Classic Tales: Of Mice And Women

Living the cliché.

I am wrestling with this issue right now. See, we have a mouse who's been leaving the unhygienic evidence of his existence around the kitchen (and yes, I am steadfastly asserting that there is just one and will put fingers in ears if necessary to maintain the fiction.) I want the mouse gone. Like most people, I don't think of myself as being scared of mice, leaping up on a table and screeching like someone out of a dated cartoon. And yet, while I'm not exactly frightened, there's something super-disconcerting about seeing something mobile, something living, scuttle across one's peripheral vision, or hear an ominous after-dark rustling in the bags one keeps under the sink. In our carefully curated lives, it's unsettling to find an aggressively rogue element disturbing our equilibrium and I, for one, am not well equipped to deal with it.

Given the age of my preferred domiciles, vermin are nothing new...a few buildings ago, I had a highly eccentric landlady who, in addition to lecturing me and my friends about the evils of living in sin with boyfriends, would catch any mice in her bare hands and bear them out, squeaking, with an extremely satisfied look on her face. When my boyfriend put out a glue trap once and we were awoken by pitiful squeaking, I broke down: who were we, I said, to kill and maim just because an innocent creature had had the ill-fortune to wander into a space that we had arbitrarily designated as our own and pretended was separate from nature? My boyfriend carefully cleansed the mouse's paws with oil and released him, where he lumbered off slowly, sure to be picked up by the first predator who came along.

I have friends who kill mice with impunity. One couple's apartment was next to a construction site and the resulting flood of mice was so dramatic that at the height of the problem, they were catching a Pied Piper-style seven to ten a day, which he quickly dispatched. To anyone raised with more nature than the occasional rabid squirrel and ratty pigeon - never mind the proverbial "on a farm" — getting sentimental — or scared — about a tiny mouse probably seems unbelievably silly. But I can neither live with them nor kill them, surely some kind of horrible Rousseau's paradox for the modern city-dweller. Worst of all, I make my boyfriend deal with it which, besides being the worst kind of cliché , is really unfair. So come clean, dear reader: Do you kill? Cry? Scream? Catch and release? Pass the buck? How do you deal with one of the few reminders of inter-species cohabitation left to us?