Saturday, April 15, 2017

We Feed Our Houseguests Well

Tony and I are having a lovely, mid-afternoon, kitchen conversation. He is reclined on the comfy, green polka-dot bench; I am standing behind the counter. Domestic tranquility is interrupted onlywhen Tony sees a flash of movement in the corner of his eye.

He is incredulous when he announces, "There's a mouse in our house!"

I peek around the cupboard and sure enough, Ratatouille is a cute baby gray mouse, and he is oblivious to our deep offense. So unaware, that I move closer and see he is giving himself a sponge bath and quite content. Tony and I follow him as he scampers to the back of a cupboard and makes a herculean attempt to lift himself between the gap and the wall.

"Ah, he was so cute."

Tony was moved by his cuteness too, because he asks, "But we can't have mice in the house, right?"

"Right. There's hanta virus and all the other unsanitary things that come with rodents who move in and make themselves right at home."

"I'll get the mousetraps."

Mice are nothing new in our home. We live next to a hillside that hosts a fox, cougars, skunks, deer, and once there was even a moose in the cul-de-sac. The fox terrorized the bees, the cougars were always a potential threat to safety; skunks are well--smelly; deer eat every bit of viable landscaping, and moose can charge, maim, and kill. We once found a baby raccoon, its mother trapped and carried away by neighbors who'd had enough. My daughter pleaded to keep the creature, but after a few youtube videos, we slapped an ad in an online classified newspaper, and that raccoon had three offers in ten minutes.

So a little ol mouse? Well, that mouse probably has a mother, a father, and possibly a slew of siblings. Who knows what territory they have eminent-domain claimed already. They've built houses, apartment buildings and are trying to incorporate into a city.

Tony loads the mouse traps with peanut butter. It's always worked well before, and he's counting on it again. He checks the traps the next day-both of them. Both of them are licked clean of peanut butter.

"Okay, I'll pull out the new traps. They're a little better. Guaranteed." He tosses away the old, unreliable traps and loads the new ones. Later that afternoon, he checks the traps again with some hearty confidence, "I bet we have a mouse." I watch him from a distance as he moves closer, bends deeper to see into the dark corner under the shelf. "What?" he calls out.

He emerges from the pantry with a licked-clean trap. He checks the other trap next to the gap in the cupboard ready to proclaim victory. "It licked this one clean too!" He is even more incredulous than when he first saw the baby mouse.

Now, when Tony is outsmarted, or perplexed, he walks and thinks and speaks. This walk-about, he smiles and laughs as he walks because the mouse has thrown the gauntlet, and in the end, Tony never loses. He even eventually became the reigning pickleball champion, the tennis champion, the backgammon champ--these mice don't know what they're up against. He outplays, outsmarts, outlasts and personally, I give in. The mice will too.