In the end, for all its media-inspired hype, Carmageddon turned out to be what some in the media aptly labeled Carmahaven.
But in its own convoluted way, this weekend and the run up to it—which may yet be remembered as one of the most intense periods of media-aided wordplay in recent memory—wrecked my long-awaited reunion with my childhood friend from London.
I had planned a Friday night dinner with my friend for more than a week, excited to finally have a chance to catch up with him after about 10 years. But after several days at the Bonaventure—just a quick hop, skip and a jump from Eagle Rock—acting on the advice of an over-cautious doorman, my friend jumped ship and high tailed it to the West Side to avoid the dreaded Carmageddon so that he could make it to LAX easily the next morning.
He gave me a call to let me know he had changed hotels, and was on his way to dinner. He would be taking a taxi from LAX and wanted to confirm my address.
“You’re what?” I exclaimed. “This is L.A.—you just can’t take a cab. From LAX to Eagle Rock at rush hour will cost about $500.”
He didn’t exactly understand the lay of the L.A. land.
Well, it went downhill from there. Mr. Fancy and I had been cooking and cleaning for two days to prep for my old friend—and all the while, my kids were building forts and horse arenas in the living room.
My visiting friend and I agreed that neither of us should try to be brave or foolish enough to drive across town during Carmaggedon rush hour. We’d have to wait until the next business trip to visit. True, the Godfather and his lovely wife were also coming to dinner, so all was not lost. But it just wasn’t the same.
All in all, I wonder if my expatriate buddy had somehow got whiff of the rodent infestation in our house—and had used Carmaggedon as an excuse to avoid visiting. Yes, it is true. It all started about a week ago when my husband, Mr. Fancy, found evidence of a rodent invasion behind the washing machine.
I immediately reported myself to the health department in the hope that it would shut my kitchen down. No such luck. I was told I would have to deal with the problem myself. Really, what is this world coming to? After all, the infestation in mi casa could start the next Great Plague—didn’t you read the news about the Chicago scientist who became the first American in more than 50 years to die of what Bloomberg News said was “a weakened form of plague bacterium previously thought to be harmless to humans?”
I ran out and bought some of those sticky traps. Well, the first night we did catch something, which seemed utterly counterintuitive to me. We heard the creature thrashing about. Mr. Fancy and I ran around like Abbot and Costello, trying to figure out how to lift the washing machine to get the dreaded creature out, when the rodent broke free from his trap.
“That was no mouse!” exclaimed Mr. Fancy—and I completely agreed: Neither of us have been to the tropics, where, I am told, there are sewer rats so big that no cat dares go near them. Bandicoots, they’re called—and if you delete the letters “coo” you get a better idea of what you’re up against.
“I’m moving out!” I told Mr. Fancy, who wanted me to tip the washing machine back so that he could climb under and chase the creature. I ignored him and went about packing my bags instead. Then, at 11:30 p.m., I called The Godfather.
He arrived within five minutes, looked me straight in the face and said: “One day, I might need a favor—but tonight, for you, I will whack this rat.” What followed was a lot of slamming and moving of furniture. But the hit was unsuccessful.
The next morning I sat down with our cat, Snowpuff, for a long discussion about the details of her contract. Her defense, she seemed to say, was that in return for her wages she is only responsible for mice, lizards and the occasional moth. Larger rodents require fancy organic cat-food and spa days.
I told Snowpuff I would give her a bonus if she could execute The Godfather’s unfinished contract. But she wasn’t—and isn’t—interested. When I threatened to fire her, she reminded me that she was tenured and will sue for harassment if I even bring up the subject again.
Next stop, , the best old-style hardware store in America. They always have exactly what I need and will actually show me how to use it. The store usually has several friendly customers who linger at the register to chat, catch up on sports, and occasionally offer friendly advice on how to catch varmints.
When I said I needed a rattrap, they smiled knowingly and I was led straight to the trap department. They showed me how to load the trap and discussed the pros and cons of baiting with cheese or peanut butter. Evidently, if you use cheese, you should use a little steel wool so that the critter won’t slide it off easily.
We have not yet caught anything in our trap. Mr. Fancy is convinced that the sticky trap incident scared the rodent away. I am convinced that I need another cat and several more traps.
In the meantime, I try to stay out of the laundry room as much as possible. In fact, I’m staying out of the house as much as possible. The kids are getting lots of playtime at the new playground and taking long bike trips up around . I won’t sleep soundly until that rat is wearing cement shoes at the bottom of the Los Angeles River.
I hope Ratmaggedon passes as quickly as Carmaggedon.