The counter by the back door was covered with what looked like blue cupcake sprinkles. Of course, at 7 AM and Geoff and I weren’t really processing information yet.
He got it before I did.
“We’ve got a mouse,” he said.
The counter is where we keep all things dog related, including a jar of peanut butter that we use to persuade our dog Blue to take her vitamins. The sprinkles were actually the result of tiny sharp mouse teeth, trying their darndest to chomp though the blue plastic lid on the jar.
My lovely husband cleaned up the mess and set up the no-kill mouse trap we’ve used with mixed success in the past. Yes, I have friends who laugh at me for refusing to use a plain old snap trap, but I have my reasons…
The name of my first love was Ronnie. He lived across the street from me when I was nine years old. Oh, there were others before him—Steven, the tall, blonde tetherball champion of third grade. Timmy, the crewcut geek with glasses who stood behind me in the second grade class picture with his hand protectively —or was it possessively?—on my shoulder.
But those were childish infatuations compared to my secret crush on Ronnie. He had matinee idol potential. Dark, sleepy eyes with long lashes. When he smiled, his straight white teeth flashed against his olive skin. He wore his blue jeans cuffed, shirttail out, collar up, and he had taps on the heels of his shoes so they made that really cool sound when he walked down the hall at school.
But I think the real reason I loved him was, he had attitude. In 1955, it was called a bad attitude, or rudeness. But he wasn’t really rude. It was just that he wasn’t intimidated by authority. At ten years old, he seemed to regard adults as equals, showing none of the obsequiousness demonstrated by all the other kids I knew.
The day he asked if he could walk home with me was the high water mark of my life to date. I don’t recall the conversation we had, if there even was one. Ronnie was a man of few words. I only remember the way I felt, as if I walked in some shining golden light. At my house we sat at the Formica table in the kitchen, drinking cokes.
And then at some point I felt moved to share with him my greatest treasure, Beezley. My mouse. I told him to close his eyes, and I retrieved Beezley from his cage in my room. Placing him gently on Ronnie’s shoulder, I told him to open his eyes. Just then Beezley’s little whiskers tickled Ronnie’s cheek and he looked down.
I’d never heard a boy scream before.
Before I could apologize or explain, my would-be love was out the back door, dumping the poor mouse upside down on the table and spilling the coke. The golden glow was gone. I sat motionless for a long time, watching Beezley lap delicately at the brown puddle of coke.
Finally I picked him up, tenderly stroking him, reassuring him with gentle words. It would be all right, I said.
Fortunately he recovered from the incident.