A distraught woman isn’t much fun to live with. That’s why men often say dumb things in lame attempts to make us feel better.
“Don’t worry; it will grow back.”
“Of course I was listening.”
“No bigger than in any other jeans you wear.”
Last week, my husband of almost 30 years (long enough to know better), said the dumbest thing of all, and I quote: “It’s just a little mouse.”
To which I replied, at a decibel level rivaling a pneumatic drill:
“Are you KIDDING ME? The point isn’t that it’s little; the point is it’s a MOUSE, you MORONIC MAN! The SIZE of the mouse doesn’t matter. In fact, if it were a BIG mouse — like Mickey or Minnie, for example — I wouldn’t be up on all fours on this bar stool like some kind of circus elephant! I’d be skipping around the kitchen singing ‘It’s a Small World!!’”
I know, I know. It’s an old, tired anti-feminist image — the strong adult woman reduced to a sobbing, screaming Mimi, all because of a rodent the size of her thumb. I’m so sorry, Helen Reddy!
Believe me. I’ve tried to buck up where household mice infestations are concerned, but I have yet to conquer that particular fear. A fear my devoted spouse calls “irrational.”
For him, and anyone out there who is similarly misguided, here — once and for all — are the reasons most women are afraid of mice, in no particular order:
1. Mice are outdoor creatures. They do not belong indoors unless they’re in laboratories (and even then there are people who might take issue). Mice belong in fields, thus the term “field mouse.” (Come to think of it, I have never seen a mouse in a field or anywhere else in the wild. Only inside. Huh. Must rethink initial “outdoor creature theory.”)
2. Even if they were indoor creatures, mice are not potty-trained. Their toilets are our kitchen countertops, cabinets, floors and wherever else they feel like dropping their, er, droppings.
3. “Willard”. Yes, I know Ben and Socrates — co-stars of the 1971 horror movie — were rats, not mice. But close enough. Did you SEE that flick? Terrifying! I’m not even going to talk about the sequel, “Ben,” out of respect for Michael Jackson (he died, you know), but take my word for it: Rats (and by close association, mice) are vengeful varmints. You don’t want to cross them.
4. Mice are incredibly fast. It’s not the size that’s scary; it’s the speedy scampering. (If a mouse moved at the pace of, say, a slug, they’d still be gross but not half as frightening.) No matter how sensible a woman you are, it’s impossible not to imagine the mouse scampering up your pants leg and into your undergarments. That’s why we climb onto stools.
5. Mice carry diseases. I’m freaked out enough over the swine flu, thank you. I don’t need a case of mousepox paranoia, too.
A week after my first hysterical sighting, there was a second.
This one was unusual in that the mouse that set me off was dead (thus negating Reason No. 4: “mice are scary because they’re fast”). The poison apparently worked, or so it seemed.
He (or she) was lying right there on the family room rug, dead as a doornail, and STILL I imagined it scampering up my leg into my Jockey hi-cuts.
More terrifying was the odor this tiny 3-inch pest was emitting through the house. There is no smell quite so distinctive as the stench of rotting mouse.
It was the foul fetor of decay that prompted me off the stool and into action. I had no choice. I was alone, with no one else to do the nasty deed.
I grabbed a bowl and plate from the cupboard. Holding my breath, I approached the mouse on tiptoe. (Yes, I thought he was dead, but how could I be sure he wasn’t power napping?) Kneeling down, I quickly covered him with the bowl, slipped the plate under his lifeless body and carried him, at arm’s length, to the trash can in the garage.
When my husband came home, I told him of my heroic exploit. Feigning genuine concern, he said, “Weren’t you freaking out?”
“Nah,” I replied. “It was just a little mouse.”
I am woman: Hear me roar.