Friday, 23 October 2009

The Three Mouseketeers...

There is nothing like a rodent in your bedroom at 3 a.m. to spoil the honeymoon.

I wake up startled and grasp The American's arm to hear scratching, rustling and the clanging of the radiator valve. Whoever invented the phrase 'quiet as a mouse' must have been partially deaf. I know straight away. I just know. This is not the first time. This is the third. The first two happened in the kitchen, more of your expected setting for a mouse. The first one got away and the second one perished at the blade of The American's Smith and Wesson knife. Yes my husband owns a knife made by a gun manufacturer and makes no apologies. More disturbing are the details of the mouse death-which would put you off your dinner.

So in response to mouse one and two I had a few panic attacks, we sealed up all the holes behind the cooker, got an exterminator who sealed up a few more holes around the apartment and we breathed a sigh of relief. I ranted how it is possible to pay this much rent and still get rodents.We even bought a Mickey Mouse kitchen timer in the mistaken belief that one day soon we would be laughing about the whole thing.

But New York mice are not like normal mice. The brutal stabbing of one of their brood did not deter them. They are persistant furry little fuckers with attitude. And now there is one is my bedroom. My bedroom. Where I sleep. I run to the bathroom to vomit, which along with the panic attacks has become my default response to seeing a Mickey in my house.

The American gets the torch to investigate while I hide away perched on the loo. And so begins a long night where he is unable to catch the little Lynford and I am unable to sleep. It is last seen diving behind the cable box in the living room. I can't even set foot in our bedroom so climb in bed next to the Teenager and only manage about an hour of nightmare disturbed sleep. Every noise jerks my body into readiness and I silently curse the audacity of this creature. This tiny thing that terrifies me by it's invasion of my home. At least it wasn't a rat. If it was a rat I could never come in this apartment again. If it was a rat I would booking my flight back to Cardiff.

The next day The American gets up and discovers inadequately stuffed holes all over the bedroom-which in another story would be a fantastic double ententre. Then he goes to work and I am too terrified to move. He leaves me a bottle of sedatives but I push them to one side. This is mouse war and I need my wits about me. I email him later to ask if he cleared up the toffee apple he was eating late last night, I have a hunch he left the remainders on a plate on the bedroom floor. He denies it. I know he's lying.

I spend three hours researching exterminators until I find one with a rodent free guarantee. I beg, plead and cry on the phone until they agree to come later that day. The rest of the day is spent cleaning like a woman with OCD.

I call the American who is struggling to understand my feelings towards the Mickeys.

''It is not a fear,'' I tell him ''It is a phobia."
''Yeah I get that.'' he says ''Now."
"I don't know that you do get it."
"I do. I have just never known anyone this fearful. Of anything."
''It's not a fear, It's a phobia."
''Yes, you said."
"Did you leave that toffee apple on the floor?''

I scowl at the phone. Liar. This is all his fault with the late night snacking.

That night Junior and Geoff arrive, the king of New York exterminating and his able assistant. They proceed to pull out every piece of furniture and empty every cupboard and fill up even the tiniest of holes with wire wool and spray filler. Junior is cracking jokes as he goes and regaling us with tales of thumping rats to death.

These guys work the night shift, so usually they're at commercial premises, sneaking in to eateries after the customers have gone home in order to rid them of things that go nibble in the night. Their stories peak with an anecdote about an Asian restaurant in Manhattan. They witnessed a bucket of spare ribs soaking uncovered on the floor and mice leaping in and out stained the same rich red as the rib sauce. By the time they leave I have a list of no go sushi spots in Manhattan and the entire family has sworn off eating Chinese ever again.

In bed that night I am wide awake staring at the ceiling and clinging onto The American for dear life.

''Did you leave that toffee apple out last night?'

In the dark the lie is much louder.

A few days later he admits the truth. If I wasn't a newlywed madly in love I might muse how husbands and mice are not so different. They can't resist temptation, they're usually sneaky and you need to hire professional help when you want to get rid of them.


  1. Emma, you are going to have a great time in New York, as a writer. I love your 'pace'..!

  2. “...they're usually sneaky and you need to hire professional help when you want to get rid of them.”— I strongly agree with you, Emma. Getting infested by rodents is a part of our lives. You can shoo them away, but there's the possibility that they would come back again, especially when you still have the reason for them to come back. But then, there are lots of ways on how you can prevent them from getting to your home. But if things got worse, that's the time that you need to resort to professional help.

    Bill Dowd



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