Last week, I had a brainstorm. I took a bottle of wine and two glasses to the rooftop terrace of our apartment building, and texted my husband as he walked home from the subway: "Meet me on the roof."
Rather than come straight home, it might be that proverbial breath of fresh air...a segue, if you will, between the workday and that second shift of bills and letters. I even had dinner "ready"- except for the steaks which I'd throw on at the last minute. And, to make things even better, I took a book with me and read while I waited for Mark -- even thought of writing a blog called "Up On The Roof."
Watching Mark climb the stairs to the terrace, toss his briefcase on an empty chair, loosen his tie, and witness the tension melt from his face as he sat across the table from me with his wine said my plan was working. This was what we needed: time to re-connect, peace and quiet. Not to mention that although it's hardly Montana, there is some semblance of open space if you're above or level with the skyscrapers in Manhattan.
Reluctantly, we went back to our apartment. Well, I was reluctant. I wanted to wait until the stars came out -- although we don't see stars too often in New York City. It was well past dusk, nearly 8:30. Time for dinner and reality.
Once home, Mark uncharacteristically set the table as I popped the steaks into the stove. And then, just as he was about to set down the plates, he called my name. I turned to him with a smile.
"There's something I need to tell you," he said solemnly.
My mind raced: Oh, God, was this really the time for some sort of confession? Another woman? Was our lovely sojourn on the roof about to be ruined? All these thoughts in my brain in a synapse.
"What?" I asked, heart pounding, mind racing, bracing myself.
"We have a mouse," he said.
Then, I did what any red-blooded woman would do: I screamed, hopped on a chair, and asked Mark to get me my Frye boots.
Please, PETA people -- don't write to me.
It was a toss-up as to whether I would have preferred to hear we had a mouse or he had another woman. My friends have since told me that I'm better off with the mouse. I'm not convinced.
"It's just a little field mouse," Mark said. "He ran along the floor board and into the utility closet."
"There are no fields here," I said. "That's not working for me."
"It's just a baby mouse," Mark said.
"Then there are siblings, and parents," I said, shaking my head. "Nice try. Still not working."
And there went the evening. We didn't finish dinner until 11 -- after Mark went out and bought humane traps that allow the mouse to be captured and released in some place other than our apartment. I slept in my Frye boots and a baseball cap. I know: Irrational.
Yesterday, the handyman came and pulled out the stove, dishwasher, and every a/c unit and plugged up every hole with steel wool and a sticky foam substance that dries quickly. He assured me that the mouse had probably left the building (or at least our apartment). He also assured me that although the building doesn't have mice as a rule, every so often a little one gets in through a crack in search of water. I took off the boots, and put on my flip-flops: Courage. The little mouse is more afraid of me than I am of him (or her).
I was getting past this. I even developed a sympathy for the mouse, wished him well, hoped he'd move on.
But last night, Elvis (I named the mouse after someone known to have left the building) reappeared. We had all too significant face time. I was pouring coffee grounds into the filter when he popped up on the kitchen counter. I screamed. He leapt from counter to floor and scurried under the stove. I grabbed a mop -- don't ask me why. And then I picked up the humane trap, placed an appetizing piece of Parmesan cheese in its center, and the trap closed on my fingers (gently, I might add, so for all those out there who think this is not a humane trap, believe me, it is. It forms a safe enclosure -- that's all).
I slept fitfully last night.
This morning I went to make toast, taking the bread from the basket that sits on the counter, and there it was: the package eaten through, mouse droppings in the basket. I screamed again. I threw away the bread, the basket, and just about every dry good in the house since every bag of rice was slightly nibbled through. I cleaned more droppings, vacuumed, mopped, and "eeked."
I went to the hardware store and bought three sonic pest repellents and a flashlight.
Flashlights always make me feel safer.
I am less afraid of Elvis since I've named him. I am trying to picture him in a sequined top and tight black pants. It's not so much Elvis, it's that Elvis arrives with no warning. He pops out, dines on food not offered (I never even liked it when neighbors just "dropped in" when we lived in the suburbs). And, I will never eat anything with caraway seeds again since...well, you know...
But a couple of good things have come because of Elvis: My youngest son Ben actually asked me if I was okay. My daughter, Ellie, who has her own home and lives in the "country" has gotten over her own fear of mice. And my father laughed for the first time since my mother died. He laughed in almost the way she would have laughed if she'd been the one who happened to call in the midst of my mouse madness.
"Why are you laughing?" I asked my father.
He said it was the way I told the story...that I reminded him of my mother, and that he was sorry the little mouse was "irritating me so."
"Well, if you laugh, then it can't be so serious," I said.
"How nice of you to say," he said.
Wait a minute: What have they done with my father?
And then my mind hearkened back to good times in childhood when my doctor/father reassured me when I was sick...allayed my fears.
So, maybe the Universe really does work in strange ways. Perhaps Elvis served a purpose here. But now, I'd like to thank him for coming. And bid him a fond farewell after work well done.