My son forgot to do his chores last week. He forgot to do them the week before, as well. Consequently, he ran out of pajamas. Without knowing that his hamper was overflowing, I didn't wash a bit of his laundry for two weeks. I marvel at the fact that he has enough pajamas to last him that long, but that's another story. For this story, it's only essential to know that he had run out night clothes, and his dresser drawers were quickly emptying.
At first, I decided this was a prime opportunity for him to learn the importance of pushing his hamper to the laundry room each week; but soon, I was overcome by guilt, and I determined it was necessary for the lesson to be hastened. "No friends," I declared, "until the chores are done." With much weeping and gnashing of teeth, he completed his chores, and I started sorting.
Everything was going according to plan, and I was scheduled to finished his laundry by the time he came home from playing with friends. I turned the water on in the washer and added soap, when I noticed a wadded-up brown sock left in the tub from a load I couldn't remember doing. I debated- I could get it out, and it would be soaking wet, and likely smelly from sitting wet in the washer for who knows how long; or, I could leave it, and let it wash with the clothes, and figure out where it belongs later. The latter was the more logical option; after all, it would need to be washed. I defied logic. I reached for the sock.
It was squishier and furrier than I expected. Then I noticed its tail. The "wadded-up brown sock" dropped back into the water, and I saw it for what it was: a mouse. A dead mouse. And I had touched it.
I did what any reasonable human being would do after that. I washed my hands (twice? three times? more? Was there any soap left in the dispenser when I was done?) and considered soaking them in bleach.
Then I turned my attention to the matter of the mouse, which was still lying on the bottom of the wash tub with its tail bobbing along in the dissolving ripples. I thought of fleas and mice, germs and viruses, plagues and death. I had to rid that machine of mouse and death. It could not be trusted to launder my son's pajamas without infecting them with mouse. I began calculating the amount of bleach I would have to purchase to make an effective 9:1 ratio to disinfect the 45 gallon basin. Now I might be a poor math student, but even I easily figured out that this seemed like a ridiculous amount of bleach, and I still wasn't sure it would be effective, given the fact that it wouldn't remove the mouse for me. Cleaning and disinfecting are fine measures when the mouse is no longer present. There was still a dead mouse in this machine, and its disease-ridden tail was still waving gently in the water. This machine needed more than a kindly bleach rinse. This machine needed purging.
I envisioned dragging the machine to the backyard and filling the tub with gasoline. 45 gallons of undiluted fuel. When lit, the flames would surely reach the tops of the Ponderosa Pines that mark our property line, and the temperatures would obliterate any trace of Hantavirus the rodent had left in the tub. The heat would probably destroy the machine, and I'd need a new one so I could wash my son's jammies. Neighbors would call the fire department, sirens would blare, dogs would howl, and police would arrive. But what a glorious thought. Already I could hear the Hallelujah Chorus sounding as the gas ignited and the flames rose into the air. Before the police would lead me away in cuffs, and the department extinguished the blaze, I would raise my arms and dance around that majestic bonfire, for I had won. I had vanquished that dead mouse and its filth. I had faced bubonic plague and come out unscathed. I had rescued my family from death's grip, and my joy would not be contained. I would be replete!
In reality, I called my husband. We opted for a less theatrical approach. He disposed of the mouse, heroically fishing it out of the washer with a blue disposable cup while singing a new version of Toby Keith's famous refrain: Blue Solo cup/you scoop me up. He added a few cups of bleach to the water and let the load run. He even did the loads of laundry I had left sorted on the floor. It was, indeed, less dramatic than I imagined.