In the wake of my recent mouse dilemma (if he's still there when I get home, I'm giving him a name) I'm reminded of the only other rodent I was able to tolerate: Bob, aka The Mouse Saved From The Jaws Of Death. My daughter Sarah had come home from school one day when she was in the first grade and showed me her closed fist. "Susan (not her real name) gave me something, but I know you won't let me keep it," she said. Susan was a friend whose....unusual....family situation tended to make my hair stand on end, and I braced myself: what was it? Something that belonged to Susan's mother? A piece of her jewelry? Her crack pipe? "Well, what is it?" I asked, and Sarah opened her hand to show me a tiny black mouse. I screamed so loud that he shot up in the air like he was levitating, then collapsed back onto Sarah's palm.
Susan's mother kept snakes, and that morning Jessica had smuggled the mouse into school in her backpack to prevent him from being consumed. I don't like mice. In fact, I HATE mice. I have a physical reaction to mice/bats/birds when they appear in my house that I swear will one day kill me: my heart pounds painfully, I can't breathe...the sight of something scuttling/flying/swooping indoors turns me into a screaming, sobbing maniac, and this time was no different. Against my better judgment, I agreed to provide temporary foster care to the vermin. We named him "Bob" and made him a home in a mayonnaise jar. The first night, he fell into his water dish and I woke up to find him soaking wet and shivering. The next night, he moved into my room, where I could keep an eye on him. I plugged in the heating pad, covered it with a towel, and put Bob's jar on top of it. I touched the jar several times during the night to make sure it wasn't too hot, but the next morning Bob was stretched out on his back, limbs splayed, sweating and panting. So far he'd spent a day in a backpack, had been frightened out of his wits by a shrieking giant, then endured back to back nights of alternately freezing and roasting. I borrowed a cage from friends who kept rodents and Bob seemed visibly relieved to move in.
While I was fond of Bob (who lived to a ripe old mouse age and was charming and friendly to the end) he didn't exactly change my opinion about vermin as a whole. I'm not sure if our current mouse will, either, as I'm leaving on a long-anticipated vacation this morning and told my son that there'll be a cash reward if he disposes of the interloper while I'm gone. "A mouse?" he said when I filled him in. "I HATE mice." Atta boy!