The mouse is back.
Seems like every year at this time, with the onset of colder weather, a mouse will cash in the reservations he made last spring and move in to the time-share we unwittingly run here.
It's almost become routine. I drag out snowshoes, insulated coveralls, a large pack, a rifle, two dozen steel traps and a jar of peanut butter. Head off for the kitchen, the territory of the elusive mouse.
Trapping season is now open.
Here's a hint. Everybody knows that peanut butter is a good bait for a mouse trap. But did you ever stop to think how much more effective chunky peanut butter is? That's right, the mouse has to slow down a little to eat the chunky stuff. Just enough time to spring the trap. Or that's the theory, anyway.
I spend a lot of time on stuff like this.
My eldest daughter, who has no problem standing in a batter's box while 70 mph softballs whiz past her chin, has epileptic-like episodes when confronted with a running mouse. Mouse season, in fact, usually opens with a scream of dismay when she stumbles into the kitchen at 5 am, barefooted and backed into a corner by a grinning rodent.
This years contestant seems to be an unusually agressive fellow. Probably a pissed off cousin of the one I dispatched last year. He's been spotted numerous times, bold as brass, running in full daylight in nearly every room on the first floor. Naturally, his size grows in direct proportion to these sightings.
"Dad, I saw the mouse today. He's about a foot long and has taken to wearing your old football helmet and carrying a box of Cheerios on his back".
"Honey, can't you do something about that damned mouse? This morning I saw him lurking out by the car with my keys. I swear, if my car turns up missing you'll be the one to blame."
And so it goes.
When the critter is finally snagged, as it inevitably will be, they always have the same reaction.
"That's it? No way, the one I saw had on a Chicago Bears jersey and full shoulder pads."
Makes little difference. It is enough, I guess, to feel needed and have a real responsiblity to defend the family against all invaders, foreign and domestic. To develop strategy against the Mouse King and duel him with drawn sword to the backdrop of Swan Lake, played at ample volume on the Sony surround sound. Yes, this is my life, so casually made sacrificial in battle on the bloodied plain of the kitchen floor.
Pass the peanut butter, I'm goin' in.
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