Window dressings

Guest post by Jackie Davis, assistant editor. In our May issue, we have an article on mice at the cottage (pg. 135). Based on the number of letters we’ve gotten (already!), this is a huge topic for cottagers.

We usually have mice at my cottage, and it doesn’t bother me that much. I expect mice there, just as I expect other grossness like cobwebs in my hair, and the possibility of accidentally swallowing an ant because it drowned inside my Coke can. It’s the cottage, so, you know, bring on the nature.

But it’s different in the city. I lived for a year in a hideously mouse-infested apartment (with my sister). Looking back, I’m not sure how we stayed there so long. Or why, right off the bat, we didn’t consider that this old, drafty, rundown place might have ongoing mice problems. (The traps under the sink should have been a dead giveaway.)

Anyway, at first we didn’t care. “Whatever. Mice are cute,” I said, when we first saw droppings in the cutlery drawer. We set out some humane traps. But that didn’t work, and soon we found droppings everywhere—all over the kitchen, the bathroom, in the laundry hamper, and in our beds. At night we heard non-stop squeaking coming from behind the fridge, and saw mice scurrying along the floorboards. We both developed mysterious illness symptoms. “I think you have hantavirus,” said our mother. I started having nightmares that mice were living inside my hair.

So we used more traps, and different traps. We bought sonic-repellant devices. We borrowed cats. We considered poison, but the guy at the hardware store warned us against it. “No, you fools!” he shouted. “It will only make them stronger!” Or maybe he just said, “No, I think mice have become immune to that stuff.”

Nothing could stop the mice. Soon, we saw them constantly. They didn’t try to hide anymore—they’d stroll across the living room in the middle of the day while we were watching reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, like, Hey, what’s up? Oh, by the way, we’re almost out of toilet paper. They really should have been paying rent.

Once, late at night, I accidentally caught two of them, when they got stuck inside the kitchen garbage bin. I carried the bin through the darkness for five blocks to an old school, and dumped it out. Goobye, mice. Go infest some elementary students.

And then it hit me: The mice had broken me. They’d turned me into a soulless person. The mice had won.

My sister and I convinced our landlord to let us out of our one-year lease early. “Don’t rent this place,” we whispered to a guy and his girlfriend who came to look at the apartment. “We think there might be a mouse problem.”