I had a deal worked out with the vermin that lived in the wall of our bedroom. During the first cold spell this winter, I woke to the sound of clawing and wiggling inside my bedroom wall. The nocturnal activity suggested rat or mouse, and either option was unappealing (think of bubonic plague and Splinter from the original Ninja Turtles movie). That said, I could accept that cold weather would inevitably drive rodents into warmer spaces, and I knew my odds of sealing off rodent access to our sixty-year-old house were slim. If the rodents would let me sleep and not alert Megan to their presence, then they could stay in the wall until spring. Peace treaties were signed, confetti was tossed, speeches were made, and life resumed to normal.
Today (or, I should say, sometime last night) the whole deal came crashing down. Working from the house to supervise some carpet installation, Megan decided to prepare herself a midday sandwich. She pulled the loaf of sourdough bread out of its ceramic bowl and noted an odd hole in the side of the bag. Behind the hole a strange tunnel of bread had gone missing. Her first thought, naturally, was to blame me. She wondered, "Why would Brad rip this strange little hole in the bag and then tunnel into the bread?"
Her second thought was to reflect on the strange scratching noises she had begun to hear at night and accept that rodents had invaded our kitchen. My office phone rang loudly: Megan had declared war.
I quickly realized that, had Megan commanded the US military during World War II, the Bomb would have been dropped everywhere, just for good measure. These mice were leaving us forever, period. Megan is the consummate public health professional, and rodents have been public enemy number one throughout history for all those trying to eradicate various forms of fecal and flea-borne pathogens. Megan had a professional goal, no, an obligation, to restore the healthfulness of our abode.
After the initial phone call, Megan called back with an action plan for sealing certain weaknesses in our defense against the order rodentia. With the defense plotted, it was time to prepare the offense.
A flurry of research took place. I read a 12-page manual on how to make a spaceship-like "humane" mouse trap out of a 3-liter coke bottle. I learned that glue traps are illegal in Ireland. I learned that, while I could hope I was dealing with mice, there was a darn good chance that rats were involved (and, unlike Splinter, I learned that they lack the thorough knowledge of Renaissance art and Zen philosophy). I learned that mice can enter a home through an opening the size of a dime. I learned that mice do not like to eat cheese (though, Megan was quick to point out that she once woke in the wee hours of the morning in a youth hostel in Amsterdam to witness a rat devouring a massive block of cheese . . . . right . . . ).
Research complete, the traps have been set. The war has begun.