It was like any other Friday morning: I was up too early but still hustling to get out the door. It looked chilly out so I went back into my bedroom to grab a sweatshirt when something hit my foot. And there it was.
A dead mouse.
I’m not talking about those tiny rodents that you might see bust ass across your floor, moving so fast and low to the ground that you think for a second it might be a roach. You reach for some kind of weapon, but once you realize it has fur and a tail, it becomes cute. You let go of the can of Raid you McGyver-ed into something that resembles an AK-47 and grab the alumnium foil to plug up the tiny hole it ran into. Then you get on with your day. These tiny mouse sightings happen. No big.
But this one. This one was big. Too big for deluded comfort. And it lay there, dead by my bedside.
Predictably, I started to mentally hyperventilate. I ran down the list of people I could call, before I realized that not only was no one awake, I was probably running close to the limit of acceptable number of times you can make panicked calls to your good friends. I seriously considered calling my parents, before reluctantly acknowledging that my mother might suggest picking it up with a paper towel and that was simply unacceptable. I heard my best friend’s disgusted exclamations in my head and made plans to buy buckets of Clorox. I wondered how to most effectively disinfect my foot and/or my entire body.
Once the capacity for logical thought returned, I managed, but the unsettling events of the morning followed me for the rest of the day. Because - and here’s the most disturbing part - I have no idea how it got there. It wasn’t there when I went to sleep or when I woke up and got dressed. Like a flaming bag of dog poop, it was an extremely unpleasant surprise, seemingly dropped off by the karmic equivalent of unvanquished adolescents. Unable to remember anything I’ve done in the past few weeks to merit the deposit of dead rodents onto my floor, I attempted to rationalize where it came from instead. The possibilities are as follows:
Scenario 1: It just ran across my room and spontaenously died.
This has been the scenario advocated by most of my friends, who are smart enough to know that proposing anything else would mean uncontrollable panic on my part. Mike suggested it “probably ran across the room and croaked,” while Josh offered a slightly more plausible option: that it “probably saw your new shoes and died.” I’ll take either because, most importantly, both mean that it had no physical contact with me [other than it hitting my foot although let’s agree to pretend that never happened].
Scenario 2: It died under my bed and appeared when I made my bed that morning.
The thought that a rodent died beneath me as I slept is upsetting not because it opens up the possibility that there is a colony of them near my bed, but because I resent the implication that I live in filthy conditions. To be fair, I’m not fanatical enough to be able to consistently pick up after myself. This once led my mother to tell me that she had once read a study where sloppy people were also fat, but that fastidious cleaning could somehow lead to double-digit weights. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Slovenliness aside, this scenario also means that the mouse in question has touched both my bare foot and my comforter. Mental images of lice and other insects defecting the corpse to burrow into my comforter are also necessary under this scenario.
Scenario 3: It climbed onto my bed while I was sleeping and I crushed it to death/suffocated it in my sleep.
Yes, full body-to-body contact. It goes something like this: mouse is drawn to my admittedly really comfortable bed. Mouse lumbers over to my warm sleeping figure, looking for a place to curl up and nest. Giant human body rolls over and onto mouse. Death ensues. Comforter, bed, and entire body are contaminated. This last one’s hard for me, because it makes me feel extremely disgusted with myself: both for killing a living thing and for touching it long enough to kill it. The mental images of lice and other gross insects scuttling up into my hair make me consider washing my head in turpentine. I fight the temptation to call an ambulance because, who knows, the thing could have pooped - numerous times - in my mouth while I was alseep before I killed it.
Rational thought suggested I apply Occam’s razor, but given that each scenario involved several assumptions, it only served to slowly shred that thread to which my state of normalcy was clinging to. Only that goddamn mouse knew the real details, but my ignorance didn’t keep me from shooting dirty looks at the spot on the floor where I found it.
A few hours later, as I was considering mopping my walls with bleach, a package arrived from Pennsylvania. Enclosed were two notebooks and a magnet, courtesy of Bill Strickland. No explanations, much like my mouse. Hoping to avoid the confusion, fear, and hyperventilation of the morning, I point blank asked him what it was. His reply came moments later:
“Well, the not knowing is the fun.”
Maybe. But when it comes to mice [and on occasion, men, too], sometimes, it can be nice to know.