I’m being pushed around by a mouse, and he’s pushing my buttons. It’s supposed to work the other way, isn’t it?
It all started last week. While operating the layout, I heard the unmistakable sound of a visitor somewhere in the drywall over Herbst Junction.
Scritch scratch. Nibble nibble. Pitter patter.
Mus Musculus. The common house mouse.
On Saturday I tore out several square feet of wallboard and pulled out even more insulation, and with it gallons of maple seeds and other souvenirs the little so-and-so had brought in.
After several hours of awkward bending I had sealed up all the spaces I could reach without ripping out the top foot of the entire wall, though I know that will have to be done eventually.
The layout fared OK. One worker from Red Earth Co-Op got sucked into the Shop-Vac, but he always looked kind of surly to me so I don’t think he’ll be missed.
Once I had everything cleaned up I set out some traps to check my work, hoping they’d sit undisturbed. Overnight one of them was tripped, licked clean of peanut butter, and left empty.
The game of Me and Mouse was afoot.
It pays to know your enemy, so I was glad he called:
“I’m beginning to feel unwelcome,” said the mouse. “Last month you clean the garage and move the bird seed into a Rubbermaid bin, and now you try to kick me out of the house. What gives?”
He sounded manly for a mouse.
“What gives?” I said. “I can’t have mice in my house. It’s untidy. It makes my wife edgy. It’s got me re-evaluating my worth as a man and my ability to provide a suitable home for my family. I am now of the class of people who have mice. You’ve touched off a real existential crisis, not to mention making me waste the better part of a Saturday.”
I could hear him nibbling, his whiskers brushing against the receiver.
“If my presence makes you uncomfortable, that’s your problem,” he said. “I’m just looking for a warm place to lay my head. But I don’t think it’s my untidiness that bothers you.”
“Oh no? What bothers me?”
“You’re jealous,” he said. “I take care of myself doing logical, no-nonsense things all day. No boss, no status reports, no ‘re-evaluating my worth.’ Just the real work of finding food and shelter. My life makes perfect sense. You’re jealous.”
In the information war, this mouse had me beat. I barely knew how he got in the house, he understood what makes me tick.
“You might be on to something,” I admitted. “But at least I’m not a parasite. The boss and status reports allow me to provide that warmth you’re after. And I worked hard finishing that basement. I was pretty proud of how it turned out.”
He inhaled deeply, let it out slow.
“It’s a crumbling world,” he sighed. “The work of your hands is not immune.”
A philosophical mouse with an apocalyptic worldview. What other kind would I get?
“So you pride yourself on contributing to the decay?” I asked.
“I’m a mouse. It’s why we’re here.”
I pictured him shrugging, if mice shrug.
“And that’s why you’re not getting in my house,” I said.
It was an empty threat. I have hours of work to do to properly rodent-proof the basement. But I can’t get to it this week.
Status reports are due.
“We’ll see.” he chuckled. “Do me a favor – next time use chunky peanut butter. I prefer chunky.”