Yesterday at noon my mother called me at work (she and my father are visiting for a couple weeks). The phone rings. I check the caller ID.
Me: Hello (Trying to keep the ‘now what?’ out of my voice).
Usually she calls to ask where I keep something. But it doesn’t come off like a simple inquiry. It sounds more like an accusation that I don’t have said item and when I am able to direct her to the item, I get the sense that if I kept it in the logical place (ie. where SHE keeps it) she would not have had to waste our time with this call.
She: Hi. pause, sigh. You’re probably not going to want to hear this.
OH…FRICKIN...NO….. She has flooded the basement/killed my father/dumped out the liquor/invited missionaries in/what else? Think, OMG, what has she done? Wait…..she called on her cell phone. Maybe that’s because I have no house….. That’s it. She has put hot ashes in the garbage and burned down our house. Never mind that we don’t have a fireplace, you don’t know this woman.
But…..waitjustadarnminute…… Isn’t that the phrase I used to use when I called her at work to impart some bad news? As in: ‘Mom, you probably don’t want to hear this but your son is skateboarding down Broadway in your wedding dress.’ Could this be a joke? That’s it. She’s messing with me.
Me: Hear whaaat?
Come on, tell me you’re kidding.
She: I have CatTwo locked in your bedroom.
Me: WHY? ;-)
She: She has a rat in there.
Okay, she’s been drinking the liquor. On the other hand, CatTwo is pretty good about bringing home her share of the bacon. Our neighbors down the hill have a bad, nasty woodpile where I have seen some ‘big mice’ on occasion.
Me: Can’t you pick it up with a shovel.
She: pause It’s still alive.
Me: Alive. Not a question.
She: Yes, I don’t think it’s even wounded. It moves really fast.
Me: Any idea how she got it in there?
She: I let CatTwo in the house. I guess it was in her mouth.
Me: (yeah, I know I shouldn’t have said it) And you didn’t notice a big ole RAT hanging from her mouth???????
She: I’m sorry, I was making the frosting for your bars. Of course, my fault, Alpha has a team potluck tonight and Mom volunteered to take the brownie baking off my hands.
Let me think, I’m only about 3 days behind at work. I have two reports due the next morning. One half-finished, one not started. Homer would be no help. Even if he could get away from work, I don’t think he could hop fast enough to catch a rat – being injured and all.
Me: sigh I’ll be home in half an hour.
I pack up my reports and other work, brief my boss and head out. I’m driving home, trying to plot a strategy. I take mental inventory of my bedroom: 67 pairs of shoes on my closet floor, multiple boxes of stuff jammed under the bed, the dressers have great hidey holes underneath, the man-closet has backpacks, hiking gear and half his wardrobe on the floor. I start to feel defeated. This is going to be an all day project.
Arrive home. Status update: Cat and, presumably, Rat are still in bedroom. Mom has armed herself with a hammer, traded her Crocs for boots and has tucked her pants into her socks. I deem the sock idea a good one. I grab the mop and a huge plastic container. I’m thinking if the cat would just catch the rat again, I’ll pick up the cat and put them both in the container, put on the lid and escort them outside. That was a bit optimistic.
My dad announces that he’s going to take a shower – DOWNSTAIRS. This is so totally NOT his problem. Thanks, Dad.
So we head to battle. A rat SWAT team of two. It takes about an hour of picking stuff off the floor and carefully poking things out from under the bed. We gradually get braver. At last the rat is exposed! Much excitement! Cat pounces, rat runs, Mom jumps, hammer flies, hits my knee! Before I blacked out from the pain, I see blur of gray run towards the bathroom door. From that point, it didn’t go so well for the rat. I will spare you the grisly details but let’s just say the rat is no longer in the house. CatTwo is rather confused and a bit slighted. Mom goes round blaming the woodpile owners (she’s going to call the health department), blaming the cat, and blaming herself for letting the cat in, although she swears if the rat had been in her mouth, she would have noticed. What! You think she had it in her pocket, Mom?
Anyway, I am left with a room in total disaster. What the heck, might as well make lemonade. I trip off to Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick up the bed jacks that I have been planning to install. No, Jane, no browsing. I LOVE that place - the coolest stuff. Wow, the vacuum fits under the bed now. Well, I guess I better clean under there before I put all the stuff back. Hmm, who put all this crap under there? Sort, fill large garbage bag and reorganize. One thing leads to another and hours later my room is immaculate. And organized. Woo hoo.
I finished off with sniffy clean sheets and totally washed bedding (to banish the rat cooties) just in time for bed. I say good night to parentals and head to the bedroom. A thought hits me. An evil thought. She wouldn’t. She WOULD. Would she? She’s used some pretty drastic tactics before – but it’s been a long time.
Me: Uh, Mom?
Me: You didn’t coax the cat and rat into my room just to get me to clean it. Did you??