Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...


...except at my house. I forgot to shut the basement door, and one got in.

My wife and I hear it rustling around in the ceiling late at night. Maybe it’s not a mouse. It definitely has big feet.

All summer, a squirrel scurried around our deck with avocados from the neighbor’s tree. Maybe it’s him. ‘Tis the season, but ‘tain’t the time to have shit living in my attic.

In the pest aisle at Home Depot, they sell rat poison, ultrasonic rodent chasers and a variety of traps. I’m shopping for a deer rifle.

I go with the traps with small tunnels the mouse is supposed to walk through. They’re spring-loaded and lethal, which isn’t nice, but nicer, according to the guy at Home Depot, than glue traps...and with less risk of “flailing.” Sold! And the execution takes place behind closed doors, which is nice.

I dab peanut butter in the bait door on four traps and disperse them around the house. Come get some, you rat bastard!

A few hours later, we hear a sound coming from the living room. I grab a bat and a ski pole (there’s skiing in Encinitas, by the way; see “Snow Way!” page 104) and investigate. And then I see it under the couch: a large-ish mouse with big ears. It’s at once repulsing and disarming, almost cute.

It disappears into the kitchen, and with every hair on my body standing on end, I give chase, hoping it’s gone before I get there. Should I just shoot the thing? Is that legal?

My heart’s beating out of my chest. He’s gone. Damn! (And phew.)

The next morning, realizing that peanut butter is more likely to lure ants than catch mice, I admit defeat and call the experts, and now there’s a car dressed like a mouse parked in front of my house. A lovely woman with a clipboard gives me the worst news ever.

“You have a rat.”

I’m picturing an “Indiana Jones” nightmare with a trillion rats sticking their heads through a hole in a casket. Pack your things, Honey. The exterminator says to chill and that, based on the limited poop count, there’s a good chance we have just one animal. She lays out a few of her own, larger traps and predicts we’ll capture the enemy within 48 hours.

Six hours later, lying in bed and making sure not to dangle a foot, I’m ready for some hairy horror with claws to lunge at my throat.

SNAP! It’s muffled, but loud. It’s the trap in the ceiling crawl space. Even during the holidays, nighttime is the wrong time to be scuffling with the undead, so we go back go to sleep. Or try to.

Now, it’s 6 a.m.. The babysitter will be here in two hours. Maybe she can check the -

“David, get that thing out of my house. Now!”

“F” word! I don’t even like touching ants, and now I have to collect evidence from a friggin’ wildlife crime scene from the rafters. Damn, damn, damn.

I put on rubber gloves, gardening gloves on top, a canvas hat and a jacket. I stick my head into the ceiling, peering through a slit in the T-shirt wrapped around my head.

Suffice it to say, the exterminator’s traps have some serious oomph.

Fifty Jews told me I became a man when I had my Bar Mitzvah. They were wrong. I told myself the same thing when I got married. Wrong again. No, judging from how I practically closed my eyes while picking up the trap and transfering the animal (which is the size of a kangaroo from this close) into a trash bag, manhood may never come.

‘Tisn’t here yet, anyway. Eek!

Christmas in San Diego is heavenly. The waves are big (see “Surf Chic,” page 52), the snow is close (see “Flakin’ Out,” page 60), and, finally, not a creature is stirring.

Unless rat has a brother.

Happy Chanukah, everybody. May the trappings of your season be plenty.

David Perloff