This weekend, I finagled two passes to the House Hasson hardware show at Gaylord Opryland Convention Center, where manufacturers of building supplies try to woo retailers to carry their products. I totally forgot to take photographs, so just imagine a big-box hardware store with reps at every display, sharing the wonders of their SKUs. Aisle after aisle of concrete, roofing guns, grass-seed, eyebolts, flexible PVC, and galvanized whatnots. Like Costco on a Sunday, but instead of cheesecake and ham samples, the giveaways were Gorilla Glue and Monkey Fingers bungee cords.
I flirted with a DeWalt Flex Volt circular saw, while my husband made googly eyes at a heated chicken-watering system. We perused options for rodent and bug prevention, including mole poison disguised as grub worms and eco-friendly spray to ward off mosquitoes. There was some mouse-rid technology too, but I didn’t dwell on that, because we recently adopted a better mousetrap that’s working well at our house. It’s plastic, reusable and doesn’t have the finger-smashing peril of the old-school Tom & Jerry spring-loaded devices. One trap plus a dollop of peanut butter kills a couple mice a week Chez Fox, depending on the weather. It’s an easy technology, but you never quite get used to mice in rigor mortis, feet in the air, between toaster and microwave.
Which is why I was so surprised to return home from the hardware market to find my mother and my children returning from the pet store with—wait for it—two mice!
Let me recap: During the time that I was studying pest-control technologies at a hardware convention, my children and their grandmother were plunking down Christmas and birthday money to purchase Mr. Fluffball and Killer—doppelgängers for the vermin I’m committed to exterminating from my residence—who, I might add, are completely freaking adorable.
So, now we have a rodent hierarchy in our house: Downstairs mice who risk decapitation if they so much as sniff at peanut butter, and upstairs mice who live in the luxury of a palatial Rube Goldberg contraption, where they dine on whole-kernel corn and sweet potato mouse treats, serenaded by cooing adoration from the entire family.
Last summer, our family re-read Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of NIMH, so I can’t help wondering what might happen if Mr. Fluffball and Killer stumble upon the slaughter in the kitchen. Will they organize? Strike back? Engage the moles? Or will they simply warn their feral furry brethren: “Psst, guys, whatever you do, stay off the kitchen counter! Don’t go toward the Jif!”
Or will these 1% mice just snuggle down in the cozy safety of their upstairs cage, drunk on sweet-potato-flavored privilege?
It’s a lot to think about. And if there’s anyone thinking more about it than me, it’s the dog, who wants to eat them all, indiscriminately and immediately. Metaphor and morality are often lost on her.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fluffball and Killer seem blissfully ignorant in their new digs. But for now, I’ve de-activated the traps, and I’m sleeping with one eye open.