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Madeleine Begun Kane

It was a classic scene, with a twist. Mouse scampers across the room. Woman leaps out of its path. And husband hurls himself onto the couch to join her.

There we cowered in our 400 square foot country cottage -- two well-educated, otherwise rational adults held hostage by a beast no bigger than my thumb. And debating what we'd do and who'd do it.

In these post-feminist times, my husband Mark and I divvy up jobs in a reasonably just manner. We understand that no task is inherently male or female and we assign ourselves chores compatible with our skills, likes, dislikes, and simple fairness. Mouse hunting, however, had never come up.

But I was equal to the challenge. After our shrieking had subsided, I said "You're the man. You do it," thereby undermining decades of feminist progress. Mark whimpered for a while and then posed a compromise: One of us would set the traps and the other would dispose of the carcass.

Then it hit us -- the mouse had bounded into our bedroom and hadn't come out. It was almost midnight, we were miles from civilization, and we were more likely to build a better mousetrap than to buy one before morning. Our choice was clear: brave the bedroom or crouch on the couch until dawn.

So, armed with the pole end of a broom, we cautiously prodded sheets, pillows, and blanket, until we were convinced our mouse wasn't lurking under the covers. Exhausted and still a bit paranoid, we reluctantly went to bed.

The next morning Mark and I awakened early to the bright summer sun...and the lights we'd left burning all night. The weather was idyllic for outdoor activities, and it was our last day in the country for a month. But first we had to buy some mousetraps. No problem -- how long could it take?

Very long. Unlike their relative, the rat trap, mousetraps proved to be elusive. In desperation, after perusing the shelves of four far-flung country stores, I was tempted to buy the larger, more intimidating model. But a trap that size seemed ... well... like overkill.

We knew we'd left the countryside behind when we happened upon a hardware store the size of a supermarket. Overwhelmed by its dimensions, we asked about mousetraps and were helpfully advised to look in hardware. Finally, after a 45 minute search, I spotted the vermin section, conveniently located between auto supplies and jackhammers.

It was close to sunset when we finally got back, mousetrap mission accomplished. Mark set several traps, loading them with peanut butter bait, and injuring several thumbs in the process. Then we reluctantly packed for our drive back to "civilization." We were already looking forward to our next country sojourn. And wondering what we'd find when we returned in several weeks. Would we get our mouse? Did he have any friends?

As we left our cottage, Mark reminded me that he'd done his part. It was up to me to dispose of any mouse remains his traps might reap. Never, I thought, as I conjured up images of a shriveled Bambi-mouse ensnared in a trap.

But I needn't have worried -- one month netted us only a spider and two random bugs. I guess our mouse just doesn't like peanut butter. Or maybe he found his own way out. Or possibly... MARK, stop tickling my toes -- I'm trying to write. Mark, cut it out. Stop it right now or I'll EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKK!!!

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