I heard someone say on television the other day, "You can't be in denial for two weeks," and I thought, "Are you kidding? You can be in denial for decades."
And I've been in a state of semi-denial over my mice. My denial was as long as I didn't see one, it didn't exist. Of course, I saw evidence of one, but it has been a week or more since I've seen one.
Ana was here today to clean and she asked me when she arrived if I'd seen one, and I said no. I was in my office -- she was cleaning and I could hear her and know her movements enough to know she was almost finished. She puts garbage and recycling by the front door and she had passed my door a few times.
All of a sudden I hear, "Oh Pah-tree-cee-ah" and she comes in and tells me there are three mice... three! She saw them. Her English isn't good enough to understand my question of dead or alive? I'm trying to pantomime "dead" and she confirms they're dead. Well, thank God for small mercies, at least.
But three of them!
She couldn't articulate where she saw them, where they lay, and wanted to show me and I said no. She said they were "babies." I was girding myself to get up and help her dispose of them, or dispose of them myself. I am typically the battalion leader type who says, "Stand back, men. I won't ask you to do anything I wouldn't do myself."
As I sat cringing, contemplating three dead mice -- and by the way, there was no odor, and my nostrils pick up on that odor -- I know it and recognize it and so they must have been newly dead -- so I'm thinking about how I'm going to dispose of them without having to look at them -- paper towels on top, sweep into cardboard carton kind of thing when I realize that Ana is going to dispose of them without me.
Yes, I am a big yellow-bellied coward. A small smile formed on my lips... and I sat there, stone still, while she did it. Better her than me, I thought. I always pride myself in treating the people who work for me with dignity and respect and "do the right thing" but this time I acted like the spoiled lady who couldn't possibly get her hands dirty.
She walks past my office with a handful of paper towels she had used to pick up (oh dear god) the dead mice and was putting them with the rest of the garbage. She held out her hand with the dead mice/paper towels in it to show me and I just said No, no, no. Are you effing kidding me? Oh yes, let's get some photos while we're at it.
Ana, you're more of a woman than I'll ever be. I could no more take a paper towel and pick up three dead mice than I could jump ten feet in the air.
Then she left and I sat there, still being a yellow-bellied coward, not wanting to get up and go in the living room. But they're gone, I said, but I still did want to get up.
Eventually I do, and of course, my apartment has that sweet clean smell it has for a bit when Ana first leaves. So good timing for these mice, and I thank them for dying on someone else's watch. I guess I'll have to get some glue traps in case there are siblings on the loose.
I was thinking that I don't know what more I can do. Maybe I should hire some exterminator to close up any more holes, and not just use a handyman. But honestly, Ray does this amazing job closing the holes he has found. For example, there was a hole in the wall where the pipe for my washing machine comes out and he put steel wool, tile and some sort of putty around it... no one could have done a better job than this. He put silicone gel in the tiny space between the floor molding and the floor. I never leave food out. I don't even leave dirty dishes out. I am regular in taking out garbage.
As Ana said, and this part I understood, "Dead. That's good." Yes, very good.
two hours later update: Ana has just returned with glue traps she bought and put them out. Now I'll have to do the slow creeping up on them with my face distorted into a grimace and I never know if it's better if it's empty or has snagged a critter. I know this is not just part and parcel of urban life since you don't escape them anywhere -- the city, the suburbs, the country.