Saturday, January 24, 2009
Of mice and men
This is terrible but Howard thinks there might be mice in the bedroom. The other night he heard a rustling coming from his nightstand.
"What's that?" he said.
"I'm sure it's nothing," I said. That is my answer to everything like this. If I am driving and the car starts making a funny noise, my solution is to turn up the Beethoven. That is what I do.
"I heard something," he said.
Then I tried to tell him it was his sleep apnea mask. Howard has this sleep apnea mask he wears and it always making these rustling and puffing sounds. At least I always thought it did. Maybe it was mice I have been hearing! Maybe he is right!
Howard says maybe the mice are in the walls. That makes me remember when I was 16 and I spent a summer in Chautauqua with my cousin Caroline, when I was studying piano there. I can't remember what Caroline was studying. I think she was studying partying. Whereas I was like this little nun. It was a miracle we got along as well as we did.
Anyway, Caroline and I in addition to our respective studies worked as chambermaids at the Maple Inn. It is still there! We slept on the third floor, in this bed under the eaves. Back then everyone always shared beds and no one thought anything about it. And all night long we would hear these mice in the walls, inches from our ears. They would scamper around and you could hear their little paws scrabbling this way and that. And sometimes one would take a tumble, and you would hear it fall down a great distance and then clamber up again.
Here is a picture of the Maple Inn. It is on the left. They do not show you the mice! We got used to having them around.
But just because I got used to them then does not mean I want to get used to them now!
So what I am going to do is clean up the bedroom from top to bottom. It will be tough because the bedroom is a mess with dressers too crammed with stuff and clothes lying around. I have just had no time to clean it up.
When I started writing my book on Leonard Pennario no one told me there would be days like this! I think I am too preoccupied with Pennario's life to look after my own life adequately. I am afraid that is what is happening.
Well, I am not going to let this depress me. Everyone has a mouse story. That is because in Buffalo we have these long winters and old houses. Long winters + old houses = mouse. That is the geometrical truth.
My piano teacher, the eminent pianist Stephen Manes, had the world's best mouse story. That is Stephen pictured at left. I wish I could have found a bigger picture on the Internet but that is all I could find. There are no pictures of him out there. It must be his way of making sure he stays off my blog. Ha, ha! Lots of luck!
Once years ago, I interrupted my performance of Beethoven's Opus 109 to tell Stephen about a mouse problem I was having. He got that funny look people always get when they have a mouse story and are not sure whether to tell it to you. Their sense of humor is struggling with their sense of shame. I know that feeling, believe you me.
But then Stephen spilled. And it was a good story. There had been these mice in his house. They had tried everything to get rid of them but the mice seemed to survive everything. Finally he found out why.
What was happening was, every night, he and his wife would set the table for breakfast. And they would put out their vitamins so they would remember to take them.
And the mice were eating the vitamins!
They were turning into Supermice!
I can't remember how Stephen was ultimately able to solve the problem. I was laughing too hard to absorb the story's ending. But maybe I should ask him.
Then again, maybe the noise in the bedroom was really Howard's sleep apnea machine after all. Yes, I am sure that it was.
And if I find out it isn't, I can always just turn up the Beethoven.