Jan Stafford Kellis

Facing My Fears

It’s painful and shameful to divulge, but at the risk of reducing my reputation to that of a cowering idiot, I must concede: I’m afraid of mice.

The word ‘afraid’ doesn’t communicate the full force of my affliction. Mice terrify me; they repulse me. I know and understand the reality of their minuscule proportions, and yet, when I witness one scurrying through the garage or (horrors! I’m trapped!) the basement, it appears gargantuan. The smallest mouse I’ve observed was the size of a football and the largest, a small dog. Yes, I realize my mental images are obscuring reality and the mice are actually smaller than my fist (eww! Imagine one touching my hand!) but my stomach retains its contents only because of my superior vomit prevention mechanism, often exercised this time of year when the mouse population is high and they are all seeking shelter.

When I was a child I read books about mice. The Mouse and the Motorcycle was one of my favorites, and of course I read Stuart Little and a collection of others. Unfortunately, real mice do not don Victorian waistcoats and tiny spectacles; they don’t converse about erudite topics; they don’t travel under one’s hat or drive little cars. They certainly don’t know how to prepare gourmet meals (or was that a rat, in the movie ‘Ratatouille’? Must have been a rat. Shivers–even larger than a mouse!)

So the fear has become debillitating: the other night as I pulled into the garage at home, I noticed a mouse streaking across the floor. My reaction never varies, so I endured the entire anxiety/panic attack as my stomach clenched, I heard a rushing sound in my ears, I broke out in goosebumps, my hands gripped the steering wheel, my bladder threatened to release its contents, and I may have forgotten to breathe for a minute or two. The mouse was unaffected, frolicking happily, seeking a dark tunnel (of course I checked my pant legs: firmly pulled down around my shoes, no gaping invitation there). In light of this debillitation, I decided to face my fear and set traps for these dirty rodents. My husband normally sets the traps, but he’s tired of my irrational fear and tired of emptying traps.

My method will be twofold: (1) a line of traps, which will be treated as disposables so I will never have to touch the cadavers and (2) a Polish mouse trap made with a bucket, a beer can and some peanut butter, which I can empty at arms’ length while frantically inhaling fresh air over my other shoulder. The annihilation of the mouse population at Honeymoon Acres will commence this Sunday (Nov 29) after I gather my supplies. The result should also be twofold: (1) there will be no more mice on the premises, at least until next year’s batch moves in and (2) I will no longer be handicapped by the mere sight of a tiny rodent smaller than my (gulp) fist.

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