There's very little I remember about 2005 without the coaching of photos. I wasn't a big drinker, and I didn't do drugs — it was just a bummer of a year, and my brain was like, "Meh. Let's reserve that space for better stuff."
I was having a horrible, extended flare-up of chronic pain and fatigue from what was believed at the time to be fibromyalgia (I have since been diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome); that flare-up was largely attributed to stress and depression; and the stress and depression were largely attributed to a failing, impetuous marriage that would end in an amicable yet exasperating separation that December.
Most of my unaided memories from that year are seconds-long flashes of moments that range from very important (the decision to divorce) to very unimportant (when my friend brought her cute yorkie puppy to my apartment on Halloween), and most of my experiences from that year either didn't form memories or did and have subsequently been suppressed or forgotten. And I'm OK with that.
There's one incident from 2005, however, that I remember as if it were a movie I watch every time it's on TNT.
We had been living in our East 90th Street apartment for over two years when we started noticing mouse droppings. Personally, I'd be willing to live in peace with a wall-dwelling mouse or two if they weren't so rude about pooping on my stuff — especially kitchen stuff. I remember the first place I noticed a little mouse turd was on our cutting board. Not cool, mice.
Max, my dog, had also noticed the presence of mice. Only five years old at the time, he had lots of energy and was very excitable, launching into a sprint if he noticed a mouse skitter by in his peripheral vision. Actually, it was more like he'd launch into a cartoon-like running-in-place move, his short legs not really getting him anywhere near the fleeing mice.
It was hilarious to me that Max was even interested in the mice. I'd always thought pursuing mice was cat territory — that dogs just lived in harmony with their rodent brethren. Max, however, couldn't resist running after the tiny, furry blurs that occasionally dared to dart by. And when he did, it was amusing, because I knew his nonathletic build and slow reflexes meant I'd never have to worry about him actually catching one.
I was wrong, of course.
I was sitting on the couch with Max one day when we both noticed a mouse run through the kitchen area. As my head whipped to the left to try to catch a glimpse of the little gray intruder, Max dove from the couch in what is, to this day, the most graceful moment of his life. And as he hit the ground, the mouse disappeared — not back into the wall, but into Max's mouth.
I sprung off the couch — less gracefully than Max did, I should note — as soon as I realized that Max had caught the mouse. I didn't think it was possible, so I didn't know what I was supposed to do if it happened. So I panicked.
"Max, no!" I shouted it. He was standing there, frozen, appearing just as surprised as I was that he'd caught it, and just as confused about what to do next. The mouse was tiny, but so is Max's mouth, and I could tell that it was still alive inside his jaws.
"Drop it!" I sternly commanded as I thought about what might come out of Max's mouth if he did, in fact, drop it. Would it just be wet with dog saliva and run away? Was it suffocating in a cave of doggie breath? Max hadn't chewed, so I felt confident and relieved that I wouldn't have to deal with masticated mouse if I could get him to give it up. But I wanted it out of his mouth ASAP — I had no idea what kind of mouse diseases were being transferred to my dog in these few seconds.
I went over to Max and, having had my commands ignored, tried to gently yet firmly open his mouth. He resisted, swinging his head a little and growling, incredulous that I'd deny him this triumphant moment. And then it happened.
It was the most dramatic swallow in the history of dogs swallowing. The mouse, whole and presumably still alive, was now passing through Max's esophagus and making its way to his stomach.
"NO!" I wailed. All of the diseases I was worried Max would get from holding a mouse in his mouth were now getting an even more direct path to his organs. And what if the mouse doesn't die quickly and tries to bite and scratch in there?!
It was a Saturday, and Max's vet didn't have weekend hours, so I called my mother, of course.
"Max swallowed a mouse whole!" I shrieked into the phone.
"OK, OK," my mother said calmly. "He might throw it up, or it might pass right through him. Just keep an eye on him for anything strange."
For the rest of the day, I kept Max by my side, terrified that the mouse would chew through his abdomen and burst out like an alien, or cause him to die of insta-plague.
The next morning, when my then-husband, who had been at work during this incident, and I brought Max downstairs for his walk, he took only a few steps before getting into pooping posture. I readied a plastic bag.
And there, emerging from Max's little butthole, was the still fully intact mouse, now dead and encased in a thin layer of feces.
The turd-dropper had become the turd.
"Whoa, look!" my ex said, pointing at the poo-covered mouse corpse. And then I handed him the plastic bag because I didn't want to pick up said poo-covered mouse corpse.
What I felt was some kind of combination of disgust, wonderment, and relief. There's probably a German word for it. The mouse had passed right through Max, dying sometime between entering and exiting, and leaving Max no worse for the wear.
In fact, Max is about to turn 15, so I'm pretty sure swallowing that mouse whole has made him immortal.
Got a gross story? Email us at email@example.com with the subject line "Gross-Out Fridays."