Monday, July 12, 2010

Shrimp "Scampy"

(A Mouse in the Trap, Pietro Torrini, 1800's,

Soon after our arrival in London, Gretchen slid this piece of news into a perfectly pleasant conversation:

"We think we may have a mouse in the flat. I left a package of cookies on the kitchen counter the other night. When I was making breakfast the next morning I noticed that the edge of the plastic wrapper had been opened. The end cookie looked like it had been gnawed on."

I instinctively knew that no one or nothing with the ability to "gnaw" would ever be allowed within 467 feet of me.

So I jumped up, grabbed my cell and booked one of those " as-soon-as-you-can-get-me-there" flights back home.

I'm kidding, of course.

But not by much.

I thought to myself: "Great, good and wonderful. I'm living in a mouse house. And I'm going to be held captive by the whims of this monster who is going to make personal appearances in the flat whenever he feels like it."

Seth went to work setting traps with tempting delicacies like peanut butter and cheddar cheese.

Scampy - short for "scampered" or "scampering" - always managed to grab the goodies and then high tail it out of there.

This was no dumb mouse.

Several nights later, Bob saw a tiny brown blob scurry across the shadows of the living room floor.

I asked Bob: "You saw Scampy?"

Bob: "Yes, I did."

Merry: "What did he look like?"

Bob: "What do you think he looked like? It's a mouse."

Merry: "I mean did he have any identifying characteristics?"

Bob: "I think he was wearing a purple earring in his left ear. Are you happy?"

Obviously, I was not going to be getting any sympathy from Bob.

So I decided that my best plan of attack would be to forget that Scampy existed.

This strategy worked remarkably well until the week before we left for Italy.

We decided to hold a Family Council one evening after dinner.

The topic?

The once-and-for-all permanent end of Scampy.

We all agreed that our 10 day trip to Italy should give our dear Scampy enough time to "buy the farm."

Bob and Seth, our resident rodent warriors, moved into high gear.

The guys went to our quaint neighborhood hardware shop and purchased a boatload of traps and something else........

sticky paper.

We decided that this arsenal of weaponry would be set in several places around the flat just before we left for the airport.

Good-bye, Scampy!

There was just one more piece of business I needed to take care of.

I made Bob promise that if Scampy did "kick the bucket" while we were gone, he would quickly and quietly dispose of the remains with no graphic discussion of the details.

He promised.

Naturally, the other shoe dropped the night before we left for Italy.

I was lying in bed wondering how I was going to force my body to get off the mattress at 3 a.m. when I heard a distinct rustling sound in my wastebasket.

My heart nearly stopped beating.

Then I heard it again.

Earlier in the evening I had dumped an open bag of chocolates into the wastebasket because the date on the bag had expired.

I know what you're thinking.

Why would any decent, red-blooded American woman allow a bag of chocolates to expire?

The answer baffles me as well.

The rustling in the wicker wastebasket was revving up - crinkle, crackle, snap, pop.

The noises were making me nervous.

Minutes later - realizing that I was being ridiculous - I jumped out of bed and saw Scampy scoot under my door just as I turned the light on.

I thought to myself: "My stars! I've eaten shrimp larger than Scampy - he's tiny!"

I'm not proud of what I did next but here we have it:

I woke Bob up.

I said to him, "Scampy was in my wastebasket feasting on my chocolates a few seconds ago."

Bob opened one eye, looked at me and said, "Then he'll be fat and happy. Put the wastebasket out in the hall. Goodnight."

I immediately did what I was told.*

Returning to bed, I spent several minutes worrying that Scampy might return to the scene of his crime and scare the bejeebers out of me

I knew it was time for a one woman therapy session.

I said to myself, "This is silly. Scampy is more afraid of you than you are of him."

Feeling suddenly powerful, I turned the light off and went to sleep.

* This documented event is the one and only time I have "done what I was told."  May it ever be so.


Scampy did, indeed, move on to better things while we were in Italy. The powers that be informed us that it was the sticky paper that got him. Fortunately for Bob and Seth, Gretchen and I will never have first-hand knowledge of Scampy's sad demise.

(Peasants Meal, Cheltenham Museum, Cheltenham England)


  1. Loved this one! Purple earring got me.

  2. that would have seriously freaked me out. I hate rodents of any size!!