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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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Sleep Is
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Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

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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)

Bait your mouse traps with peanut butter. At least Southern mice like it better than cheese.
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMamaPajama
That is hilarous! Love your writing. Can't wait to hear more...
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterTaylor
Poor little mousie, poor little you! Isnt' it sad when you have to dispose of a little pest like that?

And, I just read your waterbug story and may I say that it had seriously long-lasting gross-out power. GROSS.ME.OUT. I loved the title, too; once I dated a total hippy dippy guy who always gave me that freaking Buddhist story about the butterfly in the path or whatever the hell it was. Humans first, I always say.

Once my husband and I were playing cards (oh, the good old days) and he said, "don't move." I foolishly looked and there was a GIANT spider with an awesome, bulging thorax, scuttling across our carpet. He goes to get some paper towel and I said, "Step on it real quick just to stun it. It's huge." So he did a quick stomp, which of course, being on carpet, had absolutely no effect. But when we looked down, much to our soul-numbing, speechless, motionless horror, the spider was running across the floor with a smaller abdomen. And 50,000 live baby spiders -- not ridiculously small, either, like egg-born ones -- were fleeing in all directions. We were both yelling and we doused the entire area with as many things that come out of spray cans (insecticides, cleaning supplies, perfume, etc.) as we could muster. I will never be the same.
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterjulia
OH. MY. GOOD. GOD. You are a braver woman than I. How about baiting the mousetraps with dog food? Oh wait, then the dog would get it. Literally and figuratively. No, that wouldn't be good.

Eeek. What a dilemma!
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNinotchka
UGH - I actually found a full-grown dead mouse in my kitchen this morning. NASTY. This makes the third one since December - only the first two were little wittie babies, and I didn't feel quite so grossed out. But now? (Shudder) I'm just glad they aren't rats (knock on wood - please God, let my building stay rat-free).
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLucy
Umm, mouse guts. Awesome.

Perhaps put the dog food on the trap?
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSarcastic Journalist
We had the same problem when we lived in Brooklyn, and didn't realize until I pulled the stove out to retrieve something that had fallen back there. There were piles and piles of kibble, enough for an army of mice. I sucked it all up in the vacuum, pulled out the rest of the appliances,kept vacuuming, stuffed every hole with steel wool, and got a raised bowl holder for the dog made out of metal wires that the mice could not climb. They may have been clever but alas they were not trapeze artists. They eventually got the "no more free food message" and moved on to someone with more offer. (Just like so many men in my life...)

I like the way you think on your toes, dog poop, that was a good one.

Good luck!
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterclickmom
A dead bat showed up on our couch. Score! not only are they little vermin things, they fly! UP and down upDOWN uuuuuUUUPdown all over the apartment swoopswoopswoop, emerging mysteriously at midnight from godknowswhereittookusthreeyearstofigureTHATout.
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterjilbur
I am sorry, poor little mouse, but I laughed at the story of your untimely death. Rest in peace, may there be tons of Iams in Mousy Heaven.
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterEm

I can totally feel your pain as I am the designated pest assassin in my house. My oh-so-manly husband calls meekly for me whenever he is faced with an intruder of any variety. Mice are so cute, it's hard to want to kill them. Spiders and snakes, no problem though.

I once had an apartment that had a lovely family of mice, and they lived in a large (think gaping) hole under the radiator. They were so friendly and domesticated that they would meander out and sit in the middle of the living room rug to watch TV with us. I never could bring myself to get rid of them. Still, I can understand your motivation!

P.S. You make me laugh!
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I can totally feel your pain as I am the designated pest assassin in my house. My oh-so-manly husband calls meekly for me whenever he is faced with an intruder of any variety. Mice are so cute, it's hard to want to kill them. Spiders and snakes, no problem though.

I once had an apartment that had a lovely family of mice, and they lived in a large (think gaping) hole under the radiator. They were so friendly and domesticated that they would meander out and sit in the middle of the living room rug to watch TV with us. I never could bring myself to get rid of them. Still, I can understand your motivation!

P.S. You make me laugh!
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterErin
Ugh.The condo I'm moving out of this Saturday (yes!) has crickets galore. They live on the patio and hop on in through the front door. That's why my hubby and I run through the door as quickly as possible and slam it behind us... it's actually kind of fun.The place we're moving to is built on an anthill, apparently. New challenges await...

Oh, and BTW: you're so brave! I once called my DH at work imploring him to come home early to kill a bug in the house.
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterSonja
We found that mice like chocolate a lot more than cheese. However, we also found that until they get into the back of the cooker and decide to fry themselves, that we don't mind them much and will just pick them up with a tea-towel and shove them out of the door with a kind "please don't ever come back mister mouse".The double trials of an amazingly stupid cat and a house in the middle of the countryside. She finds mice, brings in mice and then lets them go. Consequently I am really good at catching them.
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterhannah
I don't think I've read a funnier/sadder story in a long time! That was a really weird emotion. But Julia's spider-baby THAT's gross!! Makes me thankful I'ven't had to put up with anything worse than ants.
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterGen
The peanut butter tip is right on--works every time.

My traumatic mouse story--using a paper towel, I caught the mouse the cat was abusing. Not able to think of a better method for putting it out it's misery, I squeezed it in my fist until it crunched and oozed (the process took under a quarter of a second--I tell myself it was more humane than stepping on it). I still occasionally flash onto the sense of heat oozing across my palm...
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterChopper
I laughed til I had tears!
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterLB
Hey, my sister has ants. Anybody know how to get rid of them?

Alice, this was sad and funny and sad and hilarious all at once.

Julia. Eww. EWWWWWWWWWW. I live on the 26th floor and you would think that the spiders would not want to climb up this far but no. They do. And then they build 100s of webs outside our window. And freak us out.
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDM
They sell little things that you can plug into an outlet that emits a signal that drives away small animals like mice, rats, etc. It worked for us, being that we have dogs and small children, making traps and poisons out of the question. Don't get them if you have hamsters, guinea pigs, etc tho. That would just be mean!
May 31, 2005 | Unregistered Commenterbuffi
Eeewww Alice. I am petrified of mice, beyond all reasonable behaviour. After reading your story, I am sitting with my feet suspended in midair beneath my desk. *shudder*

Love your blog btw!
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterBernice
Hey, in the big bad city I thought you only had rats! Be glad they're cute little disease carriers, right?

I get mice in the winter, when they come into my nice warm house to escape the snow. And they like to run around the attic above my head and gnaw things (to eat my brains! yes!) while I'm trying to sleep. After a particularly bad infestation one year I resorted to poison, which I hate, because OH YES the "they'll go outside for water" line is UTTER CRAP and instead you will find adorable cute DEAD mice in odd locations for WEEKS. *twitch*
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterMir
Here's my Dad's idea of a mousetrap: bucket of water, ruler, pickle jar cap, peanut butter.

Peanut butter in cap, float cap in water, lean ruler against bucket as ramp. Drawn to the smell of Skippy, mice jump in and drown.

June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterPirate Wench
We had a serious mouse problem in our apartment building three years ago, and nothing worked--baiting traps with peanut butter (wearing rubber gloves so that the mice can't smell your icky human scent), stuffing holes with steel wool, special mouse-shaped voo-doo dolls, etc. What finally worked was a cat--a small cat who happens to be a terrible mouser, but who was happy to rub her little self all over our baseboards, leaving her (not noticable to us) scent behind and scaring the mice out of the building. Our dog-owning neighbors also borrowed her for a few days and had the same results.

We were driven to this desperate measure when a friend of ours who also had a vermin problem took his shoe off after a long day at the office, and a small mouse ran out of it. How he'd had that sucker next to his toes all day and didn't know it, and how the mouse survived the stinkiness/airlessness of his shoe captivity, I'll never understand.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJ.
Peanut butter. They can't resist it.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered Commentervictoria
don't try those sticky traps, though. we put a hershey kiss and peanut butter dab on them and yes, mice love it, but they sometimes get a leg or two free and drag the damn thing all over the place. nothing like a subtle kkkkksssssh...kkkkkssssh....across the kitchen floor during dinner to make the kids say, "what's that noise?" then completely freak out when they see little Mickey draggin his sorry ass across the floor, peanut butter on his face, giant super sticky pad stuck to his butt. and don't try whacking it with a garage sale golf driver to put it out of its misery either, that adhesive really sticks and you end up throwing the whole mess out, club and all.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered Commenteremmett54
When I lived in Chapel Hill, NC, I had slugs in my "apartment" (actually a made-over garage). We did however perfect the game of slug punting, which included sweeping up the slugs into a dustpan, and then hitting the bottom of the dustpan (kind of like serving a volleyball), catapulting the slug out the front door and into the atmosphere.
June 1, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterHanna

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