Tuesday, July 05, 2016


There are many things in life I'm good for, but acts of valor are usually not high on that list.

If you need a rockin' mixtape, I'm here for you. If you require some quality time with cats, I can provide it. If you'd like to have a discussion about pop culture that goes on WAY longer than you anticipated, I'm your guy.

But if it's brute machismo you're looking for, I'm pretty much the last guy you call. Some of us are cut out to be heroes, and some of us are better suited making fun of heroes in a newspaper column. Coincidentally enough, a funny thing happened to me this week.

I received a call from a geniune damsel in genuine distress. Finally, it was MY shot to play the hero. Move over, Mario and Luigi, there's a new guy here to rescue the princess. If you hear a strange noise, it's just the sound of unbridled testosterone coursing through my body.

The call was from my friend Melissa. Not only does she manage a successful and popular restaurant, but she's also an amazing single mom to two awesome kids. The woman is a rock of strength, and truth be told, she's on MY short list whenever I need a hero.

But this Melissa was neither calm, cool, nor collected. The only words that stuck out were "mouse!" "basement!" and "help!"

THIS was a call to arms I could answer. Mice are one of the few things in nature that don't especially terrify me. In fact, I'm something of an expert, given my numerous run-ins with them, of which there have been precisely THREE:

#1: Back when I lived in my old apartment, I awoke one morning to a cat jumping on my chest and proudly spitting a dead mouse directly onto my neck. This is NOT, as it turns out, the ideal way to start your day, and I almost had to call into work with an advanced case of heebie-jeebies.

#2: In same apartment, back in the pre-mortgage days when I could afford such extravagance, I employed a housekeeper who came by occasionally to ensure that my lifestyle never crossed the fine line between "messy" and "biohazard." It was one such afternoon when I was disturbed from my important video gaming by screams. She had bent over to pick up a cat toy only to discover the toy was, in fact, a long-deceased yet quite real mouse. Don't worry, I handled the situation like a real man, with some rubber gloves, a full roll of paper towels, and a macho mantra that went something like, "Ew! Ew! Ew! Ew!"

#3: A few years ago, I was here at work when a mouse ran across my desk at breakneck speed. Again, I reacted responsibly, which was to make THIS noise: "Bfaaackthpf!" while having what I now presume was a mild heart attack.

But honestly, mice don't scare me unless they actually jump out and scare me. They're cute. How hard could this be? As I got in the car, I fired up Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero" to great effect.

Upon arrival, I quickly discovered that my rock of a friend is a serious mouse-o-phobe. Upon discovering her uninvited houseguest earlier that night, she had promptly raced to Wal-mart and returned home with two dozen sticky glue mousetraps, which she had already strategically deployed throughout her basement. It was overkill city, and poor Mickey didn't stand a chance.

I, however, was in a good spot. Let's be honest, if that mouse popped out, I wouldn't have any clue what to do other than go, "Aww! It's so cuuuute!" But with an army of people and death traps every two feet, any self-respecting mouse would be DEEP in hiding, right? All I had to do was walk around the room, look concerned, reassure everyone that the traps would do the trick, and depart as a calm and heroic champion. I just had to pray the mouse wasn't already dead in one of those traps, because I sure didn't wanna touch it. Ew.

As it turned out, having the mouse DEAD in one of those traps would have been ideal.

"Mom, we got him!" her son exclaimed as I tried to stifle the expletive trying to leave my mouth. If you ever take ANYTHING away from any of my columns, let it be this: never use glue traps unless you really REALLY have a grudge against mice. I'll spare you the visuals, but I've seen less gruesome exits on "Game of Thrones," people. Mickey was in the glue trap, but he sure wasn't dead, and he was the only one less pleased about the current situation than myself.

I'm capable of many things, but dispatching a twitching animal to the netherworld just isn't in my repertoire. But it HAD to be, right? I heeded the call for a hero, and this hero needed to man up. I just had to steel myself, take a deep breath, and heroically... let a 9-year-old take it from there. That's right, before I could muster the guts to even ask for a rubber glove, Melissa's 9-year-old son bounded in, grabbed the trap, and went about re-enacting the ending of Old Yeller while the rest of us watched in abject horror. Melissa was crying, her daughter was crying, her son started crying, and then I nearly lost it.

Nice one, Shane. You were summoned to be a hero, and in record time you traumatized an entire family and perhaps even taught a 9-year-old the joys of murder. Well done. But as I stood there looking at an entire family in tears, it dawned on me. There might be manlier heroes out there than me. Maybe even 9-year-old ones. But a REAL hero knows how to play to his strengths -- and if there's one thing I'm good at, it's taking life's problems and ignoring them to the best of my ability. And with that, I shouted the four most heroic words I know:


Ten minutes later, we were all contentedly stuffing our faces and laughing our heads off with nary a flashback of rodenticide. Melissa has no more squatters, her son doesn't appear to be psychologically scarred, and her daughter? Well, as soon as I switched the conversation to music, she asked me to make her a mixtape. That's the kind of heroics I might just be able to pull off.        

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