I have come, finally, to understand the plot of the film Mouse Hunt, in which Nathan Lane loses his mind chasing after a furry little creature with whom the audience empathizes. When I saw the kiddie mainstay, I was in its target demographic, and, of course, rooted for the mouse. It was so cute! Now, I am rooting for Nathan Lane—which is more or less rooting for myself.
My apartment was briefly hijacked by a mouse. Or so I think—I never saw the creature but once, maybe, when I came home drunk and decided to figure out where the mysterious animal in my apartment lived and put on snow boots to stomp upon a pile of plastic grocery bags. A flash of grey light moved across the floor. I threw out all my grocery bags.
I am not a hoarder or, in less trendy language, a slob. I actually keep house very neatly. Which is why I was so perplexed when little brown cylinders started appearing on my countertops and stovetop: I couldn’t possibly be this sloppy with my coffee grounds! I flicked the coffee grounds away, then washed my hands when I realized these could be—oh no.
After a day in which I had a perfectly normal cough and thought it was hantavirus, I started leaving all my windows open to air out the mouse germs. Then I closed the windows when I found myself wondering if more mice could come in through the windows.
I disinfected all the surfaces in my house where a mouse might have gone to—the more Clorox I inhaled, the more I manically thought I saw mice everywhere. I bought mousetraps from Duane Reade in a section marked “Apartment Living.” I set them up on either side of my refrigerator (a “food source,” no?), but one of the two was only triggered once, when I dropped a fork on it to move it to another location, as I second-guessed where I might catch the mouse. I still haven’t. I found one more brown pellet after a week of freedom—no mouse carcass in the trap, but no pellets and no resultant mania—and was relieved to see it was a dead fly. This relief—overwhelming—at seeing a dead insect was perhaps my lowest moment. Duane Reade knows better than I about this “apartment living.”