Staring down the mouse that roared


I am decidedly a country girl from way back, but I confess to one odd trait that makes me look like a city kid in the biggest way.
I am absolutely, positively, no-doubt-about-it scared to death of mice. It exceeds rational thought. It blows my composure right out of the stratosphere.
Try as I might, I can’t seem to rise above it. I realize the stupidity of it, but can’t seem to shake this incredibly inane horror that a simple little creature can bring. Even writing about a scurrying mouse is setting my nerves in to the shuddering, squirming mode.
My friend Wendy was absolutely petrified of spiders. I could destroy a spider that was setting her in to panic attacks without so much as a single tingle up my spine.
She, on the other hand, would tease me to no end if a mouse sent me in to a screaming tizzy.
It makes absolutely no sense. I know that.
Scarred psyche? They say that we can usually trace our fears to some childhood turning point, a point which might have scarred the psyche in some deep way. One of my earliest memories is of my oldest sister, Sandie, jumping up and down on a chair, pointing and screaming, her high-pitched words making absolutely no sense whatsoever. It was a simple little mouse that had sent her in to such a frenzy.
Not long after that, I was horrified to see my typically calm and collected first grade teacher, Mrs. Kittle, a veteran teacher if ever there was one, open a closet door in our classroom, go running in the other direction as if she had spotted a nuclear bomb lurking inside.
I recall her jumping on to her chair behind her desk. She then climbed on up to her desk.
We all sat in our assigned seats with looks of horrified puzzlement to see our quiet leader in such a state.
Schoolboy heroes. Finally, some of those 6-year-old boys realized it was a mouse that had brought this panic to our dear teacher, and they chased it around in circles for awhile, eventually sending it flying out in to the great open hallway of the school.
Mrs. Kittle slowly came down from her perch, obviously shaken, and thanked those boys for saving the day.
From that day on, I found myself petrified beyond reason every time a mouse was spotted, my pulse rate pushing near the cardiac arrest level, filled with the irrational fear that the horrid creature might decide to try to run up my pant leg. I would surely die if that were to happen.
And on a dairy, hog and grain farm, there is no doubt you are gonna spot ’em! It was like a deep-sea diver being afraid of fish.
Hay mow hell. I remember the great feeling of trepidation in the hay mow after having lifted a bale to find a nest of baby mice. I think I broke out in a sweat, and I don’t remember my feet even hitting the rungs of that ladder as I descended in record time.
Extreme reaction? No doubt about it.
Bad critters. And yet, I remind myself and all the people who have ever made fun of me for this absurd and neurotic reaction, fleas on rats brought about the great plague that killed thousands upon thousands of innocent people. Ticks on mice can carry all kinds of nasty tick-borne infection in our world today.
And that’s the truth.
I think that’s what I was screaming as I spotted a mouse scurrying across the floor not long ago, but I can’t promise that’s exactly what I was saying.
I’m on my way to the mouse trap aisle, armed with a really big cart and a fistful of dollars. This is war.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.