Mice and Me

When I was growing up, I never really encountered any of the cute little creatures, except for Topo Gigio on the Ed Sullivan show whom I absolutely adored and hoped would be on every show.  My first experience with real mice was in college.  As a psychology major, we had the usual class where we had experiments about positive reinforcement.  So a classmate and I had a little white mouse we were responsible for and it didn’t bother me a bit.  I assumed I was afraid-of mice free.

A few years later, I was living with my parents in historic Pullman.  All the houses were attached, and our next door neighbor was doing some remodeling.  That’s why their mice decided to move to our house.  My fiancé and I were talking late one night at the kitchen table, when I saw several of the critters scurry across the floor.  Some woman let out a shriek, and I pointed in the direction they went.  My fiancé bravely leaped out of his chair expecting a large intruder of some kind, but couldn’t find a thing.  He turned back towards me to ask what in the world I’d seen and started to smile and tried very hard to keep from laughing.  I couldn’t understand what was so funny until I realized I was looking down at my 6’2” husband-to-be.  I have absolutely no recollection of jumping up on my chair.  A few days later, he gave me a present:  a t-shirt with (you guessed it) a mouse on it.  I can imagine him at the shop – “show me what you have in mice, please.”

While we were married, visiting mice were attended to by my husband.  He was working nights at the time, so when I discovered mice were feasting on the dog biscuits I kept under the sink, I posted a huge note on the cabinet door with “BIG MOUSE!” and the dog went without biscuits until I was assured the critter was gone and it was once again safe to open the cabinet.

For the five years I’ve lived in this house, mice were not an issue thanks to Buster Brown, an English Spring Spaniel and an excellent hunting dog.  Buster Brown died this summer however and the 15 ½ years of mouse-free living I’ve enjoyed thanks to his instincts came to an end.  I found droppings under the sink and bought a spring trap, but didn’t catch anything.  When I mentioned it to my friend (who shall remain nameless in order to protect her innocence), she said to get sticky traps, and assured me they were the best.  I laid out two, but wasn’t having much luck putting them in the right places.  Then one morning as I was eating breakfast at the kitchen table, I saw a mouse skitter under the pantry cabinet and turn right at the fridge.  Some woman let out a shriek that would have awakened Buster Brown from the dead, but at least this time I did not find myself standing on the chair.

Now I need to move the traps to either side of the fridge.  The fridge and the mouse are between the traps and me, and I have absolutely no desire to meet him face to face in the next 30 seconds.  So I stomp across the floor to let him know not to come out until I’m done, and I move the traps to either side of the fridge.  With a huge sigh of relief, I leave for work, confident a deceased mouse will await me when I get home.  Unfortunately, when I check the traps that night from the safety of the laundry room, they are unoccupied.

Early the next morning, I reach into the kitchen from the safety of the dining room and turn on the light.  Holding on to the door frame, I very slowly (very slowly) inch my torso around the panty cabinet to check the trap.  I see it’s not square to the fridge, meaning a mouse has traversed that way, and pop back into the dining room.  Keeping my feet as close to the dining room as I can, I bend in a just a teensy bit more and see two back mouse legs.  In the very next instant, I mysteriously find myself in the living room (just like a Star Trek sight-to-sight transfer, but much faster).  After some pacing, and reminding myself I have nothing to fear from a dead mouse, I take a deep breath, and zip through the kitchen to the safety of the laundry room where I can put on my rubber gloves keeping my back to the trap and its contents.

One more deep breath and I slowly turn around to find not a dead mouse, but the back end of a struggling one!  (My friend neglected to mention this possibility when she sang the praises of sticky traps.)  At least this time there was no shriek, just a loud audible gasp.  Now what?  There’s no way I am going to pick up a 4×4 inch square with a live mouse on it.  What I need is a 10 foot pole.   Shovel is the first thing that pops into my mind, but the garden tools are out in the shed and the snow drifts are three feet high.  Shovel, snow – snow shovel in the garage!  Too big.  Ah Ha!  The ice chopper!  Perfect!  I get the ice chopper and ready the garbage can in the garage, so I can do this in one fluid motion.

I hold on to the ice chopper as far back on the end of the handle as I can and still have control, slowly squat and work the blade under the trap.  So far so good.  Keeping my eye on the blade, the trap, and the backside of the mouse, I slowly and carefully back up to get to the laundry room, and then the garage and the garbage can.  Just as I’m about to turn and pivot the ice chopper towards the garage door, the little mouse turns and pitifully looks at me.  (My friend never mentioned this possibility either.)  At that moment, my soft heart vows to never again set out a sticky trap.  My soft heart also said “excuse me” later that morning when I bumped the garbage can getting out the power shovel to clear the driveway.

I can’t wait to get to heaven and see the video of this adventure.  I’m sure it’s going viral up there in the meantime.  By the way, just a few days earlier, I had mentioned to God I needed some fun in my life – be careful what you mention to Him in passing!

Postscript:  I want to praise and thank my heavenly Father, for when the title “Mice and Me” first popped into my head, my first thought was “I can’t write something light-hearted!” He proved me wrong, and once again answered my prayer for I had fun writing this piece!