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Monday, January 21, 2013

Stuart Little - The Dark Years

I recall when I was a little girl getting up early one morning and finding a squirming mouse in a trap my mother had set in the kitchen the night before. 
Because of the compassionate child that I was, I took it out to the garden and emancipated the unfortunate wretch. 

When I told my mother about my kindly deed she hit the roof.

This affinity to small creatures may have been what inspired me to buy pet mice for Thaddeus and Jonah when they were about nine and seven. Either that or five bucks a mouse seemed like a very cheap distraction.

The boys adored the tiny furry little critters and apart from a near tragic incident when Lulu inadvertently stood on one, they provided hours of happy entertainment. (After she stood on it I presumed it was dead, wrapped it in a tissue and concealed it in the bin. About an hour later I heard rustling and realized the mouse, just like Lazarus, had risen from the dead.) 

Roughly about three weeks after the mice had taken up residence I noticed that one of them looked a bit pudgy. Very pudgy actually. 

 I know what you’re thinking and no, it couldn’t be pregnant because I had it on good authority (the girl at the pet shop, who looked very honest), that they were both cute little girl mice.

The next day or so, inspecting the cage I noted that the fat mouse was now mysteriously skinny again. She looked a bit strange too, sort of wet and sweaty. 

This curious phenomenon occurred repeatedly about every three weeks over the next six months.

Visiting the pet shop one day searching for a magic product to prevent the mouse cage from stinking so much, I casually asked the girl on the counter what she thought might be wrong with the poor little mouse.

“You’ve got a buck and a doe together I’d say.” she nodded sagely.

What’s she talking about? I thought. What the hell are bucks and a does? 

“What’s actually happening,” she continued knowledgeably, “is that the female is getting pregnant to the buck, and when she gives birth the buck is eating the babies… are you alright? You look a bit pale.”

I drove home feeling nauseous and disgusted. I strode into the laundry and full of steely resolve took the grisly mouse cage into the garden and released Hannibal Lector and his sick, sick girlfriend into the wild.