Dateland: To Catch a Mouse
Does anything test the strength of a relationship quite like bringing a third party into it?
Let’s say you and your partner have become a bit bored with each other, and you decide to invite another into the fray to spice things up a bit. A time always comes when one of you feels that the outsider has overstayed the welcome, and it’s time to give him or her the heave ho.
That’s what happened this morning at breakfast.
“Bruce has got to go,” my girlfriend said emphatically, as I tried to sputter an argument in Bruce’s defense.
Bruce is a mouse that has been living in our house since winter. This morning, while we were sitting at the breakfast table, Bruce brazenly sauntered up to the dog food bowl, and casually nibbled kibble, while we stared at him in amazement.
The dogs, which are terriers, and thus bark at the slightest provocation, shrugged in indifference, and continued chewing on their rawhides. Over the past few months, Bruce has become part of their pack. The dogs chase any chipmunk, squirrel, rabbit, or leaf impudent enough to enter the sacred confines of our yard, but they leave Bruce alone.
“But the dogs like Bruce,” I said.
“Well, I don’t. Get rid of him,” she demanded.
Around Christmas, when we first spotted evidence that a mouse had taken up residence, I immediately named the intruder Bruce.
“Why do you think there’s only one, and why do you think it’s a male?” my girlfriend asked.
“Because look at how particular he is,” I said, marveling at his snooty taste in snacks. He tore into only our finest cocktail nibblies, leaving the cheap chips and cereal unmolested. “I’m certain he’s a gay boy mouse. He has excellent taste.”
“Why do we have to name him?” she asked.
“To keep you from killing him,” I said. For months, this logic worked. It’s hard to kill something with a name.
For the most part, Bruce has stayed out of firing range. But, lately, he has become more confident in his stature in the household. He boldly scampers about, doing his important business of hauling bits of expensive treats to his cozy nest on the back porch.
We weren’t quite certain where the nest was, until we moved a trundle bed from the porch last weekend. There, under a comforter, we found both Bruce and his treasure trove of snacks.
Bruce had managed to haul at least a half-bag of dog food as well as hundreds of crackers and nuts to his little bachelor pad. On the sheet under the comforter was his toilet, which was, in a word, revolting.
At that moment, I knew Bruce’s days were numbered. He quickly scurried away, as my girlfriend cursed loudly, and tried to clobber him with a broom. I said that he’d probably leave the house on his own, now that we had destroyed his nest. She was skeptical.
Like any artful freeloader, he found a way back into our home. Now, self-assured and sassy, he was determined to live his life in the open, and proclaim his rightful place in our relationship.
“Either he goes or I do,” my girlfriend said, as Bruce finished off his breakfast by taking a refreshing sip from the dogs’ water bowl.
So, with a deep sigh, I began researching humane mousetraps on the Internet. As anyone who has ever been in a three-way relationship knows, when the fun is over for one, the fun is over for all. Then, it’s time to dump the exciting stranger, and return to your placid life, stronger in your commitment to each other, and more wary of the charms of interlopers.
Hey! I wrote a book. You can buy Dateland on Amazon.