My buddy Stan and I are both watching television when my wife wanders into the living room with a strange look on her face.
“Something is making noise in the junk drawer,” she announces.
“Which junk drawer?” I ask because we have several and each one is like a tar pit, a place where many things fall into but few emerge.
“The one in the filing cabinet,” she says.
Neither of us is willing to get up.
“Well?” she says.
“How much noise,” Stan asks without taking his eyes off the television.
“It sounds like a mouse,” she says.
He nods his head in agreement then turns his gaze toward me. My wife is also staring at me.
Why is it my job to take care of such things?
We have close to a dozen outside cats who obviously do not believe that mice are their job and we have two inside cats who are utterly worthless. We also have one fully liberated wife who is just as capable of engaging in combat with a mouse as I. In addition, there is a buddy who drinks my beer, eats my food, who could for just once earn his keep.
But no, they look to me.
Even the cats, half asleep at my feet, squint expectantly in my direction.
So I get up and trudge into the home office and slide open the junk drawer. I rummage through it, half expecting a mouse to leap out.
As I return to the living room, she restates her initial question, “Well?”
“Well?” Stan echoes.
“I did not see nor hear a mouse,” I proclaim.
“Well, I definitely heard one,” she says.
“Maybe not,” Stan suggests.
We both look at him.
“There could be something in the junk drawer that doesn’t belong there,” he says, “and wants to get back to where it belongs.”
Stan gets like this. He is a master mechanic, a machine-whisperer, a man who shares an almost mystical relationship with inanimate objects and every once in a while his dream world collides with our reality.
“He could be onto something,” my wife says.
“Seriously?” I ask.
It is not so much a question as a protest – but it is a useless protest because whenever my wife and Stan get on the same track, my fate is sealed.
So I trudge into the home office and reopen the junk drawer. It is as the name suggests, full of junk. There are tools in there. There are kitchen utensils in there. There are office supplies in there. There are things in there whose name and purpose baffle me.
But it wouldn’t hurt to have a few less things in there.
So I return the tools to the shed. I put the kitchen utensils back in the kitchen and the office things back in the desk where they belong and by doing so, I hope to reveal whatever it is that is making noise.
As I work, my wife comes to look over my shoulder. When she spots a set of well used mouse traps, she says, “That’s gross! Put them where they belong.”
“And where would that be?”
She gives me an incredulous look. “Wherever they need to be set,” she says.
So I set traps. I put one under the sink in the kitchen, one between the desk and the filing cabinet and one in the hall closet. Then as I finally ease back onto the couch to enjoy the remainder of my movie and by now warm glass of beer…
Startled, she asks “What’s that?”
To which Stan replies, “It is the happy sound of something being where it belongs.”
Now it is my turn to glare at him because my wife is glaring at me. He can darn well dispose of the mouse. It is now his job – because I have decided that at my house the beer isn’t free.