2010-08-26 / News

Of mice and men

Flotsam and Jetsam
By Donna Drago

You should never get between a man and his muscle car. At my house, the muscle car is a very well pampered and loved item. It lives in the garage and is only taken out on beautiful days for top-down rides around the island. Occasionally, it comes out of the garage for a bath and a wax, which includes rubdowns with no fewer than a half-dozen different cleansers, brighteners and unguents.

It’s like a day at a spa.

Muscle cars remind men of all the fun they had in their youth. The cars all make low, throaty noises and turn heads as they cruise around town. The 1970sera American muscle car is like a work of art – it must be preserved, protected and put on display. It’s an unspoken code: You just don’t mess with a guy’s muscle car.

Recently, my husband got out his turquoise blue 1972 Cutlass and asked me if I wanted to go for a spin.

“Sure,” I said. But no sooner had I buckled myself in, I noticed a bad aroma.

“It smells like pee,” I said, wrinkling up my nose. Now, this is something that the muscle car owner just doesn’t want to hear – it offends him that somehow, his work of art might be offensive.

So, I kept my mouth shut about the smell – once we got going, the motor fumes took over anyway and masked whatever natural scents were lurking about.

Maybe 20 minutes into our ride, we were on North Main Road, passing the entrance to West Reach Estates. The top was down. The windows were down – it was a gorgeous day.

I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye. I looked toward my elbow, which was partly hanging out the open window. There was a mouse. It was hanging on for dear life as it tried to navigate the length of the door, headed for the presumed safety of the dashboard. I let out a girly scream and pointed in mock horror at our “guest.”

It made it to the dash, but for some reason, decided it wanted to get onto the hood. It rounded the window and, looking like an aerial wing-walker, got itself onto the outside of the window – all this at 40 miles an hour!

So, guess what my husband does? He turns on the windshield wipers!

The poor mouse was hanging on to the passenger-side wiper for several swipes when it finally got up the nerve to let go and plunge into the wiper well, where we didn’t see it again. Good!

The next time my husband asked if I wanted to go for a ride, I asked him to open both the hood and the trunk and to bang something loudly on both ends of the car or I was not getting in. He did and I inspected all the various orifices of the vehicle before I sat down.

It still smelled funky and there was plenty of evidence that the tenants were still living in the car.

Last weekend, we took the car out of the garage and opened all the doors, windows, the trunk and hood. In the trunk, we discovered that the vinyl “boot,” which covers up the convertible top when it’s down, was full of holes. The foam rubber was mostly gone and it was unsalvageable, so it went into the trash.

We also discovered that the fire-retardant blanket material that lines the underside of the hood was also disturbed, so we removed it and found three nests – the largest of which was about the size of a loaf of bread. It was made up of flaked foam rubber, the masticated vinyl from the boot, and some of the asbestos blanket.

I have to give the mice credit – it looked like a very cozy and fireproof place to live.

We got out the leaf blower and blew away all the evidence of the mice, their abodes and their litter. Then, we got out the Rabbit Scram – a product we use to keep the rabbits out of the garden. I made sachets out of cheesecloth, which we placed around the car and tucked up under the hood.

There’s a reason why Rabbit Scram is effective – it stinks! It smells sort of like curry, but different and very intense.

So, we have rid the car of guests, and have eliminated the smell of pee. My only problem now is that the car smells like the Kabob and Curry Express!

If you happen to be walking through town and notice a nicelooking blue Cutlass and wonder why all of a sudden you are craving Indian food – now, you know.

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