A Tail of Two Mice

You know when you get to the end of a horror movie and find out it was the boyfriend all along? And looking back on various scenes, it totally makes sense that it was him, but the audience doesn’t realize it until he’s killed half the town? That was how it was with us and the realization that we had mice in the RV.

Skeet Ulrich is the murderous boyfriend in literally every movie.

Kitten had been perched in chicken-like repose, staring into the hollow compartment beneath the bench seats at the table. She regularly sees things that we humans do not, so I wrote it off as Kitten being Kitten.

Kitten singing.

As cats and humans alike were about to settle down for a long summer’s nap, a mouse appeared and scurried across the seat cushion in front of me and then darted behind the trash can.

Tina was in the bathroom getting ready for bed.

“Babe, stay in the bathroom…” I said with complete calmness, my voice level with the confidence of a rodent whisperer.

“Why? What’s going on?”

“Nothing. Just don’t make any sudden movements.”

It’s worth noting at this point in the story that when I was but a young kitten myself, I caught a mouse using nothing but my hands and wits. It had gotten into the break room at the Borders bookstore I worked at (R.I.P. Borders) so I caught it and put it outside on the loading dock. There was a 20-minute video on YouTube of the whole ordeal, but I don’t know what happened to it. I mention all of this because #foreshadowing, duh.

Poor Tina was displeased by the fact that we had the unexpected guest. I had her open the bathroom door all the way to seal off the bedroom (it’s butts up against the shower when fully opened) and stuff a towel under the door. Thank goodness for the towel.

“It’s behind the trash can. I’m going to move it and try to grab it and put it outside.”

(Muffled whimper): “Ok.”

Fun fact: house mice can jump like mofos.

“I’m coming for your family and everything that you hold dear.”

If you’re like we were that night, you’re probably wondering how this little guy could be running around with Kitten chasing him without having been maimed or eaten by now. Welp, to answer that, here’s Kitten after she fell asleep, literally mid-groom, in a toe-touch position. Her feline instincts are more Hello Kitty than Lion King.

She fell asleep in the same position that Peter Griffin ends up in when he falls down the stairs in Family Guy.

In other words, Kitten is more decorative than functional.

Back to the jumping mouse. I pulled the trash can away from the wall and the little bugger ran straight toward the bedroom, which thankfully was air-, or towel-, as it were, -tight. So picture Tina yelling from behind the door while me and Kitten clumsily pawed at this tiny, slippery, jumping mouse.

Finally, I managed to scoop it up with my hands (which were covered in dish towels as primitive hantavirus protection), Tina opened the RV door, and I tossed it out as gently but far away as I could.

Can I just point out the relationship between the words “hantavirus” and “haunted?”

Phew! What an exciting adventure, right?! We figured that we must’ve picked up the little critter in the haunted field we had stayed in a couple nights before.

We finally completed our nighttime routine and went to bed. I was nearly asleep when I felt the RV moving. Though Tina was finishing up in the bathroom and causing some of the motion, I had a sneaking suspicion and got up to check things out. There was Kitten, leaping and diving near the sofa. It was as if… she was chasing something.

Lo and behold! Another mouse!

Without any time to prepare our defenses, the mouse slipped past me and Kitten and under the bathroom door. Never before had I heard screams like that, as if someone was being kidnapped by clowns.

She looks friendly.

I opened the door, snatched it up, and threw it along with the last kitchen hand towel outside into the night. Slamming the door shut, I collapsed on the sofa to catch my breath.

Those were the only two mice that we encountered that night. To prevent Tina from having a nervous breakdown, we bought mouse traps. At first, they were the catch-and-release type, and when that didn’t work, kill-traps.

We ended up killing one mouse which made me sad. After all, the poor things had just accidentally made their way into our living quarters and meant no harm.

But there’s an old adage that I reflect on which helps give me perspective on the situation and makes me feel better: happy wife, happy life without her setting the RV on fire and leaving you to join a nunnery.

I Wanna Be Where the People Aren’t

Most children don’t secretly aspire to become a hermit. Most.

It was around the age of seven that I divulged to my mom my most fervent desire: to take up residence in a mountain cave, alone, and harvest herbs for sustenance.

I’m not making judgments or anything, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that her response to my confessed predilections for cave dwelling was mild compared to how most mothers would react. Ever the trained therapist, she replied, “That sounds neat. What is it that you’d like about that?” Fortunately for my career and romantic life, I ended up gravitating to the Bay Area and a career in finance; as far cry from an herb-filled mountain cave as one could imagine.

I’m not entirely sure when or how it happened, but my idea of what was important shifted. What I should do with the hours of my days was work, earn, produce, even to the exclusion of everything that seven-year-old Lindsay valued.

Years of correcting those types of silly inclinations eventually knit together Adult Lindsay, who had set aside the frivolities of her childhood in exchange for professional stability and financial security. The part of her brain dedicated to play and imagination had been reallocated to remembering nuances of various capital markets and foreign exchange rates.

But Adult Lindsay’s tightly knit life began to unravel, ironically, because of neglecting her hermit side. This is best illustrated with the below excerpt from the dramatic screenplay entitled Work at Your Desk in the Office Forever (it’s a working title).

HERMIT: Pay attention to me! I’m bored! There’s nothing to color here!

ADULT: Shut up! There are literally 15 things on fire right now.

HERMIT: I’m tired of this place, when are we gonna leave and go play?

ADULT: I said shut up! You’re distracting me! Oh my god, I’m never getting out of here.

HERMIT: (Bored and playful; notices a loose string on the hem of Adult’s jacket and starts pulling on it slowly; Hermit continues to tug and twist, giggling as she runs around and around an empty chair nearby, wrapping it in the unwound thread of Adult’s $250 J. Crew blazer)
It’s laughable to picture what my life would be living alone in a cave. The unbalance and solitude is undeniably literal. Yet somehow, the polar opposite of being constantly accessible to people seemed like a normal, respectable endeavor.

After almost 33 years of trial and error, I’m starting to get the importance of the whole living-a-balanced-life thing. Being by oneself in a physical cave is no more ridiculous than isolating oneself from the world emotionally and spiritually.  If I put food on the physical table, but don’t feed my soul, I will still die.

Adult Lindsay is still around nowadays, but Hermit Lindsay will always exist to help her recharge. A battery that’s only ever plugged in never fulfills the purpose of its existence. There’s power in being connected, even if it’s draining.

So, in the spirit of meaningful connection, but tempered with the desire to be left the hell alone, this stream-of-consciousness pseudo-journal is my way of staying linked to you, to myself, and to something bigger than us all.

And to make memes.