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Last week, in a bid to let my Home Defenders customers get to know me better, I made a list of modern innovations an old-fashioned guy like me never wants to see. Here’s more:

>> Corporate sponsored government —  

DMV employee: Don’t raise your voice, sir, it’s not my fault the system overbooked your driving appointment.

Citizen: But I need my driver’s license today!

DMV employee (sarcastically): Look, sir, your can always take your complaint to the President.

Citizen (frustrated): Sure—as if a peon like me could get ahold of the President of the United States of!

 Actually, there would likely be no difference whatsoever between corporate government and the bureaucratic kind we have now, so innovate away.

>>N.W.F.L. — (National Women’s Football League) Call me sexist if you want, but I’m not interested in watching women banging heads. Unless it’s that lingerie league, which leads me to the last innovation I never want to see … 

>>Mens’ Lingerie League — Please, in the name of all that is holy, can’t we all come to our senses and just say no. Thank you in advance.

>>Robo-Cat Mouse Terminator — Sure, it sounds cool—I could picture one with Bengal tiger stripes and razor-sharp titanium teeth—but wouldn’t you rather see a smiling Home Defender at your door, flashlight in hand, ready to find all the tiny openings that allow mice to enter your home? Sure, that sounds old-fashioned, but it’s time-tested and you don’t have to drag your mechanical mouse catcher back to the store and argue with some tech guy about how the Robo-Cat’s battery dies after twenty minutes. 

We bug guys may just be flesh and blood, but we run on the best battery of all: The exhilarating thrill of the chase.

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Last year I wrote down some signs that I’m getting old. A year later, surprise, surprise, l’m older still. Here’s more signs (gulp) I’m getting old:

>>  I often find myself saying, “That was before you were born” … to grown adults!

>>  9:30 p.m. seems like a perfectly sensible bedtime … on Saturday night.

>>  I drink three beers and awaken the next morning with a pounding headache and think, “Why did I drink so much?”

>>  I stretch before I exercise so I won’t pull a muscle … and I pull a muscle.

>>  I find myself saying “mind over matter” less and less. Matter sure is one tough cookie to beat.

Hey mountain homeowners, do you know what never gets old? For us Home Defenders, ridding mountain cabins of pests never, ever gets old. Call us and our crack team of youngsters—and our young-at-heart-owner—will give you a free evaluation. Call today!

>> I still turn to the Yellow Pages for goods and services.

>>  I say, “Come on now, you’re not old!” to forty-year olds. And I mean it.

>>  I’ve come to realize that I’m no longer an oldish young guy, but rather a youngish old guy. 

>>  I was offered a senior discount for the first time ever this spring, and to make matters worse, I happily took it.

>>  When I hear someone in their twenties lament, “OMG, I’m so old” … I feel just a little bit younger.

>>  I just love that kids in their twenties dye their hair silver.

>>  I call adults in their twenties “kids”. 

>>  I don’t object any more when pretty young women call me “sir”. I’m over that now. At least they’re being polite.

>> My only defense in the face of getting older is to eat right, exercise, and, when the going gets really tough, do like my grandparents and parents  and make a big joke about it! 

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“Could I have misinterpreted the pretty woman’s words?” I thought. “Am I really a fool, like Nicole says?”

I walked into the dry cleaners one hot afternoon last week and dropped off my work shirts for cleaning and pressing. The woman behind the counter remarked, “You look hot in that long sleeve shirt.”

“No,” I said. “It’s made for summer weather. I’m cool as a cucumber.”

When I got back to the office, I told Nicole and Alejandra my story. But they had a totally different spin on what happened.

“She said you looked hot?” Alejandra said, eyes wide open.

“Dude,” Nicole said, laughing. “We women don’t say a guy is ‘hot’ unless we mean business. You’ve got bugs on the brain—you should have sealed the deal, fool!”

“What deal?” I asked. “The woman behind the counter was clearly referring to my temperature, not my desirability as a mate. I was there and I know. Case closed!”

Hey reader, you know what’s really hot? The temperature outside. And it’s driving bugs and rodents into homes. Personally, I’ve never seen a bug guy I’d describe as ‘hot’ but I’m not a woman and I’ll let them decide. But if a rat jumps out of your toilet, we’re the guys to call. Hot or not!

You know, reader, as I relived the events of that sultry afternoon, I wondered if I’d gotten it all wrong. My mind wandered back … to the woman’s low cut summer blouse … that bead of sweat on her delicate décolleté … the playful twirl of a brunette curl … her come hither look. In my obsessive quest to rid homes of bugs, had I misread it all?

Nah. Be sure to check back next week when I teach you to make ant bait from ingredients in your very own kitchen. Toodle-oo!

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Last week I imagined mountain animals as described in their high school yearbook. This week we’re back to Animal High again.

Mouse — “Stop! In the name of love.”

Never, ever goes to biology class … usually seen in the school psychologist’s office discussing her fear of biologists … attends anti-vivisection rallies … carries Buddhist and Hindu leaflets … future political activist.

Bobcat — “If you love something, set it free … then chase it down and eat it!” 

His fur is sweatshirt gray … “Property of Mother Nature Athletic Dept” … excels at running, jumping, and tree climbing … marks his territory in the principal’s office … spends a lot of time in detention.

Raccoon — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses … and I’ll make ‘em laugh!”

He’s the class clown in night class … put a whoopee cushion under Sister Mary Nicole’s seat … set off a stink bomb in Miss Rodarte’s Spanish class … has a restraining order to stay 50 feet away from all fire extinguishers … put itching powder in Bobcat’s gym shorts … never knows when to quit.

Black Widow Spider — “Alone again, naturally.”

She was Goth before Goth was even a thing … spent a week in detention hall for eating a male who tried to mate with her … ate all the males in there too … “OMG, you guys, Halloween is like so lame!” … voted most likely to never get married.

Tree Squirrel — “Gimme, gimme some loving!”

Happily accepts peanuts and sunflower seeds from mountain homeowners …  “Shh, don’t tell anyone I’m just a rat with a big, fluffy tail” … stores nuts for the winter … “Hey Raccoon, you keep your thievin’ paws off my nuts or you’ll rue the day you were born!” … last seen getting run over by a Porsche.

Uh-oh, I accidentally winked at Black Widow. “Sorry ma’am, I have Eye Twitch Syndrome, I swear … oh noooooooooooo!”

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I have a high school reunion in August, and I was flipping through my Senior yearbook, thinking of the old gang, when I wondered: “How would a yearbook describe mountain animals?” Here’s my guess:

Flying Squirrel — “I wanna rock and roll all night … and doze off every day.” 

Glides like a butterfly, floats from a tree … loves truffles, nuts, and seeds … hangs out in attics and wall voids … looks like a cute stuffed animal … voted most likely to get eaten by a Great Horned Owl.

Robin — “My boyfriend’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble.” 

Fights his own reflection in car side mirrors … not the brightest bird on the wire … “You checking out my chick, tough guy?” … chirps with a chipped beak … never been to any class ever.

Bear — “Bears who need bears are the luckiest bears … as long as they stay out of my territory!”  

He wears a cruelty-free fur coat … sleeps all study hall, and all winter …  could climb a tree at two months old … has a real sweet fang … president of FBA club (Future Beekeepers of America)

Fox — “Live fast, die young, leave a beautiful stuffed corpse.”

She has beauty and brains … “the sum of a lake shore circumference equals the sum of the square of the adjacent sides” … a real territorial prima donna … “Watch it, vixen, keep your paws off my mate or I’ll scratch up that pretty face!” …  digs mice … future model/astronaut.

Bluebird — “Come fly with me.”

He’s a real pretty boy, but his mate is just plain butt ugly … private French lessons in the janitor’s closet with Miss Bardot … blue feather suit from Savile Row … champagne brunch with Miss Isamar in the teacher’s lounge … way too cool to go to class.

You know, folks, I have a feeling that my class reunion will be boring by contrast.

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I was standing at the door of his vacation cabin, taking the heat. 

“Mike, your worker should have seen those mouse droppings on my bed and called me!” my irate customer insisted, his face red with indignation. “My wife took one look at that mouse poop and yelled, ‘We’re heading back home now, Bob!’ I practically had to get down on my hands and knees and beg her to stay.” 

We had sealed his home against rodents three months ago, and had come back every month to follow up. Then they came up and his wife saw those droppings and blew a gasket. Had my tech missed that mouse poop?

On one hand, he might have, because vacation cabins are dark and even a skilled tech with a flashlight can miss a few tiny droppings.

On the other hand, there may not have been droppings a month ago because every evening platoons of hungry mice probe the foundations of mountain cabins, looking for a small entry hole. Even if they can’t find one, they’ll put their fuzzy noses to the grindstone and chew through seemingly impenetrable walls. Weeks later a home can explode with mice.

I didn’t bother trying to explain any of that to my customer. Mouse control isn’t a murder investigation where timelines and theories are important. Pest management is the art of dealing with the reality right in front of us—now. And the reality was that determined mice had slipped through our first line of defense when nobody was home. But they don’t beat us a second time.

I apologized to my customer and scheduled a crew to get the critters out of his cabin ASAP. He had our Home Defenders guarantee and that’s all that really mattered.

Keeping the wife happy was now the reality right in front of me.

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“Good evening, America! This is reporter Sparky Jones, live at 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and I’m thrilled to say that America just grabbed the gold in the newly added sport of pest management!”

“Competition was fierce early on, but U.S. team captain Gilberto Rios executed a superb ‘rat trap toss’ followed up with a rare triple axel ‘attic ladder ascent’. And when team compadre Alfredo Moreno completed the grueling ‘State of California paperwork marathon’ in record time, the fat lady sang her swan song for the badly outplayed ‘bug juice sprayers’ from Team Russia.”

“And that gorgeous fat lady kept on crooning in the ‘crawl space race’ as Ricardo Garcia fumed the competition by nimbly wriggling under a floor beam in a show of dexterity that would make a Mongolian acrobat turn green with envy. Take that, Mongolia!”

“Unfortunately, the manager of Team Russia lodged a complaint, claiming the maneuver was illegal. But the judges ruled in America’s favor as the crowd serenaded the disgraced honcho with jeers, catcalls, and even a few well-deserved obscene gestures. Sayonara, comrade sourpuss!”

“In the final event, the grueling ‘termite report typing joust’, Alejandra ‘Chata’ Etrador delivered a karate chop keystroke to all rivals with her smoothly executed ‘control + alt + delete’ followed by a sneak attack ‘caps lock’ … as the crowd chanted ‘best Olympics ever!’”

“My sources tell me this was the most viewed event in television history, beating out royal weddings and royal funerals by a long shot. Congratulations to the geniuses at the Olympic Committee for adding pest management as an Olympic sport! This is Sparky Jones, signing off.”

So Mr. Bach, as president of the Olympic Committee, you’ll go down in history if you take my suggestion to add pest management as an Olympic sport.Thank you for reading my letter.

Very truly yours, Mike Nolan, Home Defenders Pest Management. 

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“Tell your mom,” I said dryly, “that I put saltpeter in the worker’s enchiladas to keep them focused on work.”

Saltpeter isn’t a subject that comes up often in a pest control office, but I was taking a break from working on payroll, flipping through my old copy of National Lampoon’s High School Yearbook Parody when I saw a photo of a lunchroom worker, shovel in hand, standing next to a 55 gallon drum marked “saltpeter”. That’ll put a lid on those randy teens!

My secretaries hadn’t heard of the alleged wonder drug, and they laughed as I told them about this naturally-occurring mineral’s reputation for thwarting the male libido. Nicole, still chuckling, texted her mom, “Have U heard of saltpeter?” 

Her mom texted back: “Why—are U going to use it on your boyfriend?” Oh, so mom’s a wit, huh? 

That’s the moment I told Nicole to text her my quip about spiking the worker’s enchiladas to keep their minds off all those pretty mountain women dressed in summer clothes. Her mom texted right back, “The guys may be working better—but what on earth are they working for?” 

Whoa, that required a serious comeback. The wheels in my head started turning.

Back to the subject of naturally-occurring mineral compounds, we use a variety of them to fight pests. They’re super safe and especially effective against termites. If you need our professional expertise, call us for a free evaluation. Here at Home Defenders, we may joke about saltpeter, but we take termites seriously.

So, what was my comeback to mom’s comeback? Well, I thought and thought and tried to come up with a zinger, but some potent force kept blocking my wisecracking powers. I drew a blank. What on earth was wrong with me? I swear this never happens.

Ah man—I gotta stop eating those darn enchiladas!

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Look out, everyone! They’ve amassed an army from mysterious tunnels of terror and they’re coming to attack our world! They’re on the march, antenna twitching, mandibles gnashing, stomachs growling. Will the ravenous beasts target your home? Only the summer days ahead will tell.

I just got a call from a reader. “Our pine trees have been attacked by bark beetles. We just replaced our siding, and ever since then our beautiful green trees have been dying right before our eyes.”

I drove to his home and sure enough, before me was a dead sea of brown pine trees. What a heartbreaking sight! He said, “Why my pine trees? At least I still have my beautiful old oaks.” 

I said, “I’m sorry sir, I can’t tell you why the beetles targeted your pine trees, but it wasn’t related to your siding.”

Like many pest professionals, I’ve met quite a few customers who’ve pleaded, “Hey, Mr. Pest Pro, I’ve never had ants before—why are they in my sugar bowl now?”

“You have ants now because you live in a dynamic, ever-changing forest.” I say. “But don’t worry, I’ll get rid of the critters.”

Unfortunately, a few dishonest bug guys exploit people’s deep need to know why. These guys will make up a scary story, gain the customer’s confidence, then charge for a costly treatment homeowners don’t need. Let the buyer beware!

When you see pests, call us Home Defenders and we’ll thoroughly check your home for the real causes of the infestation, such as tree limbs touching eaves, dirt piled against siding, or a mass of pine needles on your roof. We’ll rid of your home of pests and you’ll be free to enjoy more satisfying summer pastimes, like sitting under an old oak as the sunlight shimmers through the leaves.

And that’s something we all do need.

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Well, I went out for a ground squirrel estimate at a lavender farm in Big Bear last week, and ended up getting accused of a serious crime. It was just another day in the fascinating world of pest management.

I have zero experience in crop pest management and I wouldn’t have driven out there had I known. But a pest guy never knows what lies at the end of the dusty trail.

“Lavender is a relative of sage and grows well in the mountains,” the rancher told me. 

“I learned something today,” I said. “But at Home Defenders, we only service homes and yards. You need to call a company that specializes in this. Good luck with your crop.”

Backing out of his driveway, I noticed an elderly man riding a bicycle down the main road. I waited, but he stopped and waved me on. I backed out, then drove away with him behind me. 

Seconds later, a woman driving towards me put her head out of the car window and yelled, “You just hit that man on the bike! You weren’t looking back—you hit him and just drove off!” I glanced back at the bicyclist and was shocked to see him on the ground. My heart starting racing.

The woman and I rushed back to the cyclist. “Did he run you over?” she asked. “No, I just lost my balance and fell,” he said. “I’m fine.”

“Well, don’t I look foolish,” the woman said. I breathed a giant sigh of relief, and was in no mood to confront my accuser. “I’m just glad no one got hurt.” I said, and headed on to my next job, my heart still racing.

There’s no pest lesson today. I just want to share how bizarre life can get as a pest management professional.

Regardless, I’ll take bizarre over a desk job any day.