What are you afraid of? Yes, I know we all have Big and Important Answers, like "I'm afraid that my children will grow up to resent me" or "I'm afraid people wouldn't love me if they knew the real me" or "I'm afraid I will get to the end of my life and realize that I missed my true calling." But I'm talking about REAL fears here, people. And for me... apparently... it's mice.
I am a 30-something woman who fears something that is about 10-15 centimeters long (according to Wiki Answers).
I have long known that I am not fond of mice. But I didn't really realize that "terrified" was a better word to use until tonight. Let me set the stage for you: The children are in bed, Mr. Fantastic is helping his mom at her house, and I decide that I am done with housework for the evening. I sit down to blog for a bit, but writer's block hits. I determine that I will indulge in a nice, hot, relaxing bath. What a treat.
I sit down, armed with a sudoku book and let the hot water ease the tension in my muscles. I am thinking about closing my eyes and drifting off, when I hear movement. The dog must have come upstairs. I close my eyes and lay my head back. I hear movement again.
That sounded like it came from the linen closet, I think. I sit up and look around. No sign of the dog. Crap.
And there's that noise again. A scratching noise. Coming from our linen closet. Scratch, scratch, scuffle, scuffle, scratch.
I am paralyzed by this noise. Surely I am hearing things, right? I decide to be brave and scare it off... but, you know, not too brave... so I smack my book against the side of the tub and say, "Hey! Don't you know that I'm right here?!?"
Ha, I think smugly, those dumb mice are so scared of people. Silly creatures. I pick up my phone and text Mr. Fantastic I think there's a mouse in the house. Still, I'm thinking that I'm just hearing things and it's really nothing.
Scratch, scratch, scuffle, scratch, scratch, SQUEAK.
We play this game for a while, me and the mouse. I move around in the tub, talk, bang my book on the counter, etc, and he gets quiet for a minute, then starts back up his pitter-patter. This is NOT my favorite game. I finally decide that I can't take it anymore, and I pull the plug.
Why on earth is there a mouse up here? I wonder. We had a mouse issue a few months back, but at least those mice were smart enough to be in the kitchen, where there's food. Why would a mouse, I think as I stand up to dry off, be all the way upstairs?
And then I look up, through the door of the bathroom... into my bedroom... and I see it. A sandwich bag that I had taken to church this morning when we hurried out the door. Golden Grahams.
Crap, crap, crap, crap, CRAP.
I try to convince myself that the dog was the culprit, that she snuck upstairs and dug the baggie out of my purse. She may well have, as a matter of fact, but that doesn't erase the scratching, scuffling, and squeaking that I heard during my bath. The thought of it makes me shiver.
And suddenly I have a whole new dilemma. Directly in front of me is The Closet, the source of this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. To my left is my closet, where my pajamas lay neatly folded on a shelf. To my right, my bedroom... and my access to the rest of the house... and the Golden Grahams. In order to get away from The Closet, I have to walk right past it twice... and the second time, I would be in the direct path between the mouse... and it's FOOD.
I am trapped. I stand there, my towel pulled up over the front of me in case the mouse is watching through a crack at the bottom of a door (A girl has to protect her modesty, after all!), and try to decide what to do next. Should I refill the tub and just wait it out until Mr. Fantastic gets home, trying to ignore the mousy sounds just a few feet away? Should I yell and stomp and try to scare him off? Should I tuck the towel around me like a wrap and make a run for it? At no time does the question "Should I open the door to The Closet?" enter my mind. Some things are just too ridiculous to put into words.
Kathryn, I tell myself, you are being silly. Just put on your pajamas and walk out of this room like you have done a hundred times before. It is a teeny tiny creature that is more afraid of you than you are of it.
I'm pretty sure I lied to myself right there. I am WAY more scared of that mouse than it is of me. I realize this as I slowly and carefully stepped out of the tub. My heart rate couldn't go any higher if there had been a serial killer lurking behind that door instead of a furry little creature that some people keep as a pet. My stomach turns as I race past The Door and grab the first nightgown I could find.
Whew. Step 1 accomplished. Step 2, though, is a bit trickier. Not only do I risk seeing the creature in question, but now we might actually be traveling the same path. This is not a trip that is to be taken lightly.
I pause at the door to my closet, take a few deep breaths. This must be what those Olympians feel like... only without the fear of tiny little feet scurrying over theirs as they run, I think.
And then, I do it. I DASH across the bathroom, right past The Closet. OK, well, maybe not dash exactly. I move more quickly than normal, but it's hard to "dash" on your tiptoes. (It's important to keep as little of your feet on the ground as possible when dealing with a possible Mouse Encounter. That gives them less surface area to scurry across, and it gives you a head start on leaping straight up into the air when you scream.)
I gather the presence of mind to snatch the offending baggie on the way out of my room. Now at least I don't have to fear walking in on a mousy feast when I want to go to bed tonight.
Then again... maybe I'll sleep on the couch.