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On trapping teenaged mice

It wasn’t a surprise when my husband announced he saw a mouse in our garage. It has been stinging-cold outside and you can’t blame it for seeking warmth, shelter, and the crumb bonanza we offer. I have conflicted feelings. Part of me salutes this mouse for choosing wisely, for braving the unknown just like Ponce de Leon. I’m proud to be his Florida. Another part of me wants it to go to the neighbor’s. Then there is my dark side.

I think the mouse should be trapped. His mortal coil should be shuffled right off.

Unfortunately, we know from a past mouse invasion that for every mouse you see, there are ten you don’t see. An exterminator shared this with us as he stood in our kitchen when we lived in Golden almost a decade ago. “Did you know…’ he whispered, perhaps conscious of dainty cupped pink ears listening from behind baseboards, ‘…mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime?” A dime. If a mouse can poke his head through a hole, his body will follow like a seeping greasy grey-brown fertile smoothie.

The mouse in the garage was independently verified by Ryley, who was at school when the mouse was first spotted and hadn’t been informed. I heard him shout. He came back into the house shuddering and demanding we trap it immediately. Of course we don’t plan to let them live out there, propagating and such. We discussed humane traps and effective traps. These aren’t always the same, unfortunately.

Not the actual mouse.

That same night, the doorbell rang. It was UPS. They left a large box. Last week, Hasbro contacted me and asked if they could send a toy or game to us. I said sure and selected one of the items listed in the PR pitch. We’d have some fun, I’d write a post sometime. I opened the box and pulled out Elefun & Friends Mouse Trap. The little kids gathered around to see. Mouse Trap! They wanted to play immediately. I told them no, they’d have to wait for the weekend when homework was done and the house was tidy.

An hour or so later, Ryley wandered in and saw the box on the piano. “Mouse Trap? Why did you get this?”

I told him it was because of the mouse in the garage. Pity, horror, confusion…every look crossed his face. “Mom? You can’t actually trap a mouse with this.”

“I can’t? It says Mouse Trap?” I pointed.

Ryley explained, carefully, as if he were talking to a small, sleepy child, how Mouse Trap is a game. It’s plastic, not suitable for catching actual mice! He told me all about traps made of wood and springs they sell at the grocery store—he’s seen them!—that we could use.

Suppressing my laughter was really, really difficult until I realized I was actually kind of insulted. Did he think I was that dense? Or, was he playing along? There was no hint he was joking and I gave him no hint I was joking, so there we stood squinting at each other. Lips tight. Eyebrows scrunched. Squinting. It was a showdown. I was the first to break.

“I know it’s not a real mousetrap,” I burst. But I thought to myself how I wish it was. Maybe…?

He grinned. He won.

If I’m ever confronted with the mouse or two dozen, and our eyes meet, I hope I don’t melt as readily. But I will and then they will all squeak squeak squeak and slap their little knees with their filthy little paws. I’ll inch my way into the house with a red plastic net the size of a teacup and a tiny orange boot held behind my back.

(This is not a review of Elefun & Friends Mouse Trap.)

2 comments to On trapping teenaged mice

  • Daria

    Gretchen, I love how you write and I could picture the entire scene with Ryley. I wish the game worked too. We have way too many holes in our brick. Not a single mouse last year and I thought the electronic devices were working. Nope! Back to the old fashioned way, but our mice are smart! Amazing how they can eat all the bait and never set it off. We have caught 2, does that mean we have 8 left? Hope I can have a sense of humor about it until they are all caught.

  • Haha! You’re so funny, Gretchen.

    Remarkably, we don’t have that many mice. There are many hard working and fat cats around here. We do, however, have moles that we kill by thumping them on the head with a big mallet when they pop out of the ground…

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