A Mouse Tale
By John Gray
Today we answer the age old question of who is smarter—a man or a mouse? Or more appropriately an anchor— man or a mouse? If you’re betting on the rodent your money is safe.
Our mouse tale begins on a crisp spring day when I purchased a hamster for my daughter Amanda. For those of you who’ve never seen a hamster up close, they are a lot like the kind of mouse that makes you scream and jump up on a chair, but without the creepy tail. In other words they’re… cute for a rat.
Now if I were a mouse I’d want to have free run of the house and 24-hour access to the Disney Channel (you know, Mickey Mouse), but my furry new friend had to settle for a nice cage and one of those exercise wheels. I thought mice liked running on those, but when I put him in there he just stared at it. It reminded me of myself when I go to the gym and just glare at the treadmill, refusing to get on. Since he wouldn’t run or do anything we decided to name him. What seemed appropriate? Lazybones? Sloth? K-Fed? None of those names seemed fitting. Then my daughter had a thought, “Snowball. Why don’t we call him snowball?” Why not? I would soon learn we should have called him Houdini.
It was 2am on the very first night in his new home when Snowball, aka “Houdini”, made his first of many escapes. Once I fell asleep he did a Chuck Norris like karate kick to the cage door and sent it flying open. Despite the fact that the cage was five feet off the ground he jumped, tucked and rolled like a Hollywood stunt man and sprang to his freedom.
Day one—mouse missing. My home is not large so I thought I could find Houdini in no time. I searched for three hours moving every piece of furniture and pulling apart every nook and cranny. Nothing. That night I put a single piece of hamster food on the kitchen floor with a note that said, “Snowball, please come home.” The next morning the food was gone, and in its place I found a single piece of mouse poop. Message understood. It was game on
Day two—mouse still missing. I called in reinforcements to help in my mouse hunt. Now there were four of us pulling my home apart looking for any sign of Houdini. Nothing. Then it hit me. Why am I, a college graduate, crawling around on the floor looking for this little varmint? I’m smarter than he is, I’ll just catch him. So that night I decided to trap the hamster with a device most ingenious. I took a shoebox and with a popsicle stick tipped one end of the box in the air. I then tied a piece of string from the popsicle stick to a piece of hamster food. The plan? When Houdini grabs the food the popsicle stick will move, the box will fall over the top of him and, Wa La, I’ve got him.
The next morning I found the box lying flat as I expected; something had sprung my trap. I put on a pair of oven mitts for protection. Hey, don’t laugh, I’ve seen that Fox show “When Animals Attack” and you never know what could happen. I lifted the box and found nothing. Well that’s not true. No mouse and no food, but he was kind enough to leave behind two pieces of mouse poop this time. In the words of my favorite cheerleading movie I shouted, “BRING IT ON”. I could only hope the mouse was listening and understood “cheerleader”.
Day three—mouse still missing. While sipping coffee and staring at my failed trap it came to me. The box fell as it was suppose to but the mouse was able to push it off. Solution? I needed an alarm system. So I took a tiny Christmas bell off an ornament I had in storage and tied it to the string, which was attached to the food. Now when he sprang the trap I’d hear the bell ring and get to him before he got away. You know what they say, “Every time you hear a bell ring an angel gets his wings and a dirty little rodent is trapped in John’s kitchen.” I woke up the next day and the food was gone, the poop was back and the bell was missing. Great, now I was helping him decorate.
Day four—mouse still missing and now I had a new problem. Up until now I had not told my daughter her mouse was lost and she was coming over to visit later that day. I could tell her the truth, but that would have been the smart thing to do and when is the last time I did that? Instead, I decided to go to the pet store and buy a replacement mouse. I figured I could fool her with an imposter, just for a day, and then once I caught the original hamster I’d swap them back out. It was foolproof. My daughter came, played with her hamster and never said a word. Mission accomplished, or so I thought.
That night I left the cage with the new mouse on the floor and went to bed. The next morning I woke to an amazing sight. The cage door was open again, but instead of finding it empty I had two mice inside. Yes, Houdini had returned, not only to eat, but to also make “friends” with mouse number two. Now when I say “friends” I mean they were doing something I can’t discuss in a family magazine. Here I was killing myself trying to catch this little guy when all I had to do was get him a girlfriend. He broke back into prison for love. It was romantic in a smarmy rodent kind of way.
While breaking up their conjugal visit I noticed something troubling—the two mice didn’t look anything alike. Houdini was light brown with brown eyes and the replacement mouse was as white as a cotton ball with red eyes. Since my daughter called the first mouse “Snowball” I just assumed he was white. Oops.
That weekend when my kids came over I decided to come clean and tell the whole truth. My daughter just smiled and said, “I knew it wasn’t the same mouse but didn’t want to say anything Dad.” She’s a good kid and a good sport.
Since my two hamsters kept acting like a couple of rabbits I decided to separate them. Houdini went to live with a nice family down the road and Snowball #2 now resides in the Gray household. She never tries to escape, but I am concerned about her health because she’s put on a considerable amount of weight. At least I think it’s just weight. Oh no! Does anyone out there want a hamster? Or 10?
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writing at the Troy Record. He can be reached at email@example.com