I've been keeping a secret. Twice everyday I've rushed home before my wife can find out what I've been up to. It's killing me. First off, my back may not be able to take it anymore and, secondly, there's the concern of the spread of disease. But it ended today. And for the fifth time the peanut butter was licked clean.
It all started on Monday. I was up late, caught between Facebook and focusing, when a little mouse ran out from underneath our pantry and over my shoe. I was a little disappointed in how I reacted. I leapt. I screeched. The mouse scurried away to his foul little reprieve near our food supply.
Knowing that Sarah would rather not know there's a rodent in our house, I put forth my clandestine plan to get rid of it. It would be pretty run of the mill. I'd move the refrigerator out of its nook, set a trap and sneak the fridge back without anyone ever knowing of the invader and its quick death.
It didn't work like this. The next morning I checked the trap and the mouse had eaten all the peanut butter without tripping the trap. I set it again and went off to work. I came back for lunch and, much to Paco's consternation, went about grunting the stainless steel appliance across the kitchen floor. Again, the mouse ate the bait, but heaven could wait. He was still alive and I could hear him squeaking from underneath the pantry. He was taunting me.
So I expanded my efforts. I kept the fridge moved out, set the trap, and put up a camera as well. I wanted to see how this mouse was getting away with this. And then in moving the trap to get a better camera angle, the damn thing snapped shut on me.
Having the kitchen pulled apart and a camera in the middle of the room is the kind of thing I didn't want Sarah walking in on. So before getting the kids from school, I'd swing by the house, take down the camera, move the fridge and, of course, re-bait and reset the trap. I wasn't only not killing the mouse. I was feeding it. This happened all week. I'd kill my lunch hour setting up video equipment and preparing traps while wasting valuable resources racing around the city living my secret life.
Finally, on Friday everything started to unravel. And then ravel, before re-unraveling. I was back from my hurried lunch when Sarah called. The pain in her molar meant she was going to visit the dentist at three, therefore leave work early. I became obsessed with timing. If she were to be done with her appointment at four, which seemed likely, then she'd get home and walk in on what looked like a dark obsession for animal snuff films. Worse, I'd have to spend all weekend dismantling and cleaning cupboards.
My boss is very cool, and probably wouldn't mind if I left early to clean up the scene, but we were working on a deadline and I really needed to show I wasn't really all that distracted by a mouse. But then a coworker chimes in about how mad his wife got when she discovered mice, and we get into this confirmation of how once your castle is breached you can never live it down. Your manhood is tested by a mouse, and the life you're providing comes into question. And there begs the interrogation: "how dirty are you?" Am I all the people I've ever made fun of? Am I the redneck with the dirty kids--oh crap, are my kids going to be the ones at school who purportedly give off namesake germs?
After this conversation I'm cranking to get things done and I'm really getting nervous about being discovered, and then Sarah calls again. She's at the dentist office and she's gotta get a root canal. I'm ashamed at how happy I was. She was going to be distracted long enough for me to get home and keep my manhood intact. I even got cocky. Instead of first going home and cleaning up the crime scene, I went and got the kids.
We were at the last major light to our house when Sarah called again. The dentist wasn't able to do the procedure so she was on her way home. I turned onto our street and her car was heading at mine. She was equidistant to the house. I sped up and got into the garage, but it was useless. To hide all my gear I would have to ditch the kids in the car, ostensibly leaving irritated children for the woman who had Novocaine mouth from a painful dental ordeal.
I gave it up. I was done moving the fridge. I was done moving lamps around the houses for extra camera lighting. I needed to share my defeat with someone--strip away the macho sheath and get some comfort through our shared experience. Which now appears will come through cleaning the kitchen.