Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Huh for the Holidays

I'm busily preparing for my trip to the North Country, including two days of Christmas in Vermont with my father's side of the family, a nice enough crew who nonetheless refer to both me and the dog by the childlike y-ending version of our names. An eerily silent and unemotional bunch, the Buns and Liquor family is dependent on cards and board games to get us through the 48 hours we spend together each year; I worry that in the event of a death in the family, the remorse would only last until it became apparent that the even number of players required for Spades had been thrown off, at which point it would be demanded that I reproduce immediately and the child be taught the game in utero.

As the sole grandchild in the family for 14 years, I was required to learn to play cards right around the same time I learned the word for "card". Upon making a bad strategic play at the tender age of 8, my grandfather (a man so unable to grasp the very idea of youth that I have to assume that my father and uncle sprung forth fully-formed, Athena-style from my grandmother) turned to me and demanded that I pay the loser's fee; it's an odd choice, explaining to your child the concept of trump before going over procreation, but I picked up both eventually.

Baby's first Caribbean stud, low hole card wild

My family's not that big on gifts and has no real access to stores, so what few presents that are exchanged are overwhelmingly practical in nature; last year's collection of travel-sized shampoos and toothpastes pretty much signified the end of whatever youthful noel innocence I'd retained. It was also the first year that my cousins were informed that there was no Santa Claus, mercifully allowing the rest of us to stop our half-assed routine of pretending to be excited to open our gifts from "Santa" and then feigning great joy when we got those new Brita Water Filter replacement cartridges that the elves had been working on all year.

A contribution to my 401k? Thank you baby Jesus.

A lifetime late-sleeper, my parents have long delighted in torturing me as I slept peacefully, from my father's favorite "alarm clock" (throwing a cup of cold water on my head, running like a coward), to the series of unflattering photographs that my mother took as I lay unconscious following my wisdom teeth operation, for use as cautionary tales for her dental patients. Back when my cousins were smaller, my mother encouraged them to wake me up on Christmas morning using any means possible (the year that they donned their new wizard costumes before physically prying my eyes open with their tiny, creepy fingers was a particularly memorable, Clockwork Orange-esque way to start the day); now at the ages of 48, 14 and 11, the game has apparently not lost its luster, and I still find myself brought to consciousness by 170 pounds of teenager jumping onto my stomach as 120 pounds of mother documents the occasion. As the boy cousin is starting to get a little beefy, I pray to God this is the year teenage angst kicks in and they start finding the idea of doing anything adults tell them stupid.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Things I Would do if I had an Obscene Amount of Money

1. Purchase a building at my alma mater, name it a dirty word.
2. Up the price for which I habitually dare people to do ridiculous and oftentimes dangerous things from one to three dollars.
3. Drink cheaper whiskey. Why? Why not.
4. Rewatch The Thomas Crown Affair, smile knowingly.
5. Bury a big chunk of cash somewhere and inform my heirs that they'll only be given its location if I expire from natural causes. Begin a torrid affair with my much younger butler, leave it all to him anyway.
6. Purchase love, affection, and happiness just to prove that it is in fact possible.
7. Buy that new student loan I've always wanted, paid off in full.
8. Instead of breaking up with someone in person, just hire Peter Gabriel to come in and do it for me.
9. Follow the advice given in the Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had a Million Dollars" word for word, enjoy looks on friends' faces when they are gifted with K-cars and monkeys.
10. Give some to charity or cancer or whatever.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Of (dead) mice and men

After yet another dawn awakening to the sounds of a Rodent of Unusual Size, I decided to up the ante and purchase more traps, turning my apartment into a sort of Saw for mice- if they wanted to get out of there alive, they were going to have to really want it, at least more than they wanted peanut butter, which is probably quite the existential conundrum for a mouse.

Settling in to do my Christmas cards, which consists of drawing snarky conversation bubbles coming out of the mouths of the characters found on generic dimestore Xmas cards, I heard a snap, followed by a loud squealing. My sympathetic nervous system, dulled by years of lackluster business confrontations that end with nothing more than a curt "Well, then, I'm going to have to get back to you", immediately went into Flight mode, carrying me a full fifteen feet away into the bathroom, where I made a sound that can only be described as a string of consonants interspersed with the kinds of sacreligious statements that make Quentin Tarantino blush.

Hey! Homonyms!

Composing myself, I was able to shut the door to my living/bedroom and turn on my backup CD player, drowning out the screams of the frantic mouse with a party mix from 2002. Cursing myself for purchasing the "Superficial Wound" traps instead of the fatal kind, I decided that the best thing to do would be to live entirely out of my kitchen and never, ever go into the bedroom ever again, even if it meant sleeping in the bathtub and limiting my wardrobe options to the outfit I had on and a ladle. Luckily, the realization that I would never get to see the new Real World that I was currently DVRing hit me full force, resulting in a violent bludgeoning with the non-business end of a broom, and the subsequent donning of a sultry little yellow rubber glove/trash bag number that would excite janitors the world over.

My grandmother's lingerie.

Satisfied that I had asserted my dominance over the animal kingdom, celebration was in order, but upon coming out of the shower the next morning, I was confronted with another trapped and yet annoyingly alive mouse, squealing under my couch. After another quick trip to the bathroom to take the Lord's name in vain and to briefly toy with suicide, I finally sucked it up, picked the trap/mouse up, and brought it to the window to release it onto the ledge, which hopefully bought me some karma that will ironically pay itself back by actually killing the next mouse I catch.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cheese Stands Alone

I have no problem living with critters- three years of East Village walkups and a childhood spent in the country give you a pretty clear perspective on who would win if Rodents and Man were ever to throw down- but I've always thought there was a tacit understanding that any animals not paying rent would stay out of sight out of mind, and limit their mooching to shit that falls under my stove (oddly, I once had a similarly parasitic roommate on whom I placed the same restrictions ).

Remember the plague? Still bitter about that.

However, in the past couple of weeks, I've had a mouse who's been outright flaunting his existence. The little guy must have balls the size of peas. Not only has he taken up residence in my living/bedroom, peeking his head out from under my dresser every night before disappearing into an invisible and untraceable hole that at this point I have to logically assume is an unstable tesseract that sporadically appears behind my furniture, but I discovered he ate my emergency off-season Cadbury Creme Egg stash, a Ferdinandian assassination if there ever was one. On top of that, for the past two nights, I've awoken in the middle of the night to the sound of a mouse pacing around the perimeter of my room, eventually settling under the bed to loudly gnaw on something that I obviously don't value very highly, having forgotten what or where it is , but will be pissed to find out I've lost nonetheless. Last night, as I lay feverishly awake waiting for the sweet, sweet lullaby that is the sound of its neck snapping, I realized how little credit we really gave Tom, and what a dick Jerry was.

Way to perpetuate a stereotype there, Jer.

Lacking the space and the carpentry skills to set up the elaborate, yet effective, bowling ball/bathtub/bootkicking contraption that I seem to remember working so well as a kid, I've purchased some of those classic wooden mousetraps (also, if I had a man just hanging around my apartment who would be willing to be catapulted into a tub of water at my beck and call, I could probably save a lot of trouble and just, like, ask him to kill the mouse.). Years of Disney Afternoons would lead me to believe that the best way to catch a mouse is through the use of a giant piece of cartoonishly fragrant cheese, but the country girl in me knows that peanut butter is the only way to go.

Wait, this was a game? For more than one player?

Though not afraid of mice or dead mice themselves- I'm more of a "string of borderline racist expletives" kind of girl than a "high-pitched shriek" kind- I am in fact scared shitless by the traps themselves, partly because I know that I'll inevitably be drunkenly stepping on them someday, and partly because it blows my mind that you can purchase little instruments of death from Duane Reade for about 50 cents a pop. On a side note, you can tell you've reached the point of needing to set out traps when you realize that as you're laying them down, there exists within you an actual fear that a mouse might jump out and just snatch the peanut butter from you before it even touches the ground.