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September 6, 2008 Mouscapades (rated PG-13)

PG-13 Rating: Contains content that may give small children (or anyone, really) the heebie-jeebies. Consider yourself warned.

I have a mouse. Maybe more than one, but I’m going to stay optimistic and hope it’s just a single mouse. I’ve named it Stuart Little, in hopes that a name will make it less unnerving when I see him dashing across the kitchen floor.

I’m hoping to avoid poisoning him. I’m trying a environmentally friendly method of mouse killing (rice + bowl of water = mousie tummy rupture), but after three days of rice on my kitchen floor, he’s still not dead.

How do I know he’s not dead?

Because … (shudder) … OK, here’s the story.

I wanted to bake cookies. I like baking cookies. Loved ones have heard my pleas for cookie ingredients and have sent me brown sugar and chocolate chips (neither of which are available in Morocco). So I was prepared to bake cookies.

But I’ve been using my oven as a cupboard.

My kitchen doesn’t have any cupboards, and some of my food doesn’t fit into tupperwares (which *are* available here, lhumdullah), so I’ve been locking it into my latching oven.

I thought this was a clever solution to the mousie problem.

In order to bake cookies, I had to take the food out of the oven. So I pulled out the package of spaghetti, and the bag of rice, and the box of cookies. I’d bundled the brown sugar and chocolate chips and mac & cheese packages (sent by more loved ones – y’all are so awesome!) into a plastic bag, and this had been carefully wedged into the bottom half of the oven.

(I should point out that my oven is *not* a full-sized American oven. It’s more like a triple-sized toaster oven. It’s about 2 feet wide and 1.5’ deep, with a fixed shelf in the middle that divides it into a bigger top half, that’s maybe 8” tall, and a smaller bottom section, about 5” tall, which is the broiler. And since the oven has to be lit by hand, that means I have minimal clearance to get my hand under the gas jets with a candle and light each little tiny butagaz flame, one by one.)

The grocery bag of m&c etc was very full, and I didn’t want it to catch on anything and risk tearing its precious American contents, so I slid one hand under it to ease its path out of the broiler.

The bag felt lumpy in my hands, but since I knew it had several odd-shaped contents (such as the brown sugar and chocolate chips), this didn’t surprise me.

Supporting its weight with one hand under it and the other holding the handles, I carefully lifted it up to the counter top.

I set it down.

As I eased my hand out from under the bag, something registered as being a little off… And when my hand emerged, I was holding Stuart Little.

I let out noise somewhere between a gasp and a shriek, involuntarily dropped him four feet to the kitchen floor, and stood there shuddering as he scampered back to his hideyholes under the counter.

I’m still not sure whether there’s a mouse-sized hole in the oven or whether he slipped in there some time when the door was open and then got locked in, and has been biding his time waiting for a jail break.

I let my heart rate return to normal, then washed and Purell’d my hands, washed a few dishes to calm my nerves, and then set about the cookie baking.

I keep reminding myself that Stuart Little had a good 5-10 seconds when he could have bitten me, while I was easing the bag out of the oven and onto the countertop, and he didn’t. He poses no threat to society…just to any food not in Tupperware. So I’ll be getting more of that next time I’m in souq. Lots more. Big ones. Cupboard-sized, really.

Because I actually don’t mind if he eats some of my rice or couscous. Given all the baby mice I fed to my pet snake, I figure I owe a mousie karmic debt. But if that little rodent gets into any of my American food, he and I are going to have words…

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