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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Chicago Review Press

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« What I Did This Weekend, by Alice. Now with pictures! | Main | Well, it's about damn time. »

It's springtime in Brooklyn, and the vermin have returned to us.

This time, instead of the usual (and heart-stoppingly terrifying) waterbugs, we have mice. Cute, teensy-tiny mice. Adorable, filthy, plague-laden mice. So wee! Really, they wouldn’t wig me out overly, if I didn’t think of the hanta virus every time I spotted one making a run for the dog food. And when they’re sitting still, it’s one thing, but usually they’re rushing past. Scurrying, scuttling—any of these motions cause my limbs to flail about as I squeal girlishly. Why is this, that the tiny running things cause one to scream and scream and scream? Also! The noises. The skritchy scrabbly noises. In the walls. Like they’re playing soccer with the skulls of their ancestors. And sometimes—sometimes we hear them gnawing. Gnawing at the plaster, so they can get out. And eat our brains.

We put out a trap. They ignored it. If I leave the dog food unattended for more than a minute, one of them is making a play for it, but leave a hunk of American cheese out all night and the mice decide to exert some self-control. Or else they’re onto us. Actually the day after we left the trap out, the mice disappeared for a while. Then they came back, because they’re stupid and also, mmm, delicious Iams Mini-Chunks. No rodent can resist it.

Then I had to kill one. The dog was sniffing at something in the corner, and there was a quarter-sized baby mouse tangled up in some wires. It was shaking violently. How could my heart not melt? Poor little disease carrier, I wept. I wept softly, because Henry was a foot away, playing with his Star Wars guys. I tried to free it from its prison. I just wanted it to go back to its hidey-hole, back where it could grow up and live to freak me out. But it wouldn’t budge, and it looked sick, and also, technically, we’re enemies. I had a job to do. So as Henry engaged thrusters and activated the launch sequence and kissed Darth Vader full on the lips (he really likes Darth Vader), I nudged the mouselet into a container, tipped the container into a bag, held the bag as far away from me as I could, and told Henry we had to go outside right then! To throw something out! Something gross!

This got his attention. “What is it? It’s gross? What is it?” And for some reason I said, “Charlie pooped. Charlie pooped in the house, and I have to throw it out right now,” and Henry said, “That’s gross,” and actually followed me out the door and down the stairs, all the while talking to himself about how gross that was, pooping in the house, wow, that is really really gross. And then before I could think about what I was doing, I said to Henry, “Okay, don’t mind what I’m going to do right now,” and lifted the bag high and slammed it against the side of the building (rest in peace, poor little mousie) and if you live in Brooklyn and you were walking past right then and you heard a boy asking his mother, “Why did you hit the house with the poop?” now you know what that meant. You’re welcome.

Reader Comments (71)

Orkin, baby. Orkin all the way.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterPsycho Kitty
Oooh! Oooh! (frantically waving hand a'la Horshack) I have an idea!!

We've had an ongoing (read: 4 years) mouse problem in our house (see here, here, here (scroll down).) that I think I may have found the answer to. We've had Orkin out, bait traps w/poison, glue boards, snap traps, copper mesh, steel wool, the whole 9 yards. Then....I read about the peppermint.

Get a bottle of peppermint oil (like at the health food store), put it on cotton balls & creatively strew(?) them about the house. Mice hate the smell of peppermint & will find a more hospitable abode. I honestly haven't seen any since I did this - and my regular sightings/hearings were about 1 every week to 2 weeks.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterChristy
i had mice when i lived in LES. we used the sticky traps then when they were caught put them in a ziplok with a couple of cotton balls soaked in nail polish remover... that way they just fall asleep. (Well that is how i liked to think of it actually it's more like asphyxiation but tomayto tomahto)
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterlibbyfish
completely agree with the peanut butter... we had a mouse in our house from construction across the street, and I had dh bring home traps (because if I saw ONE< how many were really in the house?!? Shudder) Anyway- I put peanut butter on it, and dipped it in hamster food, and caught the mouse that night. Dh was nice enough to leave it for me to clean up, since he thought I'd be satisfied that I caught it.... By the time I got up and had a chance to clean it up, it was STUCK to the ground by it's own blood. The trap had nearly cut it in half... so place it where Henry won't see it (I imagine you don't want him to see that!!) My 4yo was all "Cool!! YOu caught the mouse!".... sad thing is that's my little girl... ewww.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDeb
I can't wait to have children of my own, and lie about paper bags of poo, too.

As for waterbugs and mousies. Eeeep!
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSpurious Plum
I normally don't like our cat, who is a bitch to everyone but my husband, but she is super good at catching rodents and keeping them away. I'm assuming this isn't an option for ya'll, but maybe you can borrow a cat for a weekend or something to leave her smell, as suggested.

Also the spider story: GAH!

But I have one as bad; two months ago, sitting on the couch, I look into the kitchen to see dozens and dozens of tiny gray termites SWARMING up through a hole in the floor. Commence dancing, screaming, spraying, stomping, and wiping up. Gah. That was fun. Our landlord wasn't too thrilled to find out what they'd done to the basement beams, either.

Of course my husband has an even better story about a tarantula migration in his hometown one year...hundreds of the buggers running across the road near his house. eep.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteremjaybee
I squish a kibble of the Iams Mini into the wad of American Cheese on the trap. That they find irresistable.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa
The best mouse/rat lure , as addvised by rodent professional, is a combination of dog food kibble and peanut butter. It is like a manhattan to an alcoholic; they just canbot resist. Be sure to reload traps with new PB&K lure about once a week.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterdr. blofeld
Oh sick. So sad that the PMOP is powerless against mouselings. My dog would have eaten the mouse, and then I would have vomited, what with the mouse guts on her breath and the tail hanging from her mouth.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterVery Mom
I was there and saw the little mouse. It was pathetic all tangled up in those wires. But good for you for not waiting for the man of the house to come home and deal with the vermin (as you planned) -- what a woman!

June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie
What about getting a pet boa? They eat mice, don't they?

PS: I really enjoy reading your blog.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLiisa
Did you tell him it was like when they break a bottle of dom against a boat before it takes off? That would be a good analogy. You could pretend it was the house poop celebratory christening thing. Hit the boat with bubbly, hit the house with poop.

And then he could tell this to people, until one day when somebody questions his sanity, and boy, that will be the best story.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterlis
whatever you do, stay away from the glue traps!

when i was in high school, i worked at pudgie's famous chicken (awesome uniform tshirts, but i digress). in addition to dogfood, it seems mice like chicken. so anyway, one day we found a mouse...well, his legs, anyway...on the glue trap...and a trail of blood leading to his semi-alive body a good foot away. it was frickin pathetic. and so inhumane. although so was telling you, with that much imagery...but i had to emphasize why to STAY AWAY FROM THE GLUE TRAPS!

i'm all for the WHAP-SMACK quick-killing kindness of the snappy traps. alright, they depress me too. but the mice freak me out. bad. i don't know what's up with that either. but like someone said, try the peanut butter. be careful of your fingers when you apply it though! they don't need any quick-killing kindness, i'm sure.

best of luck from this side of brooklyn!!

p.s. that was the best-worst story, and you did a fine job of telling it.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterrooftop_holler
The glue sticks will get you....souther mice do like peanut butter better than cheese but you really need a pest control guy. Even our pest control guy was so freaked out, he came to our house for 6 straight weeks and deemed us "in biiig trouble". ACK.

I wrote about it


There seems I'm missing one named Ralph, Ivan and something but 2 is 'plenty.

Either way, the animal at our house now that seems to be driving me nutso and causing me to lose much sleep is....chicken snakes. I was gonna get a goat b/c goats eat rats and chicken snakes like rats too and not just chickens. Then, I figured a cat would be easier but apparently the pest control guy gets rid of most of the rats and the cats don't wanna live here so that leaves the snakes to wonder around...ack...if it will eve quit raining my husband can bush-hog (do you know what that is) and it will help with the snakes because as of right now, the snakes are chasing rabits and with short weeds the rabbits will move on elsewhere and hopefully so will the snakes...

was it a novel you asked for?

June 2, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJerri Ann
Hey - Thanks for starting my day off with a chuckle. I'm with the guy who suggested putting the dog food in the traps... actually, I lived in an apt that had mice once, and what really works is this bait that you sprinkle around in your attic or above the ceiling tiles. They eat it, and it makes them thirsty. They have to leave the house to drink, and when the water hits the poison they ate, bye bye rodent. It really works! You've got to go to a hardware store and talk to a really old geezer - they know their shit, and will sell you the right stuff.
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMarcheline

disclaimer: not for use in areas accessible to small children and/or small pets.
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterrobin
Mice - ugh. The only cute ones are in Beatrix Potter's books, with the bonnets and lappits and such. I guarantee Ms. Potter didn't have a mice problem, though - if she HAD, her books would've probably featured mice as the nasty, smelly, poop-leavin', pee-smellin' PLAGUES of nature that they are. And the CAT would be the hero...

Just to add to your trauma - remember in "Little House on the Prairie" (the books, not the Michael Landon version), Pa woke up one night, slapping at his head. When Ma asked him what on earth he was doing, he said, "I dreamed a barber was cutting my hair." Upon closer inspection, they realized his hair HAD been cut -by the razor-sharp teeth of little mice.AAAAAAGGGGHHHHH!

Swing away, Merel.
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAfricableu
Melted chocolate bar spread on the bait pedal of the old-fashioned wooden-base, metal spring mouse traps. Once the melted chocolate dries, they really have to gnaw and lick to get to it, and can't steal your bait. They can't resist the siren call of Hershey. Bang! Squeek! Mousie gone.

Any other types of traps are useless, useless. It's got to be the old fashioned kind that sell for like a dime apiece in the hardware store. Victor brand, I think.
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterlynn
I caught a Missouri mouse by baiting the trap with a Cheeto. It was the crunchy kind, not the cheese puff.I threw it all away, dead mouse and trap.

My husband put on his coveralls that had been hanging in the barn. When he put his hands in the pockets, he started screaming like a little girl and flapping his arms and trying to get out of the coveralls. There were nests of baby mice in both pockets. He shook them out and stomped them, shuddering the whole time.
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterHillbilly Mom
Hilarious, and alternately oogie.
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl
Julia- Had the SAME thing happen with momma spider. It made my husband scream like a girl!

Here's the story:
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterpharmgirl
Phew, that made me laugh. I had a mousy run-in on a train a few weeks ago. Subway car I would understand, but an Amtrak train from CT to NY? Scurrying along the WALL right at open pant leg level? I shrieked like a banshee and everyone on the train looked at me like I was insane. I keep defensively muttering "There was a mouse, a MOUSE, damn it." I kept my legs tucked under me for the rest of the trip and startled at every peripheral movement.
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNancy
I'm in love with Jerri Ann, I think.
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteralice
Aww...that is so sad. Yet funny about the poop thing.
June 2, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterkat
When I was in my early 20s, my boyfriend and I put SOY CHEESE in a trash can to trap a mouse. It worked; he went right in after it. We released the mouse into the field next to my apartment. We both said goodbye to him. I said, "Bye, Mousie!" And Boyfriend said, aptly, "See ya back at the house."

Two horrifying critter stories: 1) My friend Kay once reached her arm into a dog food bag, and a rat ran up her arm. 2) When I lived in the country, I slept with the bedroom windows open (no screens) so my cat could jump in and out. One night, she woke me with the low, throaty meow she uses when hunting ponytail holders. I switched on the lamp to find she'd brought a live snake into my bed. My fear gave me some sort of superpower, and I tossed the snake out using the corner of my nightgown as a glove.

June 2, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMarigoldie

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