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Monday, October 15, 2012

RIP, Little Chippie

After I dragged my big purple suitcase (okay, my son-in-law calls it a steamer trunk) up the stairs a week ago, I reached into the bedroom hall to flip on the light, and there against the white wall was a shadow puppet of a chipmunk pussyfooting (I know, right?) its way from my son’s room into the laundry room. 

I did what anyone would do.  I ran down the hall and slammed the door, trapping it inside.  [Spoiler Alert: this story does not have a happy ending for the chipmunk.]

An hour or so later, I grabbed my cat Wumpus and shoved him into the laundry room for a close up and intimate visit with Chip (or maybe it was Dale).  As I tried to relax in a deep tub of hot water, I was serenaded with background music of continual and plaintive meowing.  Wrapped in my fleece robe, I released Wum, and he dashed directly to his food bowl. 

Later that night he sniffed at the slot beneath the door.  Yes, Mister, you were supposed to do something about it.  It seems he is quite good at bringing chipmunks in through the (temporary and now dismantled) cat door from the porch in order to frolic with them around the house, but, like oh so many men, once he’s had his fun, he loses interest. 

The next day I emptied my suitcase and watched the development of quite a mound of dirty clothes.  My laundry room is more of a large closet really, so putting the clothes in the machine while standing on tip top hoping a small rodent wouldn’t run over my feet was not acceptable.  I headed to Home Depot where they do not sell anything called a chipmunk trap.  I thought  an old-fashioned mousetrap (they make some that are huge) would be the most effective thing, but I was afraid I’d snap off a finger baiting it or a toe walking around it.  Instead, I bought a set of those enclosed rat traps where the animal dies tidily inside -- blech.  I added a couple of peanuts to the bait (thank you, Google), tucked them around the washer and dryer and let the laundry build up two more days.

Okay, eventually you need clean underwear, right?  And the peanuts in the traps remained steadfastly untouched.  Hey, when I’d gotten home it was dark; I was tired; I was hungry -- maybe I imagined the whole thing.  I opened the door and stuffed in the first load.  Let the chip(munks) fall where they may.  My hope was that if the thing was in there, it would venture out, Wumpus’ interest would be rekindled, and the final skirmish would begin.  My fear was that Chip (or Dale) would burrow into the wallboard and bear a litter of adorable babies that would infest my house.  Again, blech. 

Two more days went by.  Wumpus occasionally sniffed around the area of the laundry room, and now the laundry was at least fitting inside the hamper.  I draped a damp dishcloth over the washer to dry out until I got to it.  The room developed that damp, moldy dishcloth smell.  I ran the appropriate load.  The smell persisted.

I craned my neck behind the washer and dryer.  Nothing.  I took a flashlight and looked underneath, a scary process lest something run out at my face, but all I saw were wayward fabric softener sheets.  I rarely use softener sheets, but apparently when I do, they scamper underneath the washer and dryer to lead silent yet festive lives.  I dragged the dryer out a foot or so (all the room there is).  Nothing.  I dragged the washer out a foot or so, cringing to look.  Nothing. 

Denial is a great place to live, and I had all but decided, indeed, there was no little chippie, but the the smell persisted into day five.  *Big sigh*  There was no way it was the aftermath aroma from wet dishcloths.  More surveillance.

YIKES!  Was that a piece of string?  Nope, it was a tail!  BLECH.  When I’d moved the washer, Chip (or maybe that was Dale) got dragged out and pushed under the vacuum cleaner.  Now I could see a little tail curling from under the brushes.  At least he (or she) didn’t get cut in half when dragged under heavy machinery.  *Involuntary shudder at the thought of having to clean up chipmunk parts*  Fortunately a body bag was readily made from an inverted plastic baggie, scooping and turning it right-side-out so he (or she) slid in. 

Crisis over, and smell and body disposed of, I went to watch TV.  The thought sat in my head that a dead chipmunk had been desiccating away in my laundry room for a minimum of three days.  For about 20 minutes I managed to ignore the fact that it was time to wash the laundry room floor.  I don’t know how often you wash your laundry room floor, but I cannot remember the last time I did so. I mean, all I do is pad around in there in my socks while stuffing clothes into the machines; how grimy can it get?  All I can tell you is, those softener sheet dancing around under there, they kick up a lot of dirt.

Anyway, my laundry room is now certifiably clean.  My clothes are washed and put away, and Wumpus walks around, tail held high, as proud as if he actually accomplished something wonderful.
Goodbye, little Chip (or Dale):  RIP.

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