I’m learning a lot of expressions in French. For instance:
Pédaler dans la choucroute means:
To be at a complete loss, getting nowhere fast, spinning one’s wheels.
Which is kinda how I feel about learning French.
I’m also learning more about expressions in English. For instance, you know the phrase “I smell a rat.” Turns out you can actually smell a rat.
Or in my case, a mouse.
I was near the fridge and smelled something off.
So I cleaned out the fridge and mopped the floor. It takes 17 minutes to sweep and wash the floor of my entire apartment. I timed it.
The smell was still there. It smelled like a cat with a tooth infection.
I sat on the couch to do my interminable french language course when something caught my eye. I turned and made eye contact with la souris.
I screamed like a little girl. It ran back behind the fridge.
I prepared the trap. It waited.
This trap is actually a tube of sticky glue. You pour the glue on a piece of cardboard in a zigzag fashion, then cover it with cheese, boobie-trap style. You then put it near the fridge and wait on your bed across the apartment to stare at it like a cat on a stakeout.
The mouse climbed down and touched the sticky stuff. I screamed. It retreated.
Then it revealed itself in another area of the kitchen. I screamed. It retreated. I prepared another trap.
Before long, the surface of the kitchen was littered with cardboards of glue and cheese.
Now let me give a little background. I’m from the country. I should be fine with mice. But most of those who live country have cats. If one doesn’t have a cat but has a mouse problem, one will actually borrow a cat from a neighbor to let it roam for a night in the house to catch the vermin.
It’s the circle of life.
Even if you aren’t a cat person (like my mother), you have a cat (like my mother) because even people who aren’t cat people are probably really, really not mouse people (like my mother). And if you’re going to have a cat, you want it to be a good mouser, so avoid a purebred fancy cat. It’s even better if the cat was born in a litter in your neighbors barn. Built-in street cred.
I’m even allergic to cats. Even so, I know that it’s better to have a runny nose and a cat patrolling the joint than affixing glue and cheese to cardboard and risking stepping in it yourself.
And the best case scenario in this trap? That the mouse gets stuck and dies a slow, painful death. But I wasn’t thinking about this at the time. I was only thinking that the only thing a mouse is good for is animal testing.
After I pockmarked the kitchen with traps, I leaped across the apartment and flew out the door. It takes four leaps to clear my apartment. I counted.
I had five hours before Christophe would arrive home for work, so I started walking. The adrenaline was flowing and I got quite far before I realized I didn’t bring my map with me.
Just as well I had hours to burn. It took about that long to find my way home.
I asked a man for directions. He gave them.
Then I asked him for directions on how to kill a mouse. He told me that the only way to kill a mouse is to have him over to my apartment to do it. He’s an excellent mouser.
Nice try buddy, but I’m asking about another kind of cat and mouse game.
Then I asked him how to avoid mice in the future.
Which vermin are we talking about now?
The moment Christophe finished work, I was standing outside la boucherie tapping my toe and explaining in my Franglish that there might be a mouse massacre inside the house. That there may be writhing.
A few weeks ago, we were having dinner and he thought he heard something. His eyes turned wild and he whisked around on his chair and opened the cupboard. Nothing. He turned and asked, “How are you with mice?”
“Startled at first,” I said. “Then it’s war.”
“Bon,” he said.
I should have inquired further.
He opened the door to the apartment on the day Mickey visited and saw the empty traps all over the floor.
“I thought you were from the country!”
Nary a mouse fell for my cunning boobie trapping. For this I was equal parts relieved and dismayed. Relieved because I didn’t want anything to meet it’s demise in such a suffering manner (and maybe I didn’t really mean that thing I said about animal testing). Dismayed because the matter seemed unsettled.
So I’ve been on that kick and the smell seems to be gone.
We walked around the traps for two days until I was satisfied that the meditating worked and the mouse was no longer building a restaurant for itself and it’s 100 closest friends behind the fridge.
Christophe told me how every shop keeper in Paris is a vigilante, constantly trying to snuff out the mice before one catches the eye of a customer.
“The mice are no secret though,” he says. “In Paris, it’s not a problem. It’s a war.”