I sometimes think I don’t really have good stories to tell. I can make up tales about psychic space pirates hunting ghosts with their time-traveling robot sidekicks until the cows come home, but when it comes to real-world stories, I dry up.
There was the time we had raccoons living under our deck, and we had to drive them out by playing talk radio 24/7.
There was the time I went to France with my high school class and got lost in Cannes and had to ask a clerk in an upscale furniture store for directions.
There’s a family tale about my great-grandmother who grew up in Oklahoma and who, at the age of 98, misinterpreted the Asian “Indian” for the Native Americans she’d grown up around, and promptly stood up to do a war dance. (I need to get more of her stories.)
But then Vanessa mentioned that she was trying to feed a mouse that had moved into their dorm, and my synapses fired and rummaged around the memory banks and found, amid the X-Men trivia and Disney lyrics and some dusty math skills, this tale from freshman year of college.
I was returning to my dorm from a fraternity house where we’d just had a sorority event. I was wearing my party dress and boots and I’d had probably a whole two Mike’s Hard Lemonades. Being an exceptional lightweight, this was more than enough to make me tipsy. I remember climbing the stairs sometime far past midnight, surrounded by closed doors, with the blazing white florescent lights on in the hall. Everyone appeared to be sleeping except me, and I felt pretty proud of being that girl who was the last one home from a party. (I probably wasn’t, because I’m the least hardcore party-girl ever and stayed up past three maybe ten times throughout the entirety of college, but I take what I can get.)
Just to sum up: me, alone, intoxicated, and sleepy.
I was maybe ten feet from my door when I saw the mouse. I was so close to sweet sleep and freedom, but no, now I had to deal with a mouse. He was just sitting on the step, huddled in the corner, probably wondering where he was and why it was so bright.
I just stared at him for a while, running through my options. I could wake up one of the guys on the second floor and ask him to take care of it. I could call campus security and probably get myself an MIP. Or I could catch the dang thing myself.
Leaving the mouse alone wasn’t an option. That meant we would have a mouse in our kitchen, or our bathroom, or in our desk drawers where we kept our snacks, and that was unacceptable and totally gross. I also couldn’t wake up any of the other girls, because most of them would probably have dissolved in screams, and then all the guys would wake up, and then the RA would wake up, and campus police would come, and I’d get that MIP.
So I tried to plot the best way to take the mouse outside. Bare hands were a no-no, because ew, germs. I didn’t want to try to wrap it in my dress because I’ve seen “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and I know what happens when you combine rodents and clothing. I couldn’t leave to get a container from my room, because then I’d lose sight of the mouse, and besides, I wasn’t really wild about any plan that required me to actually get within two feet of the thing. That left my knee-high boots. Obviously they were the best, nay, only option left to me.
I carefully unzipped one and balanced more precariously than usual while I slid the boot delicately into the corner of the stair, towards the mouse. He darted right in and I folded over the top. At this point it occurred to me that the sole of my boot probably had rabies now, but it was too late. I held the boot at arms’ length and clumped unevenly down the stairs.
Outside, I laid the boot down gently and nudged at it. The mouse scampered out and disappeared into the brush. I looked proudly out at the night, looking for some acknowledgment of my heroic feat. Possibly some fellow night owls would wander by, see me holding one of my boots, and ask what was going on, and squeal appropriately when I told them I’d just used it to remove a mouse from my dorm, hence saving thirty-some students from deadly disease.
But nothing happened. I’m sure I told my friends the next day over breakfast, and I’m sure they were moderately pleased, but my terrible memory eliminated that part of the story.