I was cleaning, as one does when company is coming.
I was going for the our-house-is-always-this-tidy-and-clean-lived-in-but-not-spotless look for my college friend.
She is the only person I met in college with whom I have stayed in contact. We ran track together. We stopped running track together. We watched Days of Our Lives while chowing on microwave popcorn together. We married together. As in, we were bridesmaids for each other.
While we had kept in contact, and she does read the blog, I had not laid eyes on her or her family since we moved to the farm. They were stopping by for a visit and some dinner on their way to Bloomington.
Two pans of stuffed shells were in the fridge, waiting to be put in the oven later that day.
Dirty pots, pans, spoons, and other miscellaneous kitchen gadgets used to make the shells were strewn about the room.
Normally, I cook and Bryan does the dishes. It is only on the rare night that Bryan is unable to fulfill his washing dishes chore that I hand wash a single pot or pan. But today, my friend and her family were coming. A pile of dirty dishes waiting for Bryan would have ruined the look I was going for. I filled the sink with soapy water and began washing.
As I cleaned the microwave of the splatter of sauce someone left after reheating lunch some days ago, Buttercup asked, "Why are you cleaning in there? Do you think they are going to be using the microwave?"
"No, Honey, I don't. But when I do the dishes, I always capitalize on the opportunity to scrub down the parts of the kitchen your dad neglects, such as the microwave and the range hood."
When all was done, I sat on a kitchen stool to rest a minute.
As I sat, I noticed a ring from a canning jar lid under the toaster oven.
I realized that I had forgotten to pull the toaster oven away from the wall to clean behind it.
I was tired, and thus debated in my head about the necessity of cleaning it just then.
My usually-suppressed OCD side kicked in and I stood.
I grabbed the dishcloth and quickly pulled the small oven away from the wall.
"AAAAAHHHHHH!!!! OH THAT IS DISGUSTING! KIDS! GET IN HERE! SOMEONE TAKE CARE OF THIS FOR ME!!!!'
Kids came running alright, simply to see what the commotion was. When they saw what made me react in such a dramatic way, they actually put their fingers on the tips of their noses, said, "Nose goes" and walked out, mumbling ridiculous excuses like "I've got homework to do".
As I followed them around the corner, begging and pleading, I noticed a car pull in the driveway.
My friend and her family were here!
And I had a mouse.
A dead mouse.
A dead mouse that had been lying behind my toaster oven for what looked to be a good number of days.
That is when a forgotten episode flashed back into the forefront of my brain.
About a week before vacation, I smelled a smell. At first I thought it was from the trash/recycling, so I pulled out the cans, emptied them, checked to make sure nothing was behind them, and replaced them.
The smell lingered.
And got worse.
I told Bryan, "I'm pretty sure a mouse died somewhere. Probably behind the stove." (You see, after 10 years of living on a farm, we've come to expect a mouse every once in a while. Thanks to the traps in the basement, we have come to know the smell of a dead mouse. (I am not happy to know this.))
I checked under the sink. He pulled out the bottom of the oven and checked under and behind it.
We could not find it.
After a day or two of me lamenting the foul odor in my kitchen, the smell went away and I put it out of my mind, seeing as how we had a vacation to prepare for.
So of course I found the blasted mouse all flattened and gigantic and horribly disgusting as my college friend was pulling into my driveway.
Along with cleaning the dishes, it is also Bryan's job to dispose of dead mice. I can handle a 200-pound dead pig, but a 5 ounce mouse is not something I want to have anything to do with.
Unfortunately, as with the stuffed shell mess, I had no choice. I had to take care of this situation and do it fast.
I grabbed the phone, dialed Bryan's number at work, and yelled the play-by-play at him while, with the other hand, I wadded up 5 paper towels, grabbed the nasty dead thing, and threw it in it's own little trash bag.
I then hung up on him.
As I sprayed and cleaned up the leftover dried mouse bodily fluids, thanking God for our very long driveway, Buttercup was next to me asking, "Are you going to tell them about the mouse?"
In a sarcastic tone filled with nothing but love, I responded, "Oh sure. I'm going to greet them with my spray bottle and unwashed hands and say, "Pardon me while I clean up 3 week old mouse guts. Make yourselves at home."
No, I wasn't planning on telling them.
But I must admit, the thought of a blog post that my friend could read later crossed my mind.
I washed my hands and returned the toaster oven to its original position as my friend and her family got out of their car.
Hugs and hellos were exchanged and no mention was made of the unfortunate incident.
When they arrived, the boys were in the middle of a cut-throat Monopoly game. After greetings and introductions, the boys went back to their game and weren't heard from for another 30 minutes or so.
The rest of us continued to visit in the kitchen.
Eventually, the boys came in to get a snack, which they took to the dining room to eat.
Cuckoo had been unusually quiet throughout. He hadn't said more than two words to anyone since my friend pulled into the driveway.
Looking back, I think the little bugger planned it.
He left his snack, came into the kitchen doorway, and waited for everyone to notice him. Since he had been so quiet, he had the attention of everyone.
His only words were, "Did you tell them about the mouse you found?"
He then turned on his heel and went back to the dining room to finish eating his banana bread.
My friend now knows the story.
Surprisingly, they stayed and even ate the stuffed shells I had made.
As I think on this debacle, I wonder what the moral of the story is.
Should I wash dishes more or less often?
Should I look a whole lot harder the next time I smell something off?
Should I stop calling myself a suppressed OCD, seeing as how no self-respecting OCD person has a dead mouse behind a toaster oven for three weeks?
Should I stop calling myself a self-respecting person, seeing as how no self-respecting person has a dead mouse behind a toaster oven for three weeks.
Should Cuckoo be sent away whenever we have guests?
I'm thinking all of the above.
Now it is your turn. Make me feel just a bit better.
Tell me about something mortifying that happened when you had company coming.
Have a lovely day!