Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Of Mice, Kids, Cats, and Chaos

original run date November 8, 2011
Chariton Valley News Press

I enjoy the social aspect of Facebook. I know that is pretty crazy coming from a person in my generation but I do use Facebook as a social tool and nothing else. I haven’t been on much the last few weeks. In fact, I’m so busy most days that by the time I get home, I have almost forgotten I even have an account. I’m just not on much lately but checking in one night provided me more entertainment than most comedies on TV these days.
A friend’s status started out innocently enough. She had a mouse in her house and she wanted it gone – dead and gone never to return. All sorts of suggestions came pouring in and over the course of the next few evenings I found myself drawn back to her page to read the updates on the great mouse hunt.
I don’t like mice much myself. I don’t hate them but I don’t like them. I’m not the type of person who will make a train of chairs across the room to avoid contact after seeing one scurry through the room but I will set out to kill them quickly. When you live in the country and have a hayfield all around your house and a barn full of horse feed, it becomes quite a task.
Much to my husband’s dismay, many years ago I decided to best way to combat the pesky little rodents was with house cats. My girls were thrilled at the prospect. Larry – not so much. He was outruled 3-2 and house cats became a part of the war on rodents. My intention was to just have one cat but we had two girls. It was much easier to have two cats than listen to the arguments over whose cat it was, who had to feed it and whose turn it was to clean the litter box. Welcome to the family Maggie and Miss Kitty. The girls loved and spoiled them with gusto.
Maybe too much gusto.
The cats turned out to be quite efficient mousers; I was proud. My point had been made. The girls were not quite as thrilled about that aspect of their newfound friends. The cats truly loved the girls and wanted to express their affection. This meant that with each fresh kill, they had a trophy. Maggie and Miss Kitty were more than happy to share said trophy with their best friends; the deposit was always made in the doorway of one of the two girls bedrooms. I was sure that I saw an evil grin on Maggie’s face every time she got a reaction.
Those cats proved to be very entertaining – to me. Maggie didn’t like Larry much for some reason so I secretly chuckled at the war between the two over the years but my favorite memory with those two felines was by far the great piano bar mouse hunt. We had one of those really big, old pianos in our dining room. The kind that stands over five feet tall and takes six football players to get in the house. It was strategically placed in the dining room because the bench could double as one of the miss matched seats around the kitchen table.
It also managed to serve as a safe haven for a mouse that unknowingly wandered into enemy territory one winter afternoon. We heard the commotion start in the utility room and come crashing through the kitchen. First was the mouse, two cats in hot pursuit and Elmer Fudd (Jake) bringing up the end. The mouse quickly sought refuge under the piano.
The scene was made for the movies. Both cats had their heads flat on the floor and their backside stuck in the air as they tried to reach the mouse under the piano. It had found a safe spot just out of reach of the black and white paws swiping ferociously at it. Behind the cats were three kids, all with their heads pressed to the floor, peering under the piano to watch.
I’m not sure how the conversation progressed to the next scene – that is the one part of this story not burned into my brain. Jake had received a bb gun for Christmas that year. One of the kinds that you pump up – the more you pump, the more force the bb has. He was never allowed to pump more than three times unless Larry was with him. Jeana suggested it would be helpful to the cats if Jake were to shoot the mouse for them.
Larry quickly stepped in. Jake never touched the floor as he flew into the utility room to get the prized gun out of the gun cabinet. One pump meant the bb might roll out of the end of the barrel so he was allowed two pumps and had to back up to a safe distance. The only thing Larry wanted a ricochet to touch was the cat. Both girls were shuffled behind Jake.
I’m not sure what was the funniest. The girls screaming so loud when that mouse hit the floor that the neighbors in Randolph County probably heard them, the look of shock on Larry’s face, both cats raising their head and their jaws hitting the floor, or the happy dance my son did when he realized he hit was he was aiming at. Innocent bystanders may have thought Elmer Fudd had finally shot Bugs Bunny.
With one quick swipe of a furry paw, one of the cats had another trophy to present to the girls. Macon County neighbors probably heard that commotion. Jake was disappointed that he was not allowed to hunt in the house anymore – he was sure he was going to be our mouse exterminator from then on out.
When I finally quit laughing, I realized that although I truly hate mice, it might have been worth it for that one to come running through the house. I don’t think Hollywood could have created a funnier scene than what unfolded in my dining room that evening. I’m sure if Facebook had been in existence it would have made my status that evening.

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