If a rat is unlucky enough to take the bait and jump the trap, I’ll have to deal with its little carcass, Ruth is like that really good at. In fact, I told myself it was her job like doing.Ruth may be jealous as she sits in her Paris hotel room with the Eiffel Tower visible from her window all the fun I’m going home, walking the dog, taking out the trash, picking up farm-shared veggies, cleaning up kitchen scraps for the composter, and hunting the rats.
But this is not a column about a hapless husband falling apart while he is left to fend for himself. Well, it’s not exactly about that. It’s about the weird way we behave when we miss our loved ones.
One of those weird ways is to resent them before they leave. I have some experience with this: going through cycles of separation and reunion. My parents got divorced when I was about 12 years old. And so began my typical weekend round trip with my brother, as well as a longer stay with one or the other parent. I remember how restless we would all become, not out of any hostility, but out of the mental preparation we had to do before the changing of the guard.
mom’s house is like this,I think.daddy’s house is like That. I am still here mom’s house, but my heart is looking forward dad’s Room. I don’t think my mom really likes the penumbra I cast at these times.
So when Ruth was ready to leave for three weeks. She prepares her way—organizing clothes in a spare room, pulling out a suitcase—and I am preparing myself: sneaking up on being alone, hardening myself a bit, being a little bit snarky. She’s not gone yet, but I’m slowly wiping her out of my mind.
Then Uber came and she was on her way to the airport.
Sleeping is the hardest part. I stay up too late and get up too early. I surrendered. I’m starting to feel like an 18th-century fur trapper spending the winter in some frozen corner of the Great White North. I just have to hold on until spring.
Then, one day, at the edge of my field of vision, a little gray thing galloped across the kitchen floor.
Listen, I’m not afraid of mice. Whenever they find their way into the house, I just try to occupy other places conveniently.And, like I said, Ruth seems to so good when dealing with them. But Ruth wasn’t here.
I found two classic wooden traps, used cheese as bait and put them in the oven drawer. I got screwed on the first night. I read online that if you hit a trap with your bare skin, the rats can smell you, I have, and that cheese is a bad bait.
I found a third trap – with gloves – and painted Nutella on its trigger. It’s on top of the stove. I’m a skunk again.
Then one afternoon, I went to the basement to collect my drum material for one of my band’s gigs that night. I unzipped the wheeled bag containing the cymbal stand, and was struck by the heavy terror of a dead rat.
On the one hand, the mouse— One mouse, anyway – got caught. On the other hand, I can’t take this rotten-smelling bag to a nightclub. I pulled the cymbal stand out, put on rubber gloves, put one in a plastic newspaper bag, took out the rat carcass, and threw it in the trash outside.
Then I jumped in the car and ran to a music store. I made my phone calls on the road, and like a pilot of a crashed plane radioing orders to foam the runway, I asked them to get me some drum hardware kits.
Despite my stubbornness, I didn’t think of Ruth at all, nor resented her, nor missed her. But later that night, after the show, I wanted to get more comfortable in bed, and I was happy to realize that we were halfway through her trip. She is home in a week and we still have a lot to do.