I came up with the cleverest conversation starter, purely by accident. Just say this: “Yesterday, I found a mouse in my house.” I am telling you, the look of horror is universal, as is the likely story to follow. Everybody has a mouse story. Mine pretty much tops them all as far as I am concerned, but I allow the speaker to finish his/her story before I jump into mine.

I was home alone; my husband was up north with our son for a fishing trip. I am not afraid of being alone; in fact, I rather enjoy the quiet and solitude. But that feeling of peace was shattered when I went down to the basement to fetch some laundry. There in the middle of the room was a mouse. A very dead mouse. I dropped my laundry basket and ran upstairs. What to do? I am not only afraid of mice, I am afraid of dead mice. I debated leaving the mouse on the floor until my knight-in-shining-armor returned; but then I wondered, when does a dead animal start to smell? And then I remembered the dog, who surely would discover the mouse, eat it, and throw it up on the living room carpet. I decided to leave the mouse there and think about the situation, but not too much. Because just thinking of that dead mouse gave me the creeps.

I headed to the shower. As I stepped out of the shower, there was my reward. A dead mouse. The cat was thinking (despite my shouting to the contrary) that I had not noticed his magnificent kill in the basement. He needed to bring it up and present this offering to his master, in order to receive highest praise. I again screamed and hollered in sheer horror. Now, really, what does a person do when a mouse carcass is on your bathroom floor? I did what any sensible individual would do: I grabbed a pile of sheets and towels from the linen closet, and piled them on top of the mouse. Then I texted my husband to come home. Now.

 I took pictures of the mouse under its burial shroud, and sent them out. My sister and daughter were rightly horrified. My other sister told me I should just stop being a big baby and pick the thing up and throw it away. Whatever.

Here is another universal truth: women are more scared of mice than men are. I know, this is way-out-of-the-park sexist, but there you have it. Let me rephrase that: women have permission to show their mouse phobia without shame or ridicule. Men do not. Men are expected to be fearless in the face of rodents. 

Deciding to take full advantage of this unfortunate characterization, I found a man. It so happens that I went to church right after the traumatic event, and I saw James, this week’s usher. Lucky for me, he happens to live in my neighborhood. I asked him if he could just “swing by” and dispose of a mouse, and, of course, he agreed. How could he not? 

As James walked in the door, I handed him the plastic bag that the morning’s paper had come in, showed him the shroud, and turned my head. He picked up the ferocious vermin, chatting the whole time like I had asked him to come over and open a window. He may have been really afraid, but, like I said, society has taught him not to show fear in the face of a rodent.

 So, go ahead, tell your mouse story to anyone who will listen. I think mine ranks right up there, but then again, everyone has their own story to tell.