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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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The Extermination Revelation

I had an appointment with an exterminator today. We live in a hundred year old (and then some) house, and we’ve been seeing evidence lately that we may have mice cohabitating in our basement. And those furry little bastards aren’t helping out with the mortgage, so I want them out.

The only freeloader allowed in this house is the dog. And if she doesn’t stop farting kibble gas and eating all the Snausages, she’s packing her poochy bags, too.

But back to the exterminator. When my wife first suspected that we might have a residential rodent run in the root cellar, she called one of those big exterminator companies you see in the commercials. I don’t want to say which one exactly, for reasons coming soon, but I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with Sperminex.

Don’t think too hard about that one. Or about what ‘Sperminex’ might be, if it exists. We’ve got plenty enough to worry about here, as it is.

“Had they set up mouse house already, with mouse carpets and mouse credenzas and wee tiny mouse couches?”

So, the guy showed up around noon, had a look around our basement, and informed me that there was, indeed, evidence that mice may have been visiting down there. I don’t know what sort of ‘evidence’ he saw — did they leave tiny little party hats and cheese wrappers down there? Had they set up mouse house already, with mouse carpets and mouse credenzas and wee tiny mouse couches?

I didn’t ask. I was worried he’d wax poetic about a certain sort of mouse ‘calling card’. And I walk barefoot down there sometimes. No, thanks.

The upshot of his investigative evidence gathering was a need to set traps. Figuring this was another job best left to the professional, I returned to whichever couch I’d been napping on and got back down to business. After a little while, our exterminating specialist emerged from the basement, declaring the traps set and the job complete. We settled up some paperwork, and I thought we were finished. That’s when he chose to share a bit more information, from personal experience.

And ooh, how I wish he hadn’t.

As we walked toward the door, he looked around the hallway and said:

Yep, this is one of those big old houses. Reminds me a lot of mine.

Good, good. Solid small talk. Now all we need is a quick exchange about the weather, and I’m just a ‘have a good weekend’ away from getting back to my nap. Excellent.

Course, the mice never really get out of these places. Got ’em, myself.

Wait. Did my exterminator just tell me, offhandedly, that he, himself, has mice. The guy whose job it is to trap, kill, squish, poison, repel and otherwise retard the spread of small animals — and who I’ve just paid to do so — has mice? In his own house?

Surely, I heard that wrong.

Hear ’em in the walls some nights. My wife says they’re mocking me.

Nope, I didn’t hear it wrong. And now my exterminator’s mice are shooting thumb-nosed raspberries at him from the insides of his walls. That’s just freaking peachy.

It’s not that I think he’s wrong about getting rid of those squeaky murine furballs, necessarily. Maybe so, and maybe not. But why in the world do you essentially tell someone who’s just hired you, ‘Yeah. I’ll do what I can — but what’re ya gonna do? That’s life.

Seriously. Would you eat at a restaurant if the waiter said, ‘Very good, that’s the chicken alfredo. Unfortunately, our chef doesn’t really ‘do’ pasta, so we’ll see what you wind up with‘? Or a dentist who told you, ‘Well, I’ll clean your teeth, but I don’t really know where the plaque is. Wanna see my dentures?

I think not.

Unfortunately, this guy was shrewd enough to drop his bombshell after I signed the bill. And the traps were already in place. Hell, they might work. Maybe my mice are dumber than his, or haven’t gotten the memo about his apparent inability to follow through with his vocation. Maybe the dude sets traps upside down; I don’t know. I only knew that in that moment, I had a helluva lot less confidence that our basement would be mouse-free anytime in the near future.

I suppose there’s no walking barefoot down there for a while now. Maybe it’s time to call Sporkin. Or flood the place, and see what floats to the top. With my luck, it’ll be defective traps, half-eaten bait, and a bunch of tiny little party hats.

Super. Guess I’d better get used to the sound of mousey little raspberries. I hope those mocking bastards choke on a whisker.

Permalink  |  10 Comments

10 Responses to “The Extermination Revelation”

  1. kerry says:

    it doesn’t help that “sperminex” is the most useless pest exterminators ever. that’s who my former apartment complex hired to come out every 6 months to spray for bugs. and the funny thing is, i never saw any bugs until after they sprayed. *shudder*

  2. “it rhymes with Sperminex”

    BWA HA HA HA A!!!!!!!!

    Well, good luck with that whole thing. Why are mice attracted to hundred year-old homes? Or are the mice a bunch of Methuselahs?

  3. Bee says:

    They don’t leave because you are too funny.

    Go down there and do a “Serious/Disturbed Jerry” it might drive them to suicide.

  4. Charlie says:

    Kerry: Oh, great. So now the guy was walking around my basement shaking mice out of his pants?

    If he comes back to make little nibble marks on the bait, he is so gone.

    Margaret: I just figured mice are into antiques. I figure if it turns out I can’t beat ’em, I’ll make a truce with a nice block of well-aged cheese. Make ’em feel at home.

    Bee: I appreciate the way you’re thinking.

    But by your logic, then people (and mice) should scatter and leave me alone when I’m being quiet and sulky and unfunny. But that never seems to work.

    Not on my boss, anyway. Or the in-laws. Or during traffic stops.

    I’ll try harder.

  5. Karen says:

    When I was a kid we moved to a house in the country that hadn’t had anyone living in it for a few months. The night we moved in we were eating dinner, and we heard this STAMPEDE in the ceiling. The light fixture swayed and some dust and cobwebs floated down onto the pizza as we all sat staring at the ceiling, waiting for a rat the size of a Labrador puppy to come falling through. My Dad didn’t beleive in paying people to kill stuff, so he put out poison, and we were treated to the aroma of rotting mouse for a couple of summers. However, the stampede continues unabated after 30 years.

  6. Deb says:

    Forget the exterminator. Lots of traps, peanut butter, DeConn, some fireplace tools and a good pair of sneakers is all you need.

    Good luck!

  7. ettarose says:

    Get a cat. A great big fat one. Second thought, a great big skinny one. Don’t let it out of the basement until he has gained ten pounds.

  8. Charlie says:

    Karen: I fear your father just culled the weak mice out of the herd. The ones that are left are probably immune to poison at this point.

    Also, they may be impervious to bullets and could have developed fire-retardant fur. And you’ve killed off a few of their friends. I’d proceed with caution.

    Deb: I get the traps, the PB and the DCon. And the sneakers I see, considering I really don’t want to go back down there barefoot.

    But the fireplace tools? Because if you’re suggesting that I torture the first few mice I catch with a red-hot poker so they’ll tell me where their nest is… well. I’m totally on board with that. Good thought!

    Etta: Roger. Adopt undernourished cat from shelter; fatten on snarky mice.

    But what do I do when I want to get rid of the cat? Buy a pack of dogs? Wild boars? Hungry cat-eating wildebeest?

  9. Kat says:

    Wow, that exterminator really knows how to sell himself, eh?

    I mean, when I’m interviewing a new piano student – do I bring up the fact that I don’t actually play that well? NO! (those who can’t, teach, yadda yadda)… gotta know when to keep yer trap shut!

  10. Charlie says:

    That’s what I thought, Kat!

    Man, if were as ‘forthcoming’ as this guy, I’d have never made it through a job interview.

    Not to mention a wedding ceremony.

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