I love all of God’s creatures. In theory. I don’t however, want to live with any of them in my apartment, particularly tiny animals that scurry or skitter or crawl. A large animal, if it somehow got into my apartment, would, at most, scare the hell out of you the first time you saw it. If I came home one day and there were an elk standing by the fridge, I’d freak for a minute, but then we would reach one of those uneasy ‘Wild Kingdom’ truces as I calmly walk around him and make a sandwich. Each of us keeping an eye on the other, but as long as I don’t threaten the elk, we could, I suppose, coexist until I lured the elk outside.
Which brings me to the mouse. They’re cute, mice. But they scare the shit out of me. Irrational, bone-shaking terror. First of all, they’re not content to just scare you the one time. After they scare you , they run away and can scare you again. Anywhere, anytime. Just because I saw him under the sink doesn’t mean I’m safe at my desk. Said mouse can simply scurry along the wall and show up at my feet as I’m writing this. And I know they’re really small, and I know they don’t attack people. But somehow I feel all it will take is one rogue mouse to leap from the floorboards to my throat and I’m a goner. All the other mice will see this from a crack in the plaster or under the microwave or inside an envelope (because they can freakishly shrink in size!) and then–it’s on. Forensics teams will spend days trying to match hundreds of tiny bite marks.
Now don’t give me that ‘they’re more afraid of you than you are of them’ crap, because in the animal kindgdom, they fight through the fear. Mr. Lion might be initially startled by Mr. Gazelle, but he finds a way to push past the fear and eat the gazelle. ‘They just came in to get out of the cold’. Great, nice to know I’m running a mission for rodents.
So one morning last winter, I dragged my ass to the bathroom for my morning ablutions, and as I’m peeing (a detail probably not necessary to the story), I glance in the direction of the shower and notice there’s something in the tub. And it moved. Now when I first wake up, I’m not very coherent, so I actually did that cartoon double-take where I literally shake my head and look again. When it moved again, this time trying to crawl up the side of the tub. Quickly flipping through my recollections of biology class and the Discovery Channel, I realized it was too big to be a roach, and too small to be a raccoon. Waking up a bit more now, I know that between roach and raccoon therei’s a lot of possibilites (is it a lemur?). When I finally realize t’s a mouse, I also realize I have no idea what to do with that information.
Do I make myself look really small or really big–no, that’s for bears. Do I try to kill it–get all alpha on its rodentine ass? Because then I have a dead mouse to deal with, and the ick factor goes up exponentially. Chase it around my studio for a while? Here’s what I decided, folks. I stepped back from the tub, and as I backed up, trying to look as little like…cheese as possible, I grabbed a towel and my toothbrush, and backed out of the bathroom. And then I shut the door. Understand what happened here. I made the conscious decision to CEDE an entire room to the mouse. I was apparently playing some inter-species game of Risk, and was trying to isolate the attacking mouse army, Not my proudest moment as a man.
A friend came by to toss the mouse outside, but that night I was still a little rattled. Thought about leaving a light on, but couldn’t remember if mice were maybe attracted to lights. But in the dark, I heard the skittering. Little evil mouse feet. I was sure I would wake up and see them lining the perimeter of my bed, all along the headboard like some outtake from ‘Willard.’ I grabbbed my cane and put it by my bed, apparently thinking that somehow I would be able to swat the oncoming horde and they would then worship me as their king. But my crowning touch came into play when I realized that there was no actual door separating the…mouse area from my ‘bedroom’, just a door frame. I fixed this by placing a pile of clothes from the hamper on the floor in the at the boundary between the ‘kitchen’ and the ‘bedroom’. I guess I thought, ‘Well, mice can come through the cracks in a wall, but they’ll never get past my inpenetrable barrier of fabric.
I haven’t seen any other mice since then, frankly because they understand who’s in charge here. This is my house, dammit!