As some of you might remember, a couple months ago a devastating tornado went through our neighborhood, splintering entire houses into toothpicks and nearly killing our family. If you know me at all, you know that I never exaggerate. But really, the storm DID blow Wesley's sandbox away, blow down our neighbor's fence, and tear up the trees in our yard. And, more importantly, it scared the bajeebies out of me because it made me realize that we didn't have anywhere to hide except our bathroom. And while our bathroom is a lovely venue for eliminating body waste, it wasn't really made to be a tornado shelter. I guess a safe place to go in case of a tornado is one of those things you don't really need until you need it. Like flea powder for your dog or a Vanilla Ice cassette tape.
Well, after that traumatic incident, we (read: I) decided to get a storm cellar. My MIL found a local company that installs storm cellars so I called and made an appointment to have them come and put one in. My understanding was that they come to your house, dig a giant hole in the yard with a tractor, drop in the pre-made cellar, put dirt around it, and leave. Then, I go down in the cellar and add the finishing touches - hang some pictures, put out some potpourri, perhaps a little rug and maybe even draw a cozy fireplace on the wall to make it seem homey.
I did think to ask the saleswoman on the phone if there was a sample cellar that I could go and see. She told me where it was - a kind of remote area out in the country - and I set out to see it.
To say that it was in the middle of nowhere would be perfectly accurate. Had she not given me the directions down to the tenth of a mile, I would never have found it. The CIA couldn't have found it without directions.
I got out of the car (which I kept running in case I needed to get out of there fast) and walked through knee-high weeds to the cellar. I pulled open the door to get a good look. Oh, how I wish I had just ordered a cellar and called it a day. Inside the cellar was the thing I fear most in this world - a mouse. A MOUSE! The fact that it was dead and decaying was not help to me because - let's be real - it didn't just fall in there dead. No, it scurried in there alive.
Something very bad must have happened to me as a young child involving a mouse. I know that if I could just think rationally, a mouse really isn't going to hurt me. But when I see a mouse, I don't think rationally, I go into cardiac arrest. And so seeing this mouse crushed my dreams of our family seeking shelter during a bad storm, laughing and playing card games by flashlight. No, this had just turned into my own personal episode of Fear Factor. People, if a tornado was headed straight for me and I opened the cellar door to find a mouse in there, it would be a toss up - get killed by a tornado/die of heart attack from mouse...I might have to flip a coin on this one.
I tried to put it all in the back of my mind. The day finally arrived when a giant truck came hauling a cellar and a tractor. The guy in charge came to the door to ask me where to put it. I gathered my courage and asked him, "How do you keep mice from getting down there? I hate mice."
He grinned at me with his four pearly ecrus showing and said, "Boy, I don't know. My wife isn't afraid of the mice - it's the snakes that get in our cellar that bother her."
Someone hold me. Because this is going to take a lot more than potpourri.