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Of Mice And Men

This Week's Issue: Homer prides himself in his understanding of his human brethren. In this issue, a tiny, unassumng critter raises questions as to what makes some of his human friends 'tick.'

I'm sorry that I didn't see it first. Granted, I am considered to be the canine protector of Isabel, Louella, and the Faded Glory Farm. Unfortunately, Isabel was the first to see it streak across the floor of the kitchen, and her scream was blood curdling. She instantly hugged herself, as if holding her various parts in place, and continued to stand there with an astonished look on her face. Louella was punching out biscuits at her stainless steel prep table, and within seconds she was perched on top of it screaming even louder than Isabel. Micah, who had been standing in the kitchen talking with them, stepped back, scratched his head, and calmly proceeded to help a now flour-covered Louella down from her tabletop refuge. I scoffed up the dough that had fallen to the floor during the 'mad rush.'

Yes, it was definitely a mouse, folks. Not a rat, just a tiny brown mouse with some white fur on it's underside. As Mr. Mouse skittered to safety under our huge Vulcan Gas Range, I realized that I had just seen a side of these two ladies that I had never witnessed before. Had that mouse been an armed, burly 250 pound male intruder, I would have had to take pity on the thug and gone to his defense before Louella killed him. Isabel would have had him begging for mercy while he was running for his life. But this mouse reduced both of my dauntless heroines to the roles of frightened children.

Back in 1899, the term for the fear of mice was "Musophobia." Back then, and ever since, there has been no logical basis for the irrational fear that little creatures have instilled in women. Some women have rationalized their fear of mice resulting from distant accounts of the days when the Bubonic Plague was thought to be spread by rats and mice, but there is still no logical basis for their innate fear of these little critters. So, what is it with women and mice, anyway?

I've personally seen Isabel pick up large black snakes with her bare hands and carry them to the wood line so that guests would not be frightened upon seeing them near the porch. I've also seen Louella 'escort' men of all sizes (sometimes even the Sheriff), who have gotten underfoot, out of her kitchen so that she could complete her job in peace. I pity the fool that would get in either of these ladies' way when they are 'on a mission.' Hysteria caused by mice? It just doesn't compute.

Frankly, I don't think I have ever seen a mouse at Faded Glory in the entire eleven years that I have lived here. This fact isn't the reason that we have no cats at the Inn; and we are not likely to have a cat in residence in the near future. Isabel really doesn't think much of cats, and Louella would have a fit if she ever caught a cat walking around on her counters or work tables in the kitchen. Anyway, based on the way Isabel and Louella maintain our kitchen, I would dare say that a mouse would starve to death around there. After all, I personally see to it that the kitchen floor is kept "crumb clean," and if necessary, I could also see to it that the kitchen is kept "mouse free." Okay, I can talk a good game!

Micah became fascinated with the 'mouse issue' for a few days, and he decided to see if elephants are as afraid of mice as they have been reputed to be over the years. His reading uncovered the fact that a scientific study in the early 1980's indicated that elephants are not frightened by mice per se, but, because elephants are inherently near-sighted, they are more easily startled by small creatures of any type that they cannot focus upon. Zoologists believe that elephants are instinctively afraid of cobras, scorpions and other poisonous critters that comprise their natural habitats. No such correlation can be drawn between mice and women. Here's a good subject for a government study; and the subsequent appropriation of a couple of million dollars to determine "Why Women in North America Fear Mice."

Actually, I think that it comes down to control issues. Dogs and men have egos, fear for their lives, and are smart enough to disappear when confronted. Women clearly realize that, and they have attempted to exercise control, all the way back to Eve and Cleopatra. You can communicate with dogs, men, and other assorted beasts; because they are somewhat logical. Mice are not. They have no logic, they live by no rules, they have no egos, they scurry and scamper mindlessly, and, thus, cannot be controlled. They survive partly because they are small and fast, they pilfer small amounts of food, and they are diminutive and easily concealed. Women can't see them, and even when they can, they cannot control them. I guess that size really does matter.

For the next few days I was dodging little wooden mousetraps placed in strategic locations throughout the kitchen. There were times during the day when the raw bacon and peanut butter used to bait these traps almost drove me to distraction, but I resisted these flavor temptations and finally got to see our fugitive rodent brought to justice. Wooden mousetraps represent capital punishment at it's worst. Judge, jury and executioner in one quick, decisive SNAP!

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