The mice or me

Image: Nolan Issac

I used to be extremely scared of mice.

This came from my dad. When I was a kid, it was a known fact that he HATED mice. He’d tell me the story, with grimaced face, how when he was 16, hauling hay for the family farm (my dad had ginormous forearms and I never once saw him lift a weight — all from hauling so much hay when he was a wee lad), a field mouse scurried up his pant leg and bit him on the inner thigh (I always thought to myself as he told me this story time and again — good thing it was his inner-thigh 😜). It made him really sick and ever since then, he’s had a personal vendetta against mice.

If he saw a mouse in the house, he’d go in an all-out blitzkrieg. Nothing was too extreme to kill the little furry terrorists. Let’s just say he didn’t use animal-friendly non-lethal devices. Shotguns, blowtorches, napalm, hand grenades, Pop Rocks, Mountain Dew... All of it was fair game.

I remember when he started working at the mine in Nevada. I was finishing up high school in California, living with my aunt. He’d come home and visit every couple weeks. In the summer, I’d go visit him. His living situation was such that he and his co-workers each had their own trailer on-site in the middle of the northern Nevada desert. This particular summer, they had a mouse problem. A big one.

My dad’s trailer was secure. He had every single hole plugged with that industrial-strength spray foam. Towels were tucked under each door jamb. His trailer was like the pentagon. No mouse was getting within 100 yards of the front door without getting picked off by a sharp-shooter.

During my visit, I stayed in a separate trailer that belonged to his boss who was out of the country for a month. Apparently, his boss gave zero shits about mice because his trailer had none of the security measures my dad’s had. I remember waking up in the morning on a couple of occasions only to be welcomed by nasty little furry-bodied, flesh-eared mice in the hallway, bathroom, kitchen, and living room, respectively.

I’d freak out. To me, mice=attacking and biting followed by a horrid illness. I’d jump back in my bed and pull the sheets up (because the mice could easily advance up a bed sheet).

We took care of the problem that summer. Well, my dad did. I won’t go into details. Let’s just say the mice lost.

Thereafter, he always advised me to plug every single hole with industrial foam when I moved into a new place. And for awhile I did. Until I got comfortable. This house we live in now, I failed to do this. We’ve lived here for almost two years with zero intrusions. Until a couple weeks ago. When I woke up and saw a little guy scurry across my floor.

Damn, I thought. My father is probably rolling over in his grave right now. He taught me better. I’ve obviously failed him.

But I noticed something… The mouse hit me differently this time. I wasn’t nearly as distraught. Since that summer when I was 16, I’ve done a lot of, shall we say, inner-work. I’ve come to understand the nature of thought as being particularly fleeting and that things we deem to be scary are usually ghost stories penned by none other than ourselves.

This time, when I saw the mouse, although I wasn’t exactly totally comfortable with it (because it’s weird and odd and disgusting having a disease-carrying rodent inhabiting your home), I was far less charged.

Yesterday, I saw another mouse in the house we’re moving into. It scurried away and ran down into a hole in the hole where the wall heater is going. Years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to go back in the house unless I was armed to the teeth. And when I did, the first thing I’d do is, like the old man said, plug every hole.

As I write this, nothing has been plugged. After seeing the mouse, I went about my day, painting and prepping the house for our move-in date. Letting the mouse be until I get around to plugging the holes (don’t think I won’t eventually plug the holes).

What I realized is — nothing about the nature of mice have changed. They’ve not become any more or less threatening or nasty or germ-carrying. But something has definitely changed.

Oh, right... I have.

Now… Where’s the closest place to buy peanut butter and a 12-gauge?

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