It’s such a stereotype: a woman seeing a mouse on the floor, screaming, and leaping upon a chair. But women don’t really act like that, do they?
Not unless they’re sooks, anyway. Not me, anyway. I was always the one to leap into action with the well-placed jandal when friends leapt shrieking from the path of large crunchy cockroaches. Catch me screaming at a mouse! Hah! (And that one eep! when I was lying by the fire and opened my eyes to find mouse in cat mouth one foot from my face doesn’t count, so there.)
However… It would appear that my pose of superiority is not so well founded as I had liked to believe. Some time around midnight last night, our younger cat, aka the Kitten, brought in a mouse. This is not unusual: he’s a keen mouse-hunter and usually times his mouse-announcements for some time after we’ve gone to bed. (How he manages to be so loud with his mouth full beats me.)
I hauled my sleepy self out of bed, shut him in the bathroom – his favoured field of battle – and went back to bed. After some time, when the crashing noises had died down, my darling husband suggested I go check if the Kitten had finished his mouse and wanted to be let out.
(Why me? Because, due to the arrangement of our rooms, his side of the bed is more than twice as far away from the bathroom door as mine.) Not even pausing to put on a pair of slippers – an oversight I was soon to bitterly regret – I trundled to the bathroom door, opened it, and turned on the light.
Unusually, the Kitten did not come streaming through the door hotfoot on his way to a) another mouse or b) a good bath. I should have been warned. I was not. I cautiously poked my head around the door. No mouse on floor, no mouse remains (regurgitated or otherwise) on floor. No sign of mouse at all, in fact, only one cat. Sitting on bathroom stool. Staring at shower curtain.
“Why are you staring at the shower curtain?” I asked. “The mouse isn’t on the shower curtain.” I took up said shower curtain to fan its folds and demonstrate the proof of my statement to the unbelieving cat, and as I got about a third of the way through the curtain, the mouse dropped from remarkably high within and thumped to the floor. And then it dashed at my feet – which, as previously indicated, were bare to the night, the cold floor, and any passing rodents.
I screamed. Twice. Involuntarily. I did not jump on a chair, however, as the nearest chair-like object was a) mousewards, and b) already occupied by the cat. The unaccustomed sounds ringing through the house alerted the Caped Gooseberry to the fact that All Was Not Well in the hitherto routine bathroom-mouse scenario. He called out to me. I fled back to the bedroom. The cat, apparently oblivious to mouse-thumps and unmoved by my screams, continued to stare at the now mouseless shower curtain.
After some time – once the adrenaline tsunami had begun to subside, and armed with my trusty husband, not to mention a pair of slippers – I went searching for the mouse. It was not to be found. Anywhere. Eventually even the devotedly curtain-staring cat awoke to the realization that the mouse was no longer among those present.
I doubted that it would have negotiated the stairs by itself (skitter skitter thump, skitter skitter thump…) and the door to the spare room was shut. The door to the bathroom was catted. There remained only the landing (small, swiftly confirmed mouse-free) and…. our bedroom.
I will leave you to consider how long it took me to settle to sleep, with the knowledge that I was likely sharing my room with a frenzied rodent – what was that touching my head? Was that a lump in the bedding? and even the addition of a second cat to the bed – once he’d backtracked through the house to check he hadn’t dropped it somewhere – was not enormously comforting. (This is the same cat that once used my sleeping abdomen as a launch-pad to fire himself across a bedroom onto an unsuspecting mouse.)
At around two, however, there was a sudden sound of scuffling, and lo! the lost rodent was found and the bathroom protocol was once more carried out (this time with the Caped Gooseberry playing doorman). And once the Kitten had performed some extra checks, to be certain that no more mice had magically appeared in the bookshelf corner, I went at last to rest.
I would like to think that my reaction would have been less stereotypically vocal had I not had bare unguarded feet, but who can say? I for one will no longer be sneering at women (fictional or otherwise) who scream when they see a free-range mouse.