Sunday, November 6, 2011

An Unforgettable Incident, which I had somehow forgotten about.

I don't know what's more astonishing - the incident itself, or the fact that I managed to forget all about it  for five years.

While searching my email archives for a piece of data that for some reason was suddenly a matter of highest importance after years of irrelevance, and which the following day was once again irrelevant, I stumbled upon an email from 2006 in which the following incident, possibly the weirdest food fight that ever took place, is recorded.

I was living in a rented house in Rivervale, WA that was experiencing a problem with the order Rodentia, specifically (har!) Mus Musculus. Fortunately, I had recently purchased 100 standard mousetraps for a science project (don't ask) and was able to divert a few of them to the cause of discomfiting our uninvited guests.

Mus Musculus, or common house mouse.
The little buggers are smarter than they look, and after suffering a few casualties, they learned how to circumvent basic mousetrap technology by exercising unbelievable skill in stealing the bait.  This resulted in an escalation of hostilities as I pitted my wits against theirs.  I applied myself to making the traps even more sensitive using knowledge acquired as an R&D engineer, while simultaneously making alternative food sources completely unobtainable to them.  All cardboard packaging was eliminated, all food was sealed within hard plastic containers, and all surfaces were divested of any food remains after the evening meal each night.

By bending the retaining wire just so and applying a thin film of olive oil, I was able to make the traps so sensitive that they would spontaneously deploy if I so much as failed to tread sufficiently lightly on the kitchen floor.  This art claimed three or four more vermin.  But there the death toll stayed for some weeks as the wily mice adapted their tactics to mine.

One evening the wife and I were just sitting down to our meal when I looked over and saw a large grey mouse scouring the kitchen floor for our leavings, bold as brass, making no effort to conceal herself, obviously taking advantage of the only opportunity for foraging that I had overlooked.  It never occurred to me to clean the kitchen immediately after preparing the meal and before sitting down to enjoy it.

"Quick!" I whispered, not taking my eyes off the intruder, "Give me something to throw!"  My startled but clever and self-possessed wife hesitated only very briefly.  She picked up the first thing she could see (found in a bowl on the kitchen table, as it turns out) and placed it in my outstretched hand.

It was a medium-sized lemon from the tree in the backyard.  I allowed my years of softball training to take control of my arm.  On instinct alone without necessarily trying to aim, I threw the lemon hard.  To my complete amazement, the lemon struck the mouse square on and killed it dead.

Never the squeamish sort, my wife walked over to the lemony-fresh rodent, picked it up by its lifeless tail and dropped it unceremoniously into the waste bin.

The only mice we saw after that were two young and very stupid mice, orphans obviously, who must take more credit for their own demise than I can.  One was silly enough to get into the kitchen sink, from which he was unable to get out again (the sides being too high and smooth).  The other got himself tangled up in a plastic grocery bag, which I was shrewd enough to detect.  Plastic bags, you see, do not normally make rustling sounds of their own accord.  Just call me Sherlock.

I can't imagine how I could have forgotten such a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.  I honestly don't know who was more surprised at the thrown lemon's effect - me or the mouse.  To be sure, there have been some traumatic and consuming events in the last few years, but what could compare with bagging a mouse with a lemon thrown sidearm while seated at the kitchen table?   How many other people can boast of such an accomplishment?

One, at least.  My wife had years ago dispatched a mouse in an office were she worked by throwing an order book at it like a frisbee.


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