OK, so there was a mouse in my house this evening. I sat on my couch, so pleased with my decision to forego an invitation from friends to see The Wedding Crashers and to have turned down an offer for a drink from a new acquaintance. I would write, relax, read. A perfect evening.
And then I saw it scurry across my living room floor into my bedroom. I screamed, jumped up, put sneakers on my bare feet. I grabbed the phone and called one of my closest friends who happens to be a neighbor. He was in Manhattan. I was trembling, so happy to hear his voice through the cellphone.
He laughed. Told me it was the mouse I had “summoned.” You see, I have been talking lately about the Madonna photo spread in Ladies Home Journal and how ballsy it is that she poses with a mouse in two of the pictures. I have even thought of going to a pet store and holding a mouse in an attempt to stare down a fear I know is irrational.
That said, I don’t necessarily want the lesson while the situation is unfolding. So my friend tells me to go buy glue traps or, better yet, come into the city and party with him. Lovely. So helpful. Thank you for the support. “What do you want me to do? Hunt it down and kill it?” No, how about see me through it? “You’re being irrational,” he says. Duh. Isn’t that true of most fears? Are we really going to fall if we go too close to floor-to-ceiling windows on the 40th floor?
Suddenly I see the mouse scurry back the other way. I scream. “My ear!” he says. OK, this cry for help is going nowhere. I need to hang up and deal with my situation. I call my brother. “I know you can’t do anything, but it’ll just help to hear your voice,” I say. He is soothing, supportive. Encourages me to try to summon the courage to do something proactive.
I grab my phone and my keys and go buy the glue traps. Hoboken is alive with party-minded folks and I’m pretty much oblivious. I need steel wool. I go to four stores before I find some (the kind with the soap, but they’ll have to do). On this journey my friend calls to see how I’m doing. I express disbelief that he isn’t there for me. Again he tells me I’m being irrational. Yes, I know. But in my loved ones’ most irrational moments, I would run to them if I thought it would make them feel even a little bit better. The phone call doesn’t end well.
I come home and my neighbor from across the hall is coming back from walking her dog. I’m thrilled to see a friendly face. She is heaven sent. “I know it’s kind of irrational, but would you consider coming into my apartment with me while I put down these traps and stuff some spots with steel wool?” I say. She says she’d be happy to. She brings Benji, who sniffs around my apartment with abandon. He is unfazed. She says he’d be barking if he sensed anything. OK, this is promising.
After seeing the SOS pads I have, she goes into her apartment and gets me the kind of steel wool I really need. So I get a flashlight and start stuffing the place I thought it may have come in. I’m pretty sure I’m right. She then gets me a chop stick from her apartment, says it’s the perfect size to help me jam the steel wool into the holes. She’s right. While I’m there, I notice the block of green poison the exterminator put down is crumbled to pieces — yes! The mouse has likely consumed it. Plus, I think it went back down the hole. Good signs.
I tell my neighbor about the guy who lived in her place before she did. When I had a little critter over five years ago, this guy was a gem in many ways but made it clear he was not going into my apartment. He would have no parts of it. “Isn’t it ironic? A guy wouldn’t come in, but here you are right by my side,” I said to her. We laughed.
Back then, I had a friend who lived in The Village. I called her in hysterics and she said, “Come.” No questions asked. So I packed a bag and stayed with her for two nights. She knew me well, knew I wouldn’t sleep. Such a gift, that kind of gesture.
But back to the present situation. My friend calls. He came back from the city early (1 a.m.) to see how I was. We get a bite to eat; well, actually he does because I can’t eat. I calmly tell him I don’t understand how he could just ignore my trembling voice and not be there for me. He explains that he didn’t want to enable me, my fear. He felt I needed to deal with it myself.
I strongly disagree, express my disappointment. We reach an impasse.
As I sit here back on my couch, my fear seems to have subsided a bit. I’m not sure about sleep tonight. But my neighbor left her number in case I need a place to stay.
Deep breath. Sigh. Forge on.