I think I love the mouse in my apartment.
It’s not the love between a man and a woman, exactly, because I don’t know its gender. But it feels right.
It is a forbidden love, frowned upon by the world, and it is a love brought about by fate: Of all the drywall joints in all the townhouses in all the world, it chewed into mine.
And if loving something means wanting it to be free, then I’ll squeak it from the rooftops — I love my mouse.
Don’t misunderstand: I realize that mice are disease-ridden vermin, which is why Mickey always wore white gloves — for safety’s sake.
I’m aware that it’s hard to endorse a creature that has used millions of years of evolutionary knowledge to perfect the art of pooping on your counter top.
And, personally, I’m annoyed that the little guy can find enough food in my apartment to survive even though I can’t seem to, no matter how many times I open the fridge.
But, despite all that, I must love the mouse.
Why? Because I can’t deal with the alternative.
As a journalist, I often worry that I’m jaded. Cover enough accidents and murders and Vic Toews, and eventually you get so cynical you can talk like this to a stranger: “I know this is a difficult time, but how did you FEEL when your dog fell into the thresher? Oh, don’t cry. Please wait until the camera gets here.”
But that worry evaporated last winter. I had a mouse back then, you see.
And so I bought glue traps, because the packaging said it was “humane” and it showed a cartoon mouse looking annoyed in the glue, as if it were going to miss its dinner with Speedy, Mickey and Mighty. Why, this was going to be fun!
Well, I don’t want to get too gruesome about what happened, but the Gadhafi family would have been appalled. While the mouse squeaked at the same volume as the girl being eaten at the beginning of Jaws, I frantically ran outside with him, promising freedom.
I poured water on him — that’s what the packaging said to do — and watched hopefully (run little buddy!) as he stopped moving entirely. Yes, I waterboarded the mouse.
And as I stood over his lifeless body, I vowed then and there that I would only love all the helpless rodents of the world. So, as you can see, I need to love the new mouse.
And if I must kill him, I will at least talk to its family, using all my compassion and empathy. Because I know this is a difficult time.