Part I of V (I think): Discovery and Irrationality
These 5 installments come from e-mail I sent family and friend in October of 2003. They are written in present tense and other than names, I have altered nothing. This first installment is the longest. -Bou.
My sister knew this was coming. I called her this morning in complete hysterics, a combination of laughing and crying and one of the last things she said when we hung up was, “I can feel a story coming out of this.”
Let me start by saying that my van is very lived in. Many of you have heard the numerous stories of what has occurred in my van. I have thought of writing about my life with my three boys and entitling one of the chapters, “Something is Fermenting in My Car.” Yes, that has happened… twice. About two weeks ago, I tore my van apart. I took out the car seats and every back seat and spent over two hours cleaning it from top to bottom. Armoral, windex, vacuuming and a lot of elbow grease. It was almost like a new vehicle. It even smelled different. I cannot believe I did not have a bug problem. Son#3 is the biggest culprit since he lives in my van 4 hours a day. I was aghast at the residue that has collected under the back seats. Along with the science experiments, I also found at least $100 in kid’s electronic equipment, a Game Boy Advance that had been missing two weeks and had fallen between the seats, invisible unless the seats were removed, as well as Game Boy cartridges we didn’t even remember we had. Suffice it to say, I declared to my three boys that this would NEVER happen again. My car was to remain clean. And for the most part, it did.
On Monday, Son#3 had a project where they all made trail mix for class. In it were corn chex, seeds, and candy corn. That is the only food we have kept in the car since it is good travel food. It stays in a plastic bag. This morning, we are getting ready for Son#2’s last soccer game. I get in my car seat and notice that there is all this ‘fluff’ at my feet. It looked like cotton or insulation… nesting came to mind. I immediately yelled to the back if any of them had put it there, to which they all replied ‘no’. I asked if anyone knew what it was and Son#3 said, “yes”. I was hopeful. He said, “Sure Mom, its fuzz.” No help and I could feel myself starting to panic. As I put the key in the ignition, I noticed the ‘car door indicator light’ was on. I got out, closed all the doors, and got back in my seat. The light remained on. I could feel the horror rising inside me. We had to go to soccer practice, so I chose to leave.
As I am driving down the street, I am slowly taking assessment of my front car area. I find the corn chex mix is open. It’s been chewed on. I find pellets. I realize… I have either a rat or a mouse in my car and in my mind, neither are good. I can’t tell my kids. They may freak. They may tell their father. And they will definitely tell the world and at that point, I wasn’t ready for the world to know and I sure as hell didn’t want their Dad to know. He’s in NYC lecturing, so this is something I have to fix on my own. I figured I had 24 hours to make this situation disappear.
I call my “Go To Girl”, my sister. I’m laughing, but it wasn’t a funny laugh, but a near hysterical laughter, an incredible “I can’t believe this is happening to me” laughter. As we started to talk, I realized I was driving completely frozen. The only thing moving was my right foot on the pedals. I was at this point completely terrified, I know this thing must be in my dash, and as I’m talking to her I realize I am no longer laughing, now I’m crying because this is just flat out horrible. I have to get rid of it and I can’t let it die in my car. It’s a bad day when you have a rodent in your car. It’s a REALLY REALLY bad day when you have a dead rodent in your car, in particular your dash. At this point I have realized that the rodent had eaten through the wires that feed the ‘open door indicator light’. I cannot lock all my doors. The van won’t allow you to lock your doors if a door is open. Go figure. Or maybe he chewed through some wire that doesn’t allow me to lock all my doors.
I get to soccer with the boys, having collected myself. Son#2 is playing an awesome game as goalie. I’m spending the whole game thinking of how I will keep this from my husband and wondering if a rat/mouse can live in 100 degree heat in a van for an hour, without dying. I finally start to talk to some of the Moms about it. I’m trying to process to figure out how I can fix this. I get no help from them. They’re just as freaked as I am. By the end of soccer practice I decide to vacuum my car then take it to Toyota and tell them, “Make this go away. I don’t care how much it costs, make this situation go away.” As I get to my car, I realize, that may not be the best, so I decided to call my neighbor, Joe, who is about my father’s age and has gotten me out of some real jams with his wise and clear thinking.
I get home, vacuum my car and call Joe. He tells me it is not uncommon for this to happen. (surprise) I told him there was nothing left for the rat/mouse to eat, so I was hoping that this would just go away over night. He informs me that it won’t just go away that mice like to eat insulation and wires. Great. He tells me I need to buy a trap for it. I’m starting to freak again and tell him that I know for sure, without a shadow of a doubt that I will be emotionally scarred for life if I come out in the morning and find a dead rodent in my car. He calmly tells me that if I can kill it, he’ll remove it for me. I tell him it’s a deal. I call my Dad, he informs me I should bait it with Peanut Butter.
I don’t know what possessed me, but in some weird flaked out moment of near hysteria, I get this bonehead idea that instead of killing this rodent, that I should sell my van in the next 24 hours before my husband gets home. I know I know, it is hard to believe that anyone could be that completely irrational, but it is true. It just so happens that Joe is selling his Honda mini van with essentially no miles and I’m thinking to myself, “I’ll call my spouse and tell him that we’re going to buy Joe’s van today. He’ll never know, I’ll get rid of this tomorrow down at Toyota and I’ll take this to my grave… with Joe and my Dad and all the soccer Moms.”
So I call my husband and tell him Joe’s van is for sale and I think we should buy it. He’s in NYC lecturing and is on his lunch break. He is puzzled and tells me that we’re going to stick to my plan of waiting until next year. I could shoot myself right about now for being so adamant that we didn’t need a new vehicle. Ugh. At some point, I end up confessing to him that I’m dealing with a rat/mouse problem and I’ll have it taken care of by the time he comes home. I hang up totally deflated that I was unable to unload my vehicle and really did have to contend with the rat. Mind you, I still have things to do. I had the big school auction tonight, which I was going to stag. His concern is now that I’m going to be driving down I-95, the rat/mouse is going to jump out, I’ll see it and get in a wreck and kill myself. The other option is for me to take his sports car. I envision myself dinging a door, scratching the paint, or doing something else to it and decide it is a safer bet to drive the ratmobile. I have also convinced myself that the rodent is gone. It’s amazing what games your mind can play.
I bought the rat traps, telling the boys we have one in the garage.
I went to the Auction, without incident, except for the fact I can’t lock my doors. That is a bad feeling. Ick. I worried about car jackers and other predators.
I came home. I read the directions to the rat trap and they are not specific enough. They don’t have enough written directions and a picture of what a rat trap looks like set would have been extraordinarily helpful. I could have done without the directions in French and Spanish. I have no idea if I set it right. I put the Peanut Butter on there like my Dad said. I put it on the floor board of my car. I’m hoping the rodent will catch a whiff and take a bite and die. One of the Dads at the Auction said to me, “finding a humane cage mouse trap is difficult.” I looked at him and said, “Cage?! Are you kidding me. I want this thing dead. Now. Yesterday. There will be no caging.” He looked at me like I was some cold heartless wench. I want that thing dead. I just don’t want to remove its carcass.
I know the rat/mouse is in there. As I placed the trap I heard it in my dash. So much for denial. Now I wait. I am hoping I set it right. I am hoping that the rat/mouse takes the bait. And I am hoping I don’t get splattered Peanut Butter all over my car when it trips because I think I may have over done it. Dad didn’t say how much, so I put a lot. So here is to hoping that tomorrow morning I find a dead rodent and no Peanut Butter goop to clean up.
On a positive note, I won the full car detailing from Wash and Wax World at the Auction. Maybe they are good at getting Peanut Butter out of floor mats. –D.