You’ve seen the scene many times in the movies, travel magazines, postscards: Tall, beautiful palm trees etched sharply against a gorgeous early evening orange sky over Los Angeles. You want to go. Fuggidaboudit!

Here’s the dirty little secret all City of Angels citizens know, but you don’t because you don’t live there, and if you’re visiting, the Chamber of Commerce keeps all of us from telling you. There are rats in those palm trees, way up at the top — big rats, rats the size of dachshunds. True story.

At dusk, in some neighborhoods, wealthy and poor, you can see the occasional rat scurry down, run along telephone wires and drop down. At night, when the hot Santa Ana winds raise the temperature, they come down and drink from the swimming pools in Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Hollywood. Rats drinking from the swimming pools. Snap!

Los Angeles can be a very dry place most of the year, and some water conservationists like to cover their front lawns with wide swaths of drought resistant ivy. The rats love those, too. I suppose there are rats with fear-of-height issues who disdain the palms. True story: Rodent elimination is a billion-dollar business in L.A. Bigger than recreational drugs. 

Those memories come to me today because of my own problems with rodents. I don’t have rats; I just thought you would like a different kind of Hollywood story instead of the same old piece about Amanda Bynes and Justin Bieber.

So I started with that story to get your attention focused on a less exciting story about mice, tiny creatures that Walt Disney made a fortune on by giving them cute ears and buttoned pants. We all love Mickey and Minnie, but not actively living in our Cheerios.

Last year, as my technician Brent at Toyota went looking for a problem in my Prius, he found that some mice, looking for warmth in my engine bed, also chewed up some wiring. A mouse chewed into my Prius.

It gets worse. That spring, my relatively new big black two-door Frigidaire started leaking slowly near the bottom. When Todd, the technician from the store where I bought it, investigated, it turned out that a mouse — perhaps the same one not fully sated on my Prius cables — had chewed through a water line. Todd replaced it. Clearly I had a Mickey problem.

Apparently with the help of many Minnies, Mickey had started a tiny family behind the push-in stove in my kitchen. Mickey had, with the help of his clan, found and enlarged a hole there and set up a condo. My carpenter, Skip, informed me that this is what they do, move in and, in a mousey way, lean forward. It turned out that the little black droppings I found here and there weren’t really part of the bird seed I had spilled in the kitchen. They were Mickey’s and Minnie’s droplets.

Reluctantly, I furnished my house with a myriad tiny boxes of mouse poison. I know. I don’t like poison, either, and I don’t care much for finding little corpses of Mickeys and Minnies in the basement, lying there like a crime scene from “The Killing,” all fuzzy gray and white, mouths agape, having passed on unexpectedly to the great mouse hole in the sky.

At first I thought it was damn nice of them to end their lives out of sight in the basement, instead of letting us find them spread out lifeless on the kitchen floor as we were sitting down to dinner.

Then I was told that this poison drove them insane with thirst, so that they went looking for water, which they drank until they died. I don’t have a swimming pool, and they probably don’t want to drink from the toilet, as I use those big pills that turn the toilet water blue. Who wants to drink blue stuff unless it’s a Blue Hawaiian served in a martini glass?

So they go to the basement, where, after having lived with me for a long time, they know that when it rains, I have a water problem down there. I feel bad about the whole thing. To die in a damp cellar is no way to go, even for a mini-rodent.

Would it be macabre, I wonder, to set out a small dish of water for them? OMG. Waiter? A double Blue Hawaiian; skip the lei.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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