Sunday, November 27, 2011

Re-run Sunday: Of mice and mice

I saw fresh mice evidence in the attic the other day. That means I might have to re-deploy the ol' TomCat 2000. Either way, it's a good excuse to redeploy this post from August 2009.

The hardware store exterminator showed me an array of medieval killing devices. I could poison the little beasties. I could lure to them to glue traps where they’d be frozen in place until their tiny hearts burst, or I could sever their spines with one frantic blast of sprung steel.

“Have you got any thing that can maybe sedate them first or, better still, reason with them and convince them to just leave our home of their own free will?”

See, we have mice.

He looked at me like he knew he was dealing with a bleeding heart liberal. I looked at him like he had an uncanny perception for a grown man who still wears a “Burt” name tag on his little blue vest.

“A little squeamish, are you?” he asked.

I suppose I could have told him I oppose any sort of animal cruelty, the unfairly applied death penalty, rude behavior at town hall meetings and those garish posters that make Barack Obama look like The Joker.

Instead, I just said, “Yup.”

“You seem like a TomCat 2000 man to me,” he said.

I couldn’t tell if he’d just insulted me or not, but I liked the sound of it.

Maybe I am a TomCat 2000 man!

The TomCat 2000 is a no-kill mouse trap that works by gravity. The mice, lured by aromatic peanut butter dabs in the darkened end of the four-inch tunnel trap, march in through a door that’s cunningly rigged to close shut when the mouse’s weight shift triggers the door.

The mice trap themselves.

Somebody’s built a better mousetrap!

What appeals to the samurai in me is that we’re only catching stupid mice. The smart ones sense menace and escape to resume the grand battle of wits.

Hawkeye and Trapper John belittled him for it, but the TomCat 2000’s similar to the rat trap Major Frank Burns developed when 4077th was in the midst of their own infestation (mark your calendars: Larry Linville’s birthday is September 29!).

It’s given my life a purpose. Without the TomCat 2000, I suppose I’d have to find something else productive to do with my waking hours, like maybe, gadzooks, find a job.

Just this morning, I caught and released my eighth mouse. Each release ceremony has enlivened the breakfast hour.

I assemble the family and give a little speech explaining to the mouse that we’re doing this for its own good. The woods will offer many more recreational opportunities for mice, not to mention a healthier diet -- they are natural herbivores -- than the nutritionally desolate Pop Tarts, Lucky Charms and other crap we feed our children.

Then I pull open the door. You see the whiskered nose first. The mouse seems terrified and slick with sweat. This saddens me. I’m trying to invent a tiny air conditioning unit and maybe set the iPod to something soothing to ease the incarceration.

As it scampers away, I say a small prayer that it will thrive and bother us no more.

I don’t warn it about the numerous hawks, snakes and other natural predators that abound in the woods. No sense scaring it any more than I’ve already done and, hey, those creatures have to eat, too. Circle of life, baby.

Then I announce the tally to the family I’m charged to protect.

“Well, that’s number eight,” I said this morning.

“How do you know that?” asked my wife, ever the skeptic. “That might be the same mouse over and over again. It sure looks exactly mice one through seven. Perhaps you should begin to brand the the ones you catch before freeing them.”

She, of course, was needling me, as is her matrimonial wont. But she has a point.

Maybe I should brand them. I could set up a little pen, wrangle the rascals and put the CR brand on their hind quarters.

Then once I got a sufficient herd I could run a drive like the way I’ve seen them do in all the great cowboy movies I’ve loved since I was boy. I could take them across the Red River to some mouse sanctuary.

It sounds like a great adventure.

In fact, that’s the one childhood fantasy I’ve never been able to shake.

Yup, I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy.

Who knew I’d grow up to be a mouseboy!

But Burt back at the hardware store probably could have already told you that.

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