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March 8, 2015 | by  | in Editorial | [ssba]

Of Mice and Me

Let me tell you about some rebels I know.

A few months ago, I found the first one in my printer. I was sitting, watching Marvel films to numb the pain of my meaningless public-servant existence, and suddenly my printer started making scrabbling noises. This was odd, because it was an HP printer and, thusly, had broken almost as soon as I had bought it.

When I opened the printer, there he was—small and dark, peering up at me with gleaming eyes. He scarpered into the corner and through a hole in my window-seat that I never knew existed.

As one is meant to do in these situations, I set traps for my mousey companion, but he licked them clean, evading death with the ease and cunning of a rodent Spiderman. One morning he set off the trap and got caught. From my bed I heard squeaking and thumping as he grappled with his wooden foe, and I eventually got up to investigate and, perhaps, put him out of his misery. But by the time I hauled myself up he had miraculously escaped, seemingly without a scratch. With my peanut butter supplies steadily dwindling, I slowly became reconciled to the possibility that this would be a visitor of the long-term variety.

I decided to name him. I wanted a name that combined the sinewy cunning of a ninja with the kind of boho-chic charisma that would lead a man to squat inside a disused office appliance, so I went with Colin.

I would sometimes hear Colin scrabbling around at night, but by and large he was a quiet and tidy room-mate. Unfortunately, he had to die.

The snap came early one evening. I was eating dinner in front of my computer and, unbeknown to me, Colin had crawled out of the window-seat to dine alongside me, enjoying his daily peanutty feast.

Mousetraps are meant to be quick and clean—a fast neck break and it’s over. This particular trap had so far served only to brutalise my fingers and double as Colin’s dinner plate. When it finally earned its $2.99 pricetag, it misfired spectacularly, coming down on Colin’s skull and crushing his tiny head. Blood pooled on the (thankfully wooden) floor.

I cleaned him up, posted something glib on Facebook, then watched Marvel films and felt bad.

A couple of weeks ago I got a new roomie, whom I have, inevitably, dubbed Colleen. Colleen lacks Colin’s panache, and sadly she doesn’t share Colin’s surrealist attitude toward contemporary sustainable architecture.

Colleen is Colin’s bogan Christchurch cousin. Her schtick doesn’t involve repurposing hubs of industry as hipster hangouts. Colleen does laps.

The other night I was doing my ironing because I’m now, technically, in my late 20s, and Colleen completed a full lap of the room. Then she did another lap. Then she hid in the window-seat.

That night I reset the murderous trap with some trashy peanut butter, because Colin had cleaned me out of the good stuff. Colleen polished it off, and celebrated with a lap.

Colleen poses me a dilemma. Should I slaughter her as I slaughtered Colin? Should I let her lap the room to her heart’s content? Or should I, as in fact I have done, bung up the hole in my window-seat with some plastic bags and a cork that was lying around after this one time when I drank a really pretentious beer and didn’t tidy up afterwards? It’s a poser.

Sometimes I hear Colleen trying to pick her way through the improvised barrier with which I’ve entombed her. I hope there’s another way out, just not into my room. I’m writing this on Thursday. If she’s still there by the weekend, I’ll allow her back in, give her some peanut butter and let her do some laps.


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