I am not afraid of mice. I am not. I do, however, have a freakish instinctual reaction to a mouse running amok in my presence. I do the Screaming Mouse Dance.
It is an embarrassing display. I am not by nature a screamer, or even a squealer for that matter. I mean, I've been known to laugh a little too loud, but for the most part I'm fairly reserved. Shy. Quiet. But let a mouse zip by, and I'm suddenly a bobby-socks wearing teenage girl in the presence of Elvis. SHRRREEIK!!!!
That's the history.
So last week as I was typing away in my dark little computer room, Mr. Mouse poked out from under my file cabinet and said hey. Oh, Lord you scared me, I said. Please don't run, I begged, because Bill and the dogs are sound asleep and they won't be if you run. And Mr. Mouse, being a polite fellow, flicked his whiskers a bit in a dignified, sure-whatever-you-say kind of way, and ducked back under the file cabinet. I decided the story I was working on could wait (still haven't finished it) and went immediately to bed.
Mr. Mouse said hi a few more times during the course of the week, in a delightfully stationary fashion, and we became friends. We used to get lots of field mice coming to visit this time of year when the nights got chilly, back at the farm. But though I had expected to see many, this was the very first mouse encounter since moving to this old house in Paducah five years ago. Some old houses in the neighborhood are being rehabbed, and perhaps Mr. Mouse has had to find new digs.
Then, on Thursday night, a friend stopped by. The dogs and I were upstairs. The dogs heard the knocking before I did, and the stampede down the stairs was on. I must grab Very Old Dog's collar as he goes down, as his legs don't always carry out the instructions from his brain, and our stairs are steep and twisting. I looked down to get the right collar. (Oh, yes, I've done that - Very Old Dog is left to his own reduced devices while I mistakenly have a death grip on the perfectly capable but similarly marked Mama Pajama's collar.) Something on the steps caught my eye.
It was Mr. Mouse.
Now. I have nine whippets. Sighthounds. Bred for centuries to chase small furry things, depending on their keen vision to detect moving critters and run them down. And all nine whippets crashed down the stairs, barking their greetings to our visitor, stepping on, over, and next to Mr. Mouse.And, Mr. Mouse was most definitely not stationary any more.
He was leaping madly to try to get up the stairs, but they were too tall. And now there was bedlam. My voice, aided and abetted by my lungs and mouth, but totally bypassing my brain, started the Moving Mouse Scream.AAAAAAAAAAAAAA! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Aaaaa! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! AAAAAAAAAAAA!
The poor guest who was knocking on my door was entertaining the possibilty that I had fallen and broken my leg. It's that kind of scream. I managed to open the door between outbursts, or during them, I should say.
"THERE'S A - GET IT, DOGS - MOUSE - LOOK! GET THE SQUIRRELLIE! - ON THE STAIRS!!"
"There's a mouse and a squirrel in your house?" My bemused guest was understandably confused.
"No. No. The dogs don't know the word 'mouse' but they know... AAAAAAAAAAAAAA! AAAAA! There it IS. GET THE SQUIRREL. GET THE BUNNIES! AAAAAAAAAA! OH MY OH AAAAAAAAAAA!!! LOOK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET IT!"
And then of all the hunters in the house, it was little Lindy Loo, the baby of the family, who finally saw Mr. Mouse. That set off a whole new fit of screaming from the idiot which had taken over my body. "Get it Lindy! Oh no, don't get it. AAAAAAAA! Look! Help her!" But the dogs, having infinitely better manners than their Servant, were welcoming our bewildered friend, who was standing in the foyer wondering what emergency service she should call to come get me. And poor Mr. Mouse was leaping up a step, only to fall down two, and then he would remember that I preferred my mice to be immobile, and he would hunker down and not move a whisker. When he did this, Lindy Loo would lose him, even if she were standing on his tail.
Finally, Fat Charlie saw our little rodent friend. Uh-oh. This was not good news for Mr. Mouse's loved ones. Now I changed my mind. "No, Fat Charlie! Leave it... Ohhh AAAAAAAAA! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Oh NOOO! Oh.. OHHHHH. LOOK OUT HERE IT COMES! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
Lindy Loo, Fat Charlie, Luciano, Mama Pajama, Mr. Mouse and I all tumbled down the stairs, and I was in Full Shreiking Mouse Alarm. I imaging people heard me three towns away and headed into their basements, mistaking me for the tornado siren.
Thank goodness, I provided ample distraction for Mr. Mouse who ducked into the coat closet. I immediately returned to my unpossessed self, turned to my guest, and said, "Hi! Shall we go out for a bite to eat? Lovely evening isn't it? How have you been?"
You can't blame me for being fond of Mr. Mouse:Lindy Loo and Swede William
He looks like family!