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Did you see the movie Enchanted? Remember the scene when the Cinderella-type character sings and all the little animals of New York—including mice, rats, pigeons, and squirrels—rush in to clean the apartment and sew her new clothes? I need to learn that song.
Even though our rural property makes us neighbors of the state former President G.W. Bush once called “the land of the enchanted,”* our rodent population doesn’t cooperate. I can sing myself hoarse and Bertram, the wood rat in our attic, just ignores me. He rudely gobbles up the processed cheese my husband fusses to set in a live trap. Bertram is better at not tripping the mechanism than my husband is. We’ve switched to peanut butter today, but our best hope for success seems to be that Bertram will grow so fat that he’ll get stuck trying to exit.
Meanwhile, the mice have discovered a weakness in the masonry of our living room fireplace—a magical gateway, if you will. We aren’t privy to the secret and apparently have no way to learn it without Nicholas Cage and a copy of the Constitution to help us, at the very least. The mice have learned not to show themselves when humans are present, and for a while I pretended we had discouraged them. Au contraire. When I was removing the items I display on our mantelpiece in preparation for our holiday decorations, I discovered that each candle and every lovely Native American pot had been carefully filled with dog food. “Dog food?” you ask, and well you might. “Where do they find dog food?”
At the opposite end of our open-concept living room/dining room/kitchen lies the spot where we feed our dogs. Perpetually competitive, the dogs are particular about when they choose to eat their kibble. They taunt one another, growling in a bluff to claim both bowls, before they grow weary of the game and go to sleep in our bedroom, leaving the food neither really wanted to eat to wait until morning. The mice don’t wait.
When the Apocalypse arrives and we humans are being consumed by zombies, our dear mice will be comfortably munching on dog food they have hidden away—on the mantel, in the plant pots, behind the books in the bookcase, even within the folds of the sofa throw. Their feast will be their ultimate revenge.
“Get a cat,” you say? We have a cat—a very old, nonviolent cat. When she was new, she used to dismember mice and leave bits of organic tissue lying around as warnings. But that was long ago. The pieces of livers and body-less heads eventually disgusted her, so she resorted to dumping stray mice in our bathtub where she could chase them in circles to her heart’s content. In the morning, I would find an exhausted, terrified little fuzz-ball curled up in the drain. My husband began marking “kills” on his gloves, although he didn’t kill anyone. He just relocated offenders somewhere outside. Apparently, they weren’t discouraged. He boasts that he has a much better capture record than the cat.
These days we hear the cat yowling at intruders as we try to sleep. We believe she has sub-leased the house to the mice, but she doesn’t want her annual evaluation to reflect her failure to meet expectations. Her teeth are too sore for confrontations, so she’s using emotional torture—observing the guidelines of the Geneva Convention, of course. It isn’t working.
So, if you accidentally discover the trick to making mice sew clothing and clean bathrooms, please let me know. My bathroom could use a good overhaul.
*(New Mexico’s motto is Land of Enchantment.)