Category Archives: Future Folklore

There’s a mouse on my windshield, what am I gonna do?

I was stopped at a red light on the way home from an evening appointment last night when I saw something moving near the windshield wipers on the outside of the car. I had been parked in the Short North, so I tried to focus on it in the dark, expecting it to be a flier for a night club or some art event flickering in the breeze. Instead, it kept moving up, up, up… until it was in the dead center of my windshield, where I could clearly recognize its form as definitively mouse-like.

I, of course, shrieked like a seven-year-old as the critter made a panicked circle before descending back under the hood. I made a meek attempt to draw it back out by turning on the wipers, and when it didn’t, worried that I had driven it deeper into the bowels of the car. I then drove the next mile or so in my own panic, a phantom mouse scaling my right leg over and over until I could get up the road where it was well lit and safe to stop.

I popped the hood, and saw that there was a little evidence that the mouse was trying to make a nest in the well of the windshield, but there was no mouse to be seen. I called Dan, whose suggestions included: “Um, maybe turn up the heat?” “Get an umbrella to swat it away with” and the extra reasonable: “If it does somehow end up inside of the car, pull over so you don’t freak out and kill yourself.” Then I tried to convince myself, and him, that it must have fallen out of the bottom of the car before I got in to make the rest of the trip home.

A few minutes later, on a stretch of road where the speed limit was about 40 mph, the mouse reemerged and crawled across the outside windshield right at eye-level in front of me, clinging to the glass in the face of high freezing wind like Indiana Jones. It made it all the way to the edge, where I’m not sure if it took a flying leap or managed to find another way to hang on, perhaps in my door. Mice have such bizarre contortionist abilities, who knows? I climbed out the passenger door when I got home so that I wouldn’t find out, because as much tougher as I think motherhood has made me, I’m apparently a freaky coward unless I’m actually protecting my son.

Our garage is a separate structure from our house, where any mouse who has dared cross the threshold has been made into mincemeat by the cat in a matter of hours. I considered letting him pay a visit to the garage, but its too cold. Google searches for “mouse in car,” “mouse in engine” and “mouse on windshield,” were mostly useless, except to make me worry that a family of critters might now live in my engine, where they are happily gnawing away at all of my electric wires and my air filter.

The one potentially useful suggestion I found said that mice steer clear of peppermint essential oil. All we had on hand was some Dr. Bronner’s peppermint castille soap, which has been liberally applied to various parts of my car, inside and out. I’d like to see this experiment increase the product’s uses to 19-in-one: shampoo your hair, clean your dentures, rid your car of mice, etc.

Today’s ride to preschool should be… bracing.

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Things I remember about being younger

I spent part of the summer that I turned 20 hanging out with a guy I’ll call Ted who had the word wiggle in his last name. (Really.) He was obsessed with Stan Lee and constantly drew cartoons on the backs of envelopes, napkins and stray scraps of paper. We canvassed southern Connecticut with clipboards from Ralph Nader’s citizen action group and hung out late with our team after work on the Long Island Sound beaches we wanted to see cleaned up. I made him listen to Boogie Down Productions and we drove to Giants Stadium to see David Bowie who sang “Young Americans” only because we were there, we were certain.

I bid him an amicable goodbye and drove back to Ohio in late July, ready to take a road trip with my best childhood friend. She and I took one leg of our trip north, where we hiked the Niagara gorge, listened to a Canadian bartender hold forth about the secret meanings of songs by the Guess Who, wandered the streets of Toronto and got turned away from a Hard Rock Café because of a rip in the knee of my jeans. On our southern leg, we spent time in hostels in Baltimore and D.C. so we could go to free museums for a couple of days, but the time we planned to spend on the beach was destined to be rainy, so we turned the car back north instead.

She had moved out to Western Massachusetts, close to where I was going to college, after doing some road trip time on her own and visiting me twice. She always set her arrival date on the full moon because we have been unequivocally, comfortably silly together ever since we met in the fourth grade. She tried classes at UMass for a bit, but people and comforts in Ohio called her home that summer. She left a sort-of boyfriend out east, and he wanted to see her home state, so we made the trek back toward the Berkshires to retrieve him.

Ted was staying with one of his own childhood friends in Waterbury, Connecticut trying to figure out the next step in his life. He invited us to stop and stay on the living room futon, because our northern detour had kept us in the car for over 10 hours already and we needed a break.

Ted’s friend’s real name was Lenny, but late in high school, he insisted that everyone called him Sean because he was obsessed with Sean Penn. By the time I met Lenny, he wasn’t obsessed with Sean Penn anymore. He was obsessed with Billy Idol, but a third name change didn’t seem reasonable, so Sean he remained, except to Ted, who found the whole thing hilarious, and insisted on calling him Lenny/Sean.

We walked into Lenny/Sean’s apartment while he was still at work, so Ted greeted us alone. The shelves in the entry hallway were full of photos of Lenny/Sean’s family. Among the obvious parents and uncles and grandparents and cousins were two framed pictures of Billy Idol. He sat casually in a chair in one shot, every part of his body completely relaxed, except for his shellacked hair. He wore shades and a leather jacket in the other, giving the camera an uncharacteristically shy smile over his shoulder. Ted picked up one of the frames and handed it to me. It was clear that the pictures came from a magazine.

The living room had a more overt homage, with a giant white silk screen tapestry of sneering Billy hanging over the futon. The three of us ate pizza and collapsed on the floor, staring up at the pop star’s mean-looking mug.

“Aw… cheer up, Billy,” one of us said, which we all found unreasonably funny. We laughed, manic and punch-drunk for what seemed like a half an hour as we reassured the giant, sneering face that there was no reason to be so angry, that things weren’t so bad.

We regrouped by the time that Lenny/Sean came home from work and settled in for a visit, which was pleasant and free of any mention of “White Weddings” or “Rebel Yells.” Then he grabbed his guitar and sat on the edge of the futon. Ted shot me a slightly alarmed, but bemused look.

Lenny/Sean sang us a song that he wrote, which, to my freshly 20-year-old brain, sounded just fine enough, and thankfully, there were no sneers involved.

But then he launched into a long solo, which he dovetailed into another song that we didn’t recognize, until Lenny/Sean sang the chorus with conviction: “Flesh! Flesh for Fantasy…”

We raised our fists, sneered and sang along.

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Update on the nameless faces

I guess I’m not the only person who loves a good mystery.

I had absolutely no idea how much attention this post would receive. Throughout last weekend, I watched the statistics pile up as people from all over the world shuffled through, eager to look for and offer clues.

Here are a few of the insights and suggestions that people had:

• To try and date the Hello Kitty shirt that the one child is wearing in order to figure out when the pictures were taken. I’ve done some preliminary searching for vintage/nostalgia Hello Kitty tees, but haven’t had much luck. Does anyone have more suggestions about how or where I could track this?

• There was the suggestion that the “Welcome Friends” sign could mean that the family members are Quaker. Being in Central Ohio, with a lot of family connections and regular travel east of of here (mostly to Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut), this seems like a reasonable suggestion, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

• I found the suggestion that the two children are twins really interesting. They look so different, but could clearly be the same age. The gender of the Hello Kitty child seems to have confounded a lot of people. You can see the traces of a ponytail on his/her shoulder, but if these were taken in the 1980s (the dawn of Hello Kitty in the U.S., it was pointed out to me), that would also be the age of the mullet, so who knows?

• It was suggested that experts at police stations could render projections of these faces in older years to aid the search, but I can’t really afford to go and have that done. Anyone know a person with such a skill, or have access to software that we could use to do that?

I did send links to this post to a number of family members and close friends who have been to my mother’s house in recent years, but there has been no movement on that front. Since I’m from a family with scads of steps, halves and in-laws in my tree, I plan to send out some more over the holidays to see if I can shake out any more information.

If there are any new developments, I will keep you posted!

To find all posts related to this one, click here.

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Which of these things is not like the other?

It’s surprisingly difficult to find space-themed toys for toddlers. (Last night, Declan slept with a plastic Pluto in his hand.)

So when I poked around in the toy section of a second-hand store last week, I was thrilled to find two sealed bags of space stuff, replete with astronauts, an alien, a satellite dish and a rover, all for about $3. It struck me as a little odd, however, that the construction worker from the Village People was also included.

Life soundtrack: The Village People, The Casablanca Records Story, “Macho Man”
Village People - The Casablanca Records Story - Macho Man

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