Dislike of field mice entirely legitimate

I need to be upfront about something: I don’t like field mice. So those of you who do might as well stop reading right here.

While I am not aware of any field mice rights activist groups operating within our community, I generally learn of such forces only after they emerge following my writing about what I hadn’t perceived to be a particularly controversial topic.

“What kind of heathen are you to discriminate against cockroaches?!” my fan mail begins. “Would you like people saying disparaging things about YOU all the time?” I have no idea how to respond to that.

Growing up on a farm fueled my disdain for rodents. When my dad was putting up ear corn in the fall, the dual chutes of his ancient corncrib would get plugged. So he’d send my older sister and me crawling down them to kick loose the stubborn jam pile of corn he couldn’t hook out from below.

“Crawling” isn’t quite the right word, because the long chutes atop the corncrib were only about a 12-inches deep and we had to lie flat on our backs and scoot down the cramped space, looking up at the roofing nails eagerly waiting to impale us.

Here’s where the field mice come in: They would run around and over us in the chutes while we were lying down, kicking corn, avoiding roofing nails. Flinching wasn’t an option. Screaming was. A claustrophobic nightmare before we even knew what “claustrophobic” meant.

You can see how this might curb one’s enthusiasm for mice. My mother tried to restore the balance between species by reading us stories like “Santa Mouse,” which was probably published by the same field mice rights activists also responsible for the more recent book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

But I wasn’t fooled by any talking, walking upright, clothes-wearing, present-bearing mice. Rodents they remained. And in my mind, the only good rodent is a dead one. This leads to my own children’s story, which I’ll call “The Evil Little Car Mouse That Needed to Die.”

Back when I had time to plan ahead, I would put things in my car the night before work, so I wouldn’t forget them the next day. That included food items. One day at lunch I noticed a hole bored in my banana. I assumed I must have bought it that way, until it happened again. After examining the minute traces of forensic evidence (mouse turds on the dashboard), I theorized I had a car mouse. One of us had to go and it would not be the one making the car payments.

The car mouse showed himself while I was driving down I-94 in early morning traffic. Thanks to the corncrib training of my youth, I continued driving unflinchingly as he scampered across my lap. Know what happened next, boys and girls? I trapped the little creep with the harsh metal snap of a Victory trap. But what I didn’t realize was that full victory was not yet mine.

We got blasted with a heavy snow early that year and the parking lots and walkways near my workplace weren’t plowed. I waded in dress shoes out of my car and grabbed my snow boots from the trunk. Well-insulated moon boots were a better choice for the hike to the building.

I’d walked only a few steps when I felt something moving inside my right boot, within the thickly padded top. I felt more movement and walked faster. My instinct was to stop and rip off the boot, but there was just too much snow. I started running, conscious of the squirming sensation above my nyloned foot. The car mouse had a spouse.

Once inside, I ripped off my right boot, then removed my left to use as a club. Nothing came out of the boot. I kicked it, lifted it, and shook it. Out rolled several hickory nuts. I grew brave and plunged in my gloved hand. No mouse, just the nest the car mouse had built. The nuts rolling around had caused the sensation of movement.

No happy ending here. Just relief. And yet another reason to dislike field mice.

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