Readers' Submissions

Not a Mouse Was Stirring

  • Written by BKKSteve
  • December 23rd, 2006
  • 9 min read


By BKKSW


HOGWASH! There’s an entire freaking family of rodents who have moved in for the Christmas holidays! Where to start.. Well, this is one of those rare weeks in Bangkok where you actually find yourself reaching for a blanket to cover yourself during the night or when sitting on the couch watching television. I find myself 100% dry for the first time in months and by this I mean I’m not going through what I call the “sweat cycle.” The sweat cycle goes something like this, get up in the morning and take a shower, stay comfortable until it’s time to go somewhere, go somewhere and about 30 minutes later sweat is starting to build, maybe sooner depending on the time of year (there are times you can’t get to the carpark and get the AC fired up and cooled off without getting wet with sweat first)), let the sweat build throughout the time outside and pray that you didn’t eat anything the day before where the sour smell will end up drying on your clothes as you dry off a bit in the office or a movie theatre, after all who wants to smell funky? You step in the door of your home and the first thing you do is take a shower, fresh clothes, and little movement the rest of the day waiting for the sun to set and the temps to drop without breaking a sweat again. Ever wonder why the local Thais walk down the soi ever so slowly and seem to weave back and forth? They’re experts at not working up a sweat and have finally tuned “sweat ‘O meters” that monitor heart rate, sodium levels, hydration, etc, and only allow their body to move within the green safety zones. The weaving is to take advantage of shade cover provided by all the beer signs hanging over the store fronts. I’ve found myself learning the “Bangkok Shuffle” when not in a hurry and have gained a certain level of proficiency, though it will take many more years to master. Anyway, once the heat lifts for the day and the sun is down you take another shower and another change of clothes so you can sleep with some degree of comfort. You get up in the morning and repeat. And no, I rarely use air conditioning in my home, only for fantasies. I find that keeping my place at a comfortable 75Fand 50% humidity is all well and good, until I walk out the front door into 100F+ and 90%+ humidity and get bathed in sweat in under 30 seconds and truly hate the time away from the AC. Much better to adjust and learn what fans are for..

But this is late December, just a few days before Christmas and I’m laying here at noon, windows open, keyboard on lap, covered with a blanket watching a “County Diva’s” on the E! channel. Shania Twain is one hot woman, she’s gotta be part Asian.. especially considering she’s married to a fat older man. See the pattern? Anyway, it’s cold! I’m actually shivering in this 79f weather and it feels good. I woke up at 0620 and went for a walk through the neighbourhood, maybe about 5kms, good for the heart and for staying in shape, and didn’t sweat a bit. It was a bit entertaining to see the locals jumping on the bus with sweaters and light jackets. You can go 4-5 years here and not see that happen. 5kms later I arrive home and normally I’d head straight for the shower and a change of clothes but this time I catch myself.. feel the small of my back, underarms, top of my head (heat rises keeping my hair wet most of the year), all dry! I decide to postpone the shower and clean the house. A good hour of cleaning duties later (housekeeper on vacation) still no sweat. Hell, out of habit I took a shower anyway and here I am after finding myself drying off quickly and getting into my clothes because I felt COLD! Crap!

So it's Christmas time. In two days Santa Claus is going to land on my balcony and come inside my condo and the only thing he’s going to find is a plastic plant. No Christmas here. My wife is in the states awaiting her swearing in ceremony as she passed her citizenship test last week and after that who knows, she’s grown to like the states and when/if she comes home is anyone’s guess. No sweat at this point, it’s like watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon. Someday I’ll have to write a submission about this and explain more. My younger son gets every other Christmas with me but this isn’t my year. My older son is married and home from two combat tours in Iraq as a Marine so I have lots to be thankful for. That still leaves me alone for the holidays. Not even a housekeeper stirring about. What’s a guy to do?

I have options, any guy in Bangkok has options. Heading to Pattaya for a few days of diving has crossed my mind but I hesitate to travel to Pattaya with Junea. Junea? WTF? Have I ever told you guys about Junea before? She’s my pet parrot. She’s about 11 months old and an African Grey and great company. I suppose that means I’m not alone? Usually I can leave her with the housekeeper when I travel, but if I travel now I need to get the neighbour or someone else to come in a feed her and I’m not crazy about that. She’s fun to travel with, but leaving her in a less than top quality hotel room would result in her not being there when I got back.. it’s like leaving 20k baht in a cage in your room.. gone. She’s sweet though and is just starting to talk. Once the bird flu ban is lifted I’ll be able to bring my other African Grey from the states over here and he speaks three languages, 1000 words, and knows most of the words in context. I know, you’ve always been told birds merely repeat words they’ve heard and don’t know what they mean. Uh huh… Do a Google on Alex the African Grey and read up on the little grey guy. He knows shapes, colours, can count, and more words in context than you could imagine. African Grey’s are like the Poindexter’s of parrots. Truly amazing. What all this means is that perhaps day trips to Pattaya but no overnighters. It also means I’m not really alone.. a parrot is stirring..

But more.. about the mice. I was never one of those freaky kids who kept rodents as pets when young. I hate the furry beady eyed disease carrying rodents. So it was with some horror that I heard noises above my overhead in the drop ceiling of my condo the other day. At first I’d swear it was a cat, a big cat, playing and running and making a bunch of noise up there. But there were also little feet making noise! I’d sit there on my couch for days pretending I didn’t hear the party upstairs and hoping they’d moved on.. but each night they’d return for a repeat appearance. Then, I go to my kitchen cupboard and find where mice had broken into food packages and I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I talked to building maintenance and they don’t do poison or non-Buddha approved methods of eradication. They suggested I set live traps and when I had caught them all they’d seal off the place in my cupboard they were coming in at. So off to the store and I found these 12-15” plastic fly paper type traps. You simply put some food in the middle, the mice go to eat the food, and their feet get stuck. In the morning you’re rewarded with a live mouse screeching at you (ever hear a mouse screech?) stuck on this plastic disc. Plastic disk? High-rise building? Balcony? Uh huh.. I always was a pretty decent Frisbee player. Whammooooo and the stuck mouse goes spinning off into space heading for the temporary village and the bonking tree as my target. The mouse screeching the entire time. I know.. you PETA supporters are going to join up with Green Peace and the Sierra Club and spray paint little animals on my SUV before burning it to the ground… SCREEEEECCHCHCHCHCHCHCHCHCH! I should sell tickets for the chance to do this.. Damn rodents! So far I’ve got 13 of them! It’s been about two weeks and no more captures and the cat in the ceiling hasn’t been here either. I must say, when the wind was right I came within a few meters of the bonking tree when it was being used and the screeching mouse scared the crap out of the happy couple. If I was thinking ahead I would have set up the camera and telephoto.. but alas great moments are often fleeting and never repeated.

I could call building maintenance to seal off the entry point.. but I think I’ll hold off for a possible Xmas visitor…J Any visitor will do.. If you’ve made it this far through my most boring submission of all time you’re wondering if I’m suffering from writer's block or something? I think I am. It’s been 20 days since my last blog entry on my photography website. Lots of stuff to write about, lots of news, but every other photography website’s blog does that stuff. I want my entries to be different, part of me. Something that sets them apart of the mundane letting you know about the latest new sub-$1000 dollar miracle digital DSLR.. there really are some great new choices out there.. but they really take the same pictures as last year's model and if you have a last year's model then there’s really no purpose of upgrading.. not yet. Anyway, I’m hoping this pathetic excuse for a submission will spark some creative juices, like Pavlov’s dog looking for that conditioned reflex.. I hope I’m not to be disappointed. Perhaps it’s just the season?

About the season. Merry Christmas to you all! If you celebrate other holidays than happy holidays but I still wish you a Merry Christmas. This is the season for giving and sharing and family and reflecting and all sorts of meaningful actions. Yet, I don’t feel it yet. I’m not sure if I will this year. But I hope you do.

Until next time..

Stickman's thoughts:

Christmas in Thailand is a funny time. On one hand the weather is ideal, really just about perfect, but on the other hand it just doesn't feel like Christmas and what is usually the happiest time of the year abroad is just another day really out here…