When I was little, cartoons and books showed tiny archways along the floor molding. There would be a perfectly-shaped one every few feet—about the same number as the electrical outlets.

“Mommy, where are our mouse doors?”

“What?”

“The mouses, where are their doors?”

“It’s mice. Oh, they get in!”

What kind of answer was that? If the book or cartoon didn’t have a cat, the humans and the adorable little mice enjoyed a parallel use of the living quarters.

A couple of years later, I experienced a total lack of respect on the mice’s part when one darted by, interrupting our family time, causing my mother to become upset. This was not OK. Now the mice were intersecting.

Let me digress a bit here and jump ahead 45 years, because this is where I take issue with Dr. Phil. I once heard him explain about overreacting, citing an example of his mother running through a glass door because she saw a mouse on her pillow. You don’t even need Psych 101 to know that someone who thinks they are in a safe, cozy place, who is semi-conscious, and who sees an unexpected rodent will not be stopping to analyze reaction options.

Back to the intersecting mouse and all the mice who subsequently invaded our home. Their punishment was always death. Kids are pros at handling the double standards of the world in which they find themselves, and I continued to enjoy mice caricatures in books, on TV, and especially around the holidays. They cuted up many a card and decoration, and were allowed to stir among all the creatures in the house, as long as it wasn’t in our actual house.

Meanwhile, mice brazenness, in real life, grew. I had an apartment where the nerviest subspecies got in. One night, I had just finished dinner when the phone rang. As I was talking, I noticed three of them frolicking in and out of the pot in which I’d made gravy. When I banged something to scare them, they merely looked at me and kept on with their gravy party. That incident brought to light something Doctor Phil’s mother and I had (probably purposely) been denying: the knowledge that mice are multilevel—their talents aren’t restricted to darting along baseboards. Hi, we’re hanging out at your level tonight. Is this chicken or beef gravy?

Over the weekend I caught three mice: death for two and a catch and release for one, whose tail got stuck. He got a second chance in the great outdoors after I lifted the bar with a butter knife and let him scamper off to possibly get into your house.

The first one that I killed had initially set off the trap unharmed. I watched him move his mouth trying to get the almond butter out from under his gums—just like we do. He was so cute! But I just paid off the home equity loan Friday, so my territory is a little more mine right now. And since being kicked out of here is a sore spot for me, I took it out on him and set another trap. He died going for his second helping.

A darling little mouse making almond butter faces. In my territory. Kill the bastard. This Christmas hang the gray mouse ornament with the glittery green eyes and the red ribbon in a nice spot on the tree.

I guess I’m now an adult handling my own hypocritical double-standard.

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