Thursday, April 1, 2010

Of Mice and Men

Another one bit the dust, but not before he had chewed his way through a package of ramen noodles and littered my pantry shelf with shredded plastic and nasty brown pellets. That was the night before last. But even after annihilating that one furry intruder, I could still hear the sounds of scratching and skittering behind the drywall as I lay in bed last night, keeping me awake into the wee hours. Mice in the attic. This is something new. And not at all welcome.

This old farmhouse has had a record winter for mice. It's not unusual for one or two find their way into our warm and well-stocked pantry during the coldest months. But this year I lost count at nine. For most of my life, I'd never had a terrible aversion to mice. I never wanted one as a pet, but I didn't hate them either. But now that we've disposed of the umpteenth squashed mouse of the year, I am convinced that the only good mouse is a dead one.

Our particular mice have been harder to catch than most. They are sly. At first they led us to believe that peanut butter was the sure-fire bait to lure them in. But no. After days of wreaking havoc in my cupboards with nary a nibble on the peanut buttery traps, we discovered that these unique rodents have international taste: sushi nori, pepperoni, ramen, chow mein.

But we're on to their little games. We now catch mice by offering them seaweed and Slim Jims and Asian pasta. I kid you not.

I liked Ratatouille as much as anyone, but regardless of their gourmet taste, these creatures must die. Apologies to the squeamish, but really they must. Those "humane" mouse traps are for sentimental sissies who watch too many cartoons. Sorry kiddies. Mickey is NOT your friend.

Mice. They live in darkness. They sneak around behind closed doors. They carry disease. They trespass. They steal. They destroy. They breed. Apart from their size, what makes them any better than rats? I'd rather have spiders. At least spiders don't eat my chow mein noodles.

Why, oh, why have all the children's stories—even the great ones—portrayed mice as the dear little friends of humanity? Please tell me if you know. Aesop seemed to be fond of them. Beatrix Potter put them to diligent work saving the poor tailor of Gloucester. C.S. Lewis portrayed Reepicheep as a brave and noble beast.  And Walt Disney launched mousehood to new heights of fame and glory. What did these people know that I don't?

As far as I can tell, the only trait that has led us to exonerate these beady-eyed little burglars is that they are cute. Small and furry and cute. That's it. If I'm right, then here's the obvious, though disturbing, lesson to draw from this phenomenon: If you are cute you can get away with just about anything, and people will still adore you. Now I ask you, is this a lesson we want to teach our children?

I submit that we need to protect our young people from harmful messages such as this by censoring and eliminating all stories and movies that portray mice as lovable and dignified. Burn your copy of Stuart Little. Pitch those Mickey ears right into the rubbish. I will be picketing with my "Cuteness Does Not Equal Innocence" sign downtown this evening. Please join me. And make sure you write to your senators, demanding that more federal funding be directed toward the much-needed research and development phase of building a better mousetrap. Mice are a menace and a threat to traditional morality and national security. Do your part to spread the word.

Thank you. (And Happy April Fool's Day.)


Erika said...

HAHA! Oh Man, that was us in Chattanooga, we had mice that learned how to lick the peanut butter off the trap without setting it off! Amazing. Our cat tried oh so hard, but she doesn't have claws so...we had traps all over the place. But none had as great a taste as yours, maybe you should set up a kitchen like in Ratatouie and see what they make you for dinner. Don't worry, they wash their hands...Disney showed me so.

Bobbinoggin said...

ugh. I hate mice too. One summer as a girl scout counselor, we had to sleep with the girls in cots in the barn. excess counselors slept in cots in the loft, and two counselors along with the campers, slept in cots on the main floor.

We had to check our sleeping bags every night to make sure mice weren't nesting there. I slept with my head inside my sleeping bag, because I was so afraid one would crawl up my bed and try to get in my hair. This was a reasonable fear, because we could hear them scurry across the floor at night.

But these were uneducated mice. Country mice from Central Idaho. We began catching them on traps with peanut butter, as you initially tried. Then we got lazy about traipsing off to the kitchen for peanut butter. We began using tooth paste. That worked too. Then... we stopped putting anything on the traps. And that worked. These were definitely silly mice.

But any mouse, is worthy of being loathed and eradicated.

Carissalayla said...

oh brave Hannah, I once (luckily only once) had a mouse in my Manhattan apartment, mice and NYC go hand in hand but after seeing one mouse I stayed in a hotel until it was caught and promptly started looking for new places to live! Once we got our dog we never heard or saw traces of a mouse ever again, oddly our chihuahua does resemble a large rat! xo Carissa

The Lewins said...

I am totally with you in not understanding the whole 'mice are heroes' thing- especially with disney- I mean besides Mickey, you have the Rescuers, the mice in Cinderella, Ratatouille, etc.... There was that sewer movie called 'flushed away' about mice, and then the very successful American Tale duo. I think maybe mice are a useful character for portraying life from a different point of view????

At any rate- go for the poison. I know they can die in the walls, but it is the only method we have found that gets rid of them for good.

Brittany Martin said...

Since we've had rats in our house, mice have lost a bit of their terror for me. However, the nice man at the hardware store gave us some lovely poison that dessicates (or dries out) their body after they die--hence--no smell!

Mike and Kathryn Church said...

uggh!! I'm deathly afraid of mice and completely sympathize as we dealt with them this winter too!

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