In mid-August, I started seeing the first mice of the summer. One afternoon three different specimens all went careening by. (I mean, I’m pretty sure they were different mice, since they were all running from different points of origin to the same tasty hole under the radiator, but who knows. Mice are much more clever than I am and for all I know it was one super teleporting mouse, or fifteen mice moving so quickly they only looked like three.)
F put a trap down by the TV, along the path I had seen one running. One short hour later, excitement escalated when it was discovered the cheese was missing, but no mouse was caught. “That little m****rf****r!” F shouted. “I’ll show that bastard! He’ll get cocky, and I’ll catch him!”
Only one more short hour after that I walked into the living room to find F sitting dejectedly on the couch. I followed his sad gaze to the trap, wherein squirmed a mid-sized gray mouse.
“What an idiot,” F said. “I didn’t even put any cheese back on the trap.”
I know he rails about how much he hates “roommates who don’t pay rent” and shakes his fist at them when they go running by, but it became apparent to me that day that he was terribly disappointed in the mouse for getting itself caught. With the first disappearance of the trap cheese, it had seemed like we had another truly wily mouse on our hands, like the famously evasive kitchen mouse of last summer, who used to come out on the counter and taunt us. Ah, how we miss him. But no, this mouse proved to be much less satisfactory. The “little idiot” came back and got himself stuck even though there was no cheese to be had.
Poor F. Seriously, you should have seen his face.
Naturally, the disposing of the vermin has been the sole ken of the Male. (Thank you, reliable gender stereotypes; but to be honest I’d probably rather live with the mice than have to be the one to end their little gray lives.) In the old days, F accomplished his task with much vigor–a quick bludgeon, a poison trap, some mace or whatever the household equivalent is.
Lately, though, he has a new tactic: he takes the glue trap outside with a bottle of olive oil (yes, I said olive oil, extra virgin–these are no pleb mice), puts the trap near the abandoned lot across the street, and pours the oil into the lipid-soluble trap glue, so the mouse goes squiggling free.
This is how I know he has fully anthropomorphized his Enemy. He almost cried the first time he attempted this glue-trap extrication maneuver; I found out later it was because (and he didn’t confess this for weeks) he killed the mouse by accident while he was trying to free it. Woops.
Big softee. What over the course of four years has shifted him from a raging, bashing mouse-hater to a guy who secretly hopes he can’t catch the little buggers, and then cries when he kills them by accident?
This morning, he caught a really little guy, and headed off downstairs with his bottle of oil and the glue trap. Our neighbor Tyrone was standing outside.
“Come on, kill the bastard,” Tyrone said. “Otherwise he’s just going to go running back inside. He’ll probably end up in my apartment.”
“I don’t think so,” F said. “I mean, he’s been marinated in olive oil. He’ll make excellent snacking.”
When he came back upstairs, he asked me, “Do you think some cat will get him right away? Or do you think he’ll be ok?”
Privately, I think any mouse stupid enough to get himself squashed onto a glue trap probably won’t survive the street-tough kitty gangs of our neighborhood. But I said, “Well, if he makes it, it’s because he deserves to.”
And he does. I’m glad, though, that I’ll never know one way or another.