Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Mouse in a Duffel Bag

I hate when I sit down at my computer and get distracted by social media. There are articles that people have shared, irritated posts I want to comment on, and photos of people's kids having fun. Lately, the March for Science has some amazing entries and I've been inspired by them, but every time I comment on one, I get notifications for every other person who says the same thing that a couple of dozen other people already said. If all I have to write is "Absolutely!" then maybe I should forgo the effort.

"Me too."

"Good luck."


"I agree."

Any of those should just be deleted before I press the post button. There's also a time, when about three people have told similar stories in detail, that adding my own story to their story is just narcissistic. And yet, I persist in a lame attempt at social network validation. It might be more effective if I called a friend and asked her to lunch. She'd confirm that I'm actually a pretty funky woman, but she likes me anyway.

Isn't there something productive I could do instead?

Right. I already did productive. I washed sheets and did a load of dishes. I mostly cleared my desk of stuff I don't use.

Plus, I cleaned up after a mouse. What a butt-load of work it is to clean up after a mouse.
Last night, Nick came out of karate angry because his gloves and helmet smelled like piss. I had noticed during the week that Blitz stood on the karate bag for an hour or two. I thought it was just the cat bonding, rolling around in the sweat of a boy he loved. Nope. It was definitely a mouse. I hate that smell. It makes me think of the truck we just donated, a thing that still operated fairly well, but was actually so smelly that Boy Scouts couldn't stand to sit in it. Did you ever smell a carload of teenage boys? This truck smelled worse than that.

Last night, I confirmed that the whole karate bag was fouled by sticking my nose into it and taking a deep breath. Yup. Piss. I sniffed again and theorized, based on the smell, that it was a rodent and not a cat who was at fault. I didn't linger over the smell, but set aside the bag to deal with in the morning.

Can you get the hantavirus from smelling fresh mouse piss? Can you get it from wearing a pissy helmet on your head?

This morning, I gingerly took everything out of Nick's karate bag. I should have used gloves and a gas mask. Seven socks. Seven. A gob of stickers glommed together. One pair of foamy nunchuks. Two pair of bamboo nunchuks. I had hit myself in the head, multiple times, trying Nick's bamboo nunchuks when he first showed me what he was learning. A jock strap and cup. There are things a mom should never have to do. Handling this was one of them. Three mechanical and two #2 pencils. The receipt for his second brown belt test. Two identical patches dated 2013. Two punch cards. An outdated EpiPen. Two inhalers. An eraser with pencil-sized holes bored all the way through. A mouth guard in a ratty Ziploc bag. A foam helmet. Two new sparring gloves. His gi, top and bottom. And his brown belt with three black stripes taped onto the end.

Again, I used the sniff test. One sparring glove smelled putrid. I just bought them last month when Nick's hands finally grew. The helmet was definitely pissy. The foam nunchuks and one of bamboo ones smelled pretty gnarly. The jock strap was ripe, but that was Nick, totally Nick. The olfactory bulb in my sinuses is a wonder. Why the hell did nature think I needed to be able to distinguish between crotch, cat piss, and mouse piss?

Oh, the joy of being a mom.

I filled a bucket with Nature's Miracle, almost fully concentrated, and began to wipe down or soak anything that couldn't be thrown into the washer, wearing rubber gloves almost to my elbows. Then, I threw the gi, the duffel, the brown belt, the jock strap, and seven socks into the washer with another strong dose of Nature's Miracle. After that, the mouth guard went into a pot of boiling water.

This mouse had the piss scared out of him while Blitz stood on the karate bag and pawed at and rolled on the sparring glove where he hid.  That glove couldn't just be wiped down. It was soaked in 'scared the piss out of me' piss. Could I distinguish between the piss of a frightened mouse and a happy one? I'd almost guarantee that I could. Almost.

I have no intention of proving that one in a lab.

In the end, I still had to throw out the new sparring gloves, the helmet, the foamy nunchuks, three socks, and the duffle bag because the smell was just too pervasive even after all the washing I could manage. I also threw out four mechanical and two #2 pencils, an outdated EpiPen, and a glob of stickers glommed together. I kept the eraser with the holes in it. I don't know why, but I figured it didn't smell so it was okay. Maybe I kept it because it was an art piece that every child has created in his lifetime.

When I was done, I wanted to steam clean the floor where the duffle bag had sat. I bleached the bucket that soaked the pissy stuff that couldn't roll around in the washer. I wanted to bleach the bathroom and utility room floors and then shower and scrub my skin until I was pink, but I was interrupted.

I was standing in my kitchen when the cat came running in and stared at the floor by the dishwasher. No big deal there. Cats were always running past me and staring at stuff. Then, what I thought was a gray toy mouse but was in fact a real mouse ran across the floor and under the oven.

I screamed.

"There's a mouse under the oven!" I yelled. Suddenly, Mike and Nick were in front of me, armed with an arsenal of airsoft guns and head lamps. I ran to get a broom to poke at the creature. Usually, when there's a mouse in the house, I let the dog and the cats help me hunt it down and I capture it in an old plastic container. Usually, Teddy and I drive a ways down the road to the horse field and let it go free. Not this time. I had to clean the hell out of stuff that would never come clean. I'd inhaled so much mouse piss that it felt like I still had piss lining my sinuses. I'd had to throw stuff away. I just bought those sparring gloves. And my house still felt dirty!

This time I cheered as Mike shot the shit out of that little sucker with Nick's airsoft gun.

Thank you for listening, jb

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