Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Better Mousetrap

Talk about building a better mousetrap.

Over a week ago now, I spotted a mouse in our garage. Or I spotted half of a mouse, the back half, as it scampered out of my sight. I then made the mistake of telling my wife, who promptly sprung into lockdown procedure.

“If that mouse gets into the house,” she announced, “we’re moving.”

First, she opened the two garage doors open and kept them open, hoping that the mouse would skedaddle out.

Then she sent me out to buy mousetraps. When I returned home, I saw that she had affixed a sign on the door that leads from the garage to the house. The sign read: “Do Not Open! Use Front Door!”

Now I don’t know if anyone out there has ever tried to set a mousetrap, but it requires a precision usually reserved for heart surgeons. You have to pull back this rod while simultaneously holding down a cheese-shaped platform—which in itself is not so hard, but the whole thing is so ridiculously sensitive that the moment you move your finger away, it snaps. On said finger.

At least a dozen times I tried to set just one of the mousetraps. And a dozen times it snapped, either on my hands or out of them, as if alive. I just couldn’t do it. Plus, my fingers were coated in peanut butter, which I had dutifully spread on the platform-thing to attract the critter.

The whole experience soon went beyond frustrating into humiliating. As I finally closed our garage doors for the evening, I truly felt the mouse had beaten me.

Next morning: I was leaving for work, and I went out the front door to get to the garage. (Remember, per my wife’s sign, we were forbidden to go right into the garage from the house.)

So I’m standing at the garage door, and I’m about the press the buttons on the keypad to open it when I notice something. Something brown against the white garage door, like a leaf or something.

I took a closer look. Then I went back inside to wake up my wife.

“I found the mouse,” I told her. Or more accurately: I found half the mouse.

To get the full sense of this, you need to picture in your mind a garage door. You know how garage doors appear flat, but they’re made up of several panels? And these panels separate slightly when the garage door rolls upward or downward? Are you picturing this?

Now picture a dead mouse trapped between two of those panels. Or more accurately: picture half a dead mouse, the front half, including the head and two front legs. The back half, meanwhile, has been crushed in between two panels.

(I realize it’s hard to describe this in words. In fact, I was contemplating taking an actual picture of the dead mouse, stuck in the garage door. I know posting the picture along with the story probably would have generated some hits. But I somehow thought PETA wouldn’t look too kindly on me plastering on the Internet a picture of half a dead mouse.)

I’ve tried to do the CSI thing and piece together what happened. The best I can imagine is this:

Remember, we had kept the garage doors open for several hours, in the hopes the mouse would run out. Somehow, during that time, the little guy made its way to the top of the garage door while it was open.

Now, I don’t know much about mice, but getting up to the ceiling of a garage is pretty impressive, right? I mean, did he scale walls? Is this Spider-Mouse or something? Beat that, Stuart Little! As I said: pretty impressive.

In the smarts department, though—not quite as impressive. Because when I closed the garage doors for the night, and the ground started moving under its feet, Spider-Mouse didn’t move.

And keep in mind: I have automatic garage doors, which don’t exactly move with the speed of a guillotine. But for some reason, the mouse didn’t move, even as the panels beneath its feet opened up. And then closed again, trapping and then crushing him.

There you have it: the world’s tallest and slowest mousetrap.

So, to all the people in Internet-land, the next time you find a mouse in your garage, don’t waste your time buying ineffective (and painful) mousetraps. Instead, just wait for the mouse to kill itself by getting itself caught in the flaps of your slow-as-molasses garage door.

Works every time.

1 comment:

Crow said...

That is a fantastic story, but I must question your use of the word "Ineffective." Those mousetraps, while difficult to set, are the most effective things ever. I've used actual complex machines that don't work as well. I have a 100% success rate. The key? Nutter-Butter peanut butter. I once caught two at once with one trap. Gotta be some kind of record.