Of Mice And Men – Part One

At 2 AM this morning, unable to sleep, I was sitting in the recliner in my Dad’s living room. The darkened room was illuminated only by the flickering TV. Suddenly, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. A bold mouse! mouseHe came around the corner from the kitchen and crawled along the baseboard into the living room. A foot into the living room, the mouse sensed it wasn’t alone. It stopped, looked up at me, reversed direction, and scurried back into the kitchen.

Dad lives out in the country and he gets at least one mouse in the house every year, usually when the milder autumn temperatures begin to transition to winter’s chill. He is convinced they get in through the door between the foyer and the attached garage and he’s always reminding me to close the door, but it’s not always that easy. For instance, yesterday we went shopping for a new microwave, and the door had to remain open as we carried the box from the garage to the kitchen. Most likely, that’s when the furry little critter got in. I can’t say I blame him. It’s 35 degrees out and snowing. I’d be trying to get warm, too.

I really debated whether or not to tell Dad. I’m not a squeamish person but I have to admit I had visions of going to bed and finding that mouse snuggled up against me in the morning. I thought about being bitten and having to endure a regimen of rabies shots. In the end, I decided Dad had to know, so this morning I broke the news:

“Hey Dad, you’ve got a mouse,” I announced as I came downstairs from the bedroom.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “One time your Mother thought she saw a mouse and it turned out to be the reflection from a car driving by.”

“I’m sure.”

“OK, I’ll set up a trap.”

That really upset me, because I try to follow Buddhist philosophy, which requires taking a vow never to kill. I struggle with that because I find it impossible to refrain from swatting a mosquito, and I believe that spiders in the house have signed their own death warrant, but a cute little furry mouse is quite another thing. When I discovered I had a mouse in my house in North Carolina, I purchased a device that emitted a high pitched noise that drove rodents out of the house, rather than killing them.

“Do you have to? He doesn’t eat much,” I pleaded. But I knew it had to be done, so in an attempt to assuage my guilt I asked Dad to spare the mouse’s life if he was caught alive.

“Sure,” he agreed. “We’ll throw him outside and he’ll freeze to death.”

“No he won’t. Mice live outdoors, for heaven’s sake, they’re used to the cold.”

Dad headed out to the garage to find his mousetraps. As he opened the door I pleaded: “Run little guy, scoot out through the door while you can still save yourself!”

So now the trap is set, with a piece of cheese for bait. It’s cheese I bought yesterday. I guess that makes me an accessory to murder – sort of like buying the bullets for the gun.

Dad set up the mousetrap on the kitchen counter, behind the coffee maker.

“That’s where we’ll catch him; he’s gonna climb up there to look for food. But he won’t come out again until the middle of the night when the house is silent.”

Me, I’m hoping the mouse heard my plea and headed for the hills. Or that he’s an enlightened mouse who can steal the bait from the trap without being harmed. Or that he gets caught by his tail and Dad has to spare his life. Maybe I should just stay up all night and try to shoo him out of the house when he comes out of hiding. My Dad says I’m crazy. To be continued….

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