Of all the life changes I've been through in the last six months most of them have been resoundingly positive. I no longer resent the people I spend most of my time with, I have dreams that don't involve fitting around someone else's lifeplan, I can walk comfortably, not worrying about stomping around on anyone else's eggshells or fragile dainty ego. Now I spend less money on food, less time cleaning, more time being happy, being able to do whatever I want to at exactly the time I want to. And never ever having to worry about what someone else will think. In fact, somedays the glass half-empty list mostly contains not having a ready supply of chunky mansize socks to steal and having to do the washing up myself. Which is entirely fine with me if it also means not having to relinquish control of the remote.
Even taking the bins out, which was my super most awfully hated task pre-breakup is preferable to having to pick up someone else's discarded underwear. That was until I peered into the (supposedly) empty wheelie bin to find two beady eyes peering back at me. What happened next, I'm entirely ashamed to admit was an entirely girly response, which might have included some shrieking, door slamming and the Pankhursts adjusting position in their graves.
Having lived in London where you are supposedly never more than 10ft from a rodent creature you would think I'd be pretty adept at dealing with unwelcome visitors (and I'm not just talking about my ex-mother-in-law). But in those years in London I never encountered anything more unpleasant than a cheeky squirrel or the occasional bout of fox sex (though I did once get on the tube with Harriet Harman in Elephant and Castle, and that was decidedly unpleasant too). I was woefully unprepared in my new suburban home to deal with this godawful creature who was no doubt plotting my doom as I wondered what the hell I was supposed to do.
I know I'm supposed to call someone in these circumstances but the only answer I can come up with in my half-shock is 'Ghostbusters' and I'm not sure I have their number. The second alternative, that all the intellect, life experience and feminist politics I have been exposed to in my life shuddered at, was to call the ex. And here lies the problem. My brain automatically assumes 'rescue me' posture as seen in countless movie style heroines. I grew up watching Tank Girl ffs, I should have nuked the freaking thing. Nevermind the irrationality of calling the ex, who
makes my skin crawl worse than an army of rats, lives over 100 miles away, useless in an emergency, never answers my calls and is not exactly vermin baiting strongman type anyway.
In the end, I did what all single 21st century damsels in distress do, I updated my FB status (where one of my friends offered to send her boyfriend round to get rid of it) and then I called my mom. Who suggests maybe a call to Environmental Health would be more useful (than calling Ghostbusters at least). They issue me with two boxes of council funded rodent poison (which, is reassuringly named 'Mouse Killer II' and comes in a box that looks like the kind of 80's B-movie I used to stay up late on a Saturday night to watch) leaving me more than equipped to deal with this and any further rodent population (jury's out on whether it will help with the rats who replied to my Craiglist Personals ad).
But this whole experience annoyed the crap out of me. At what point did I get so conditioned into helplessness that my only option was to call a man to come help me? How did I get so programmed that in a crisis I reach for the arms of a rescuer, and why, instinctively does that rescuer have to be a man? At what point have I been single long enough, independent, strong and feisty enough that calling the ex is not my first option?
p.s. I managed to deal with my furry friend myself, by kicking the bin over from behind a partly closed door, while simultaneously trying not to hyperventilate and attempting to portray calm, cool, collected strong female role-model in front of my son. I did not use the poison, of course, it scared the crap out of me just having it in the house and I love all furry creatures (just not in such close proximity to my face).