I am a month away from my final move and still looking to lock down an apartment somewhere in Brooklyn, but until then I remain here in student-invested housing in the Allston neighborhood of Boston. As with most areas heavily populated by people of the college persuasion, this neighborhood sacrifices cleanliness and basic adult courtesy for late-night pizza and a plethora of bars. Pros and cons.
Because of the slovenly living habits of the post-adolescent/pre-adulthood human, the nooks and crannies tend to become inhabited by unwanted creatures, and I’m not just talking about ex-girlfriends. We’ve had mice. Lots of them.
From pretty much our arrival here in Allston, my three roommates and I have had to deal with an invasion of rodents. Initially, we were alerted to their presence because of the holes in our food. We put our edibles on higher shelves, they still came. Then, we started to see them. We’d be sitting in the kitchen and one of us would catch a glimpse of a little fur ball flashing by underneath a counter or behind the stove. Sometimes we’d search and no trace could be found, but still the original eyewitness swore they had seen Mickey scurrying across the floor, sometimes disappearing into a hole behind the dishwasher, or into a corner, and even into a burner on our stove. Eventually, all four of us had at least one sighting.
We took action.
Mouse-proofing your apartment requires many steps, the first obviously being traps. Though the mental image of a wooden slab with a spring-loaded metal bar is what comes to mind when one thinks ‘mousetrap,’ the variations on a theme are numerous. We’ve put down sticky pads for non-lethal capture, and black boxes holding bricks of green poison for decidedly non-non-lethal capture. Then there’s the white, semi-circular contraptions that work like your traditional mousetraps but with a concealed container so you don’t have to see the dead mouse. All the rage with the ladies.
Of course, we’ve got traditional mousetraps, too. After everything, they’re the only ones that had any success.
Our mouse infestation began in the fall when the proliferation of new students and their resulting trash heaps made Allston the Times Square of Rodent City. It was not unusual to step over a flattened rat in the streets or to see them racing under cars as you walked back to your apartment in the evening. Luckily, those nasty bastards stayed outside, but that only meant that their smaller, twitchier cousins stayed inside with us.
When we alerted our landlord of the problem, we received a nicely worded reminder that ‘this is the city, so deal with it.’ So we did. We bought traps and spray foam and steel-wool to fill in the many, many (many) holes in the walls. We also bought electronic mice repellents that emit a high-pitched noise to deter rodents. For a few weeks, we even seriously discussed getting a cat for the apartment. In other words, we weren’t kidding around.
(At some point, someone must have reminded our landlord that Boston law requires them to provide a rodent-free living environment, because they sent someone to fill holes and leave behind even more traps, months after we had already done it.)
By winter time, our mice infestation seemed to be under control. We didn’t know if this was due to our vigilant mouse-proofing or because mother nature is just fickle like that. Either way, our mouse problem seemed to be solved. Until…
INT. APARTMENT – LATE NIGHT
On a warm spring night, a tall WOMAN cleans in the kitchen, all alone. She washes her dishes, then wipes the counter. Opening the cabinet under the sink, she pulls out the trash can.
CLOSE ON a small mouse walking along the edge of the can. Startled, it scuttles up the WOMAN’s arm.
WIDE-SHOT: WOMAN screams. The trash can falls, scattering its content across the floor. The mouse escapes beneath the stove.
INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY – CLOSED DOOR
WOMAN knocks on the door. A few seconds pass, then it opens, revealing a tired-looking LYTTLETON.
LYTTLETON’s eyes narrow. An ominous song plays.
CUE TITLE CARD
Thus began the ‘2nd Great Mouse Hunt.’
We’ve doubled down on our efforts to capture or expel the sunovabitch, but despite a tireless effort and a thorough cleaning of the entire apartment, the mouse keeps popping in to say ‘Hi’. Mostly from the trash. And usually when my roommate is in the kitchen by herself. Apparently he’s fond of her.
This past Monday night, though, I had the good fortune of getting a trash can visit of my very own. It was like spotting a celebrity in a nightclub, except, not like that at all.
More traps have been set. Our determination to get this guy (or girl; don’t want to be rodent-sexist) is unwavering. In fact, around two in the morning, hours after having seen the creature for myself, my curiosity got the better of me and I checked under the sink. And, lo, what did mine eyes behold: a four-legged garbage disposal, its hind leg stuck under the metal arm of our trap.
This clever girl had managed to eat the cheese off of two traps without setting them off, and it would have gotten away with it, too, if I hadn’t scared its furry little ass when I opened the door. I heard the trap snap. Jerry was lodged behind a copper pipe in the back of the cabinet, too awkwardly situated for me to reach with my hands. Should I leave him there to undoubtedly cry in abject terror all night, or should I attempt to pull it out and toss him into the street like DJ Jazzy Jeff?
The thought of the Tell-Tale Squeak echoing through the apartment all night felt a little creepy, so I opted for the latter. My efforts to pull the trap towards me, however, only loosened the mouse, and as swiftly as he had been caught, Speedy Gonzalez was up the wall and in a crevice that up until that moment I didn’t even realize existed.
The animal’s leg is probably broken and its access route to our trash has been blocked with steel-wool, so with any luck, our persistent invader will find some other apartment to squat in. That is, if a larger predator doesn’t pick it off first. I realize even typing that sentence will mean I’ll likely never receive another Christmas card from Morrissey, but I can live with that.
It’s been over 24-hours since the last mouse sighting, so perhaps we have finally won. I will admit, though, I have to feel some admiration for the little beast. It’s avoided traps, chewed through pounds of foam, and lived off the most miniscule of kitchen scraps, all so it can repeatedly scare the holy living crap out of my roommate. That’s some dedication.
I hope that nod of respect fills his tiny heart with pride when he’s burning in mouse hell.