Saturday, February 12, 2011

How Could I Say No?

Last year I had the unpleasant experience of attending a 2 year old's birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, which was slightly more fun than getting my annual teeth cleaning.  I realize it's not all about me, so I didn't mind the screaming kids and the rubberized pizza.  My main complaint was how the whole thing felt so industialized.  The party room had multiple tables, with one lucky birthday boy or girl heading each table, waiting for their recognition of their special day.  After herding a dozen kids to the table for the scheduled show time, we sat waiting for some teenage kid in a Chuck E Cheese costume to show up and reward each child with his 15 seconds of individualized attention.

And we waited.  And waited.  Apparently Chuck was doing double duty as the short order chef or out taking a smoke break because he was no where to be found.  If you think that a bunch of kids who would rather be playing any number of video games rather than sitting around a table waiting for a giant mouse to make his appearance would get bored and annoyed at this delay, you are grossly underestimating the impatience and inpertinence of children. 

Finally the giant furry creature showed up, and we sang Happy Birthday while Chuck E. made his way down the line and put an inflatable crown on each kid's head and they blew out their candles.  Then it was on to the next kid.  I'm surprised they didn't simplify the procedure by making an assembly line and putting the kids on a conveyor belt.  I have to give credit to the teenage girls trying their best to keep everyone's attention and get everyone to sing their birthday songs while Chuck danced in that odd way that all mascots have to try to express themselves without speaking.  They showed an indefatigable spirit that must be Herculean to muster by the third day on the job.  After that event I determined that I was done with formal birthday parties with hordes of children.

Then today I got a call from the 2 year old's mom.  She tells me that the little guy decided he wants me to come to his 3rd birthday party.  Knowing my feelings on such events she told him he would have to call and ask me himself.  Suprisingly, he exuberantly agreed to do so.  She thought he might forget but after dinner he reminded her that he needed to call me, so she placed the call and put him on the phone.  He asked me if I would come to his birthday party, and proceeded to let me know that it would be at McDonalds, he was going to have a construction theme, and he would be blowing out his construction candles.  After we chatted for a couple of minutes, mom told him it was time to get off the phone and so I told him I would see him tomorrow and he said "Bye, I love you".

How could I say no to that!  That little guy totally melted my heart.  So if you're looking for me tomorrow around 2 O'clock, I'll be the dude with no kids at the McDonald play land with a big smile on my face, thoroughly enjoying myself. 

Unwelcome Visitors

Recently I discovered that some freeloading tenants had moved into my house.  This was an unpleasant discovery that warranted extreme measures to provide relief.  Don't get me wrong, I love animals, but only if they are somewhere in the food chain or show me some sort of loyalty.  Until mice can be engineered to eagerly greet me at the door when I come home or can be the main ingredient at a BBQ, I have no need of them.

A friend of mine told me he had experienced great success with glue traps.  I have always been a fan of the traditional spring loaded mouse trap (isn't that the point of the saying about building a better mousetrap, that this simple device is as good as it gets?) but I foolishly took his advice and purchased a set of glue traps and placed two of them behind the piano and one under the sink.  I knew they had been around the piano because they had held a party on my keyboard which I discovered when I lifted the wooden tray which prevents dust from accumulating on it, but also creates a cool, dark place for mice to do their business, both number 1 and number 2, if you catch my drift.  They also left reminders of their visit under the sink.

Needless to say, cleaning mouse poop and pee off my piano keys did not make me want to accept my new guests into my house.  In fact, relieving yourself on any of my furniture is a sure way to not get invited back, FYI.  Unfortunately, the glue traps did not do the trick.  After briefly considering setting up a trap that involved 2 ball bearings, a boot and a mini-bathtub, among other things, I settled on the traditional design baited with peanut butter.  (Most people don't realize it, but George Washington Carver spent countless hours trying to develop a suitable substitute for cheese before finally creating this irresistable, gooey delight.  Had he not been alergic to cats, millions of school children may have missed this staple of the sack lunch.)  

So I stopped by Walmart and got a 4 pack of the traditional mousetraps.  The next morning I found the first victim testifying to the supremacy of this excellent invention.  3 days later and I had eliminated 3 more invaders.  Apparently mice don't communicate danger very well, nor do they learn from the mistakes of others.  The last one finally met his demise a week later, after I noticed the peanut butter on the trap was gone but it hadn't been set off.  A new, slightly more hair-triggered trap fixed that shortfall, and my home is now rodent free.  If anybody wants to buy some unused glue traps let me know.