estimated read time: 3 minutes


I’m getting in my car to take it to Firestone for an oil change. Jack’s planning to follow me so I have a ride home.

Me (as I walk past my car): Hey, Jack? Any chance there could be a mouse in my car?

Jack: Why?

Me: Well, because look… there are little pieces of tissue on the floor. Doesn’t that look kinda mouse-ish?

Jack: Huh.

In Jack-speak, “Huh” can be interpreted in several ways. It can mean, “I just saw something interesting on Facebook, and I kinda want to tell you about it, but I know you’re in the middle of something and you don’t interrupt particularly well, so I’m going to say ‘Huh’ a couple of times, all curious-like and kinda loud, to see if you finally say, ‘WHAT?!'” Alternate meanings include: “Oh, that’s disappointing” and “You’re talking complete political nonsense.” As it turns out, it can also mean, “It’s quite likely there has been—or may still be—a mouse in your car, but I’m not sure how you’re going to respond to that news, so I’m neither confirming nor denying.”

Me: I mean, I’m not afraid of mice, but I’d really rather not be surprised by one going down the highway or anything.

Jack: Huh.

Before I get in Jack’s car at Firestone, I take a photo of the shredded tissue in my back seat and send it to a friend.

Friend: You need to find that mouse or buy another car.

I’ve never heard this friend say, “Huh.”

Monday Evening

We pick up my car, and I park it in the garage.

Me: Hey, Jack! The tissue doesn’t look any different. If I did have a mouse, I don’t have one anymore, I guess. Right?

Jack: Huh.

Tuesday Morning

I’m supposed to be leaving to meet my friend (the non-“huh”ing friend) for a ride on the Katy Trail. I open the passenger door. I see shredded tissue on the front floorboard. I’m fairly certain it wasn’t there last night.

Me (to myself): Huh.

I peer in the back window. There’s definitely more shredded tissue than there was last night.

Me: Oh.

I notice tiny black pieces of something-or-other on the back seat.

Me: UGH!

I dial Jack’s number. He doesn’t answer. I really want to go for a bike ride, so I contemplate getting in my car anyway. But then I have visions of running 70 MPH down I-64 and having my new wee rodent pal scramble across the back of my seat, at which time I would pull over to the shoulder rather abruptly—narrowly avoiding side-swiping a semi—leap out of my car, throw open the doors, and jump up and down screaming at the mouse to GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT. 

Me to Jack (via text): Uh, there has most definitely been a mouse in my car today. Gah! I can’t drive it not knowing where that little dude is.

Jack: Can you get to Rural King to get the cab guard to put in your car?

Rural King is like 20 minutes from my house. By highway. So… no. No, I cannot get to Rural King.

Me: I don’t think I can drive my car, Jack.

Jack: Well, we will save on fuel. [grinning emoticon]

Jack is clearly more courageous via text than he is in person.

By this point, my friend—whom I called because now I cannot POSSIBLY drive to the trailhead—has arrived. She loads my bike while I pull my car out of the garage and into the driveway, where it will remain until the Rodent Crisis of 2016 has concluded. 

Jack (still via text, copying from The Google, it appears): Place deterrents such as cedar wood, dog or human hair or peppermint oil inside.”

The text continues, but I stop reading at peppermint oil, run in the house, and dig through a bag at the bottom of the pantry. AHA! I rush back to the car and dab oil on the steering wheel, passenger seat, and center console.

Friend: What are you doing?

Me: Jack told me to put peppermint oil in here.

Friend: You just happen to have peppermint oil?

Me: Yeah. Leftover from that peppermint sugar scrub I made at Christmas.

Friend: So you’re just going to…

I duck back in the car, turn the bottle upside down, and fling oil everywhere. Multiple times. A whole, whole lot of it. Finally, I throw the peppermint in my bag and get in my friend’s car.

Friend: Well, you smell like Christmas now, so there’s that.


I’d love to tell you I’ve since found the mouse, befriended and named him, and taken him to PetSmart to choose some colorful tunnels for his new multi-level Kritter Keeper. But the truth is I don’t know where he is, and I don’t like it one little bit. And if The Google’s to be believed, he is not at all pleased that I’ve turned the Accord into a candy cane, so he’s probably really, really angry. Oh, and Jack “Huh” Hartnett is going out of town in the morning for a week, so guess who gets to deal with the peppermint-scented, newly psychopathic rodent?  

Maybe the teenager will switch cars with me.