Village Life: If a mouse could take a shower, what does a naked guy do?

By Tom Travis

Both the mouse and I were upset with the positions we found ourselves in. I flipped on the light inside my shower and turned the water on as I’ve done every morning. But this morning a mouse scampered across the bottom of my tub/shower. It was clawing desperately to get out of the tub. I jumped back with a startled scream. It turned and looked at me, I stared at the mouse. I could see his little mouse heart beating rapidly. I could feel my own heart beating rapidly. There we stood staring at each other —  me naked and afraid.

In a nanosecond the options spun through my mind – grab the mouse and throw it outside (not in your wildest dream would I ever intentionally touch a mouse) so that option was out, get a container with a lid, put the container over the mouse and put the lid on and take it outside. Even the old trick from Bugs Bunny cartoons came to mind, get a broom and try to beat it to death. The flash of those ideas had zero appeal to me.

I calmed down for a moment. Took a deep breath and tried to map out more reasonable ideas of how to get rid of a mouse in my shower. How’d the mouse get there in the first place you might be asking. My house is over a hundred years old and I estimate my bathroom was remodeled in the 80s.

The tiles in the shower probably need to be replaced because one of them came off, leaving what I thought a miniscule hole into the wall. It’s pretty amazing mice can get through little tiny holes. And this was a baby mouse. I’m assumed the mouse was wandering through the boards and plaster behind the walls and saw an opening and thought, “Oh, I’ll try this hole.” Or maybe he came up through the drain. Do mice come up through drains? I don’t know.

In my 100-year-old house I have lots of mouse traps set at key locations, high mouse trafficked areas, in my house. There are more mouse traps stacked in the closet. I grabbed one and put some Swiss cheese I’d bought from Aldi the previous night, not Queen’s Provisions type of cheese. Usually I slop some peanut butter on mouse traps, but no peanut butter in my cupboard that day.

Still naked and afraid, I had tried to start this shower about 20 minutes before I had to be somewhere. I didn’t have time to get the mouse, get ready and not be late. So I took an old fashioned sponge bath with a washcloth and my bathroom sink. For then, it would have to do.

As I washed up, my mind was still spinning with ideas of how to get rid the mouse in my shower. By the time I got ready to leave I decided I’d leave the triggered mouse trap in the shower for now and see if my mousketeer buddy would take the bait. My plan was that the mouse would get hungry, try the Swiss cheese from Aldis and SNAP!

I kept thinking, if I was a real man I could get this little baby mouse out of my life. You know, just grab the tiny bull by the horns — or mousie ears — and take it down. But as I stood there in my 190 pounds of nakedness, heart racing, mind spinning with ideas, I got so mad I was made to feel vulnerable by this creature that didn’t even weigh a half a pound.

A friend gave me some mice advice once, “remember, they’re much more afraid of you than you are of them.” Wrong!

I left the house for the day with mouse and swiss cheese in my shower. I was gone for about three hours. Came home for lunch and did a mouse check. The trap still had the swiss cheese on it and the mouse, in a rather cute way, was curled up in the drain sleeping. I kicked the side of the tup to wake it up.

I went into the kitchen to make my lunch again, ruminating over ideas of how to get rid of the mouse. I chopped and mixed my lunch and then thought of a plank of wood I had in the utility closet. I figured I’d put the wood plank in the shower with one end touching the floor of the shower and the other end extending over the top edge of the shower/tub all. The mouse could go up the wood and jump off. Would a mouse jump to the floor?

Then I left the house and went to some more meetings. Again after about three hours I returned home. I’m very good at compartmentalizing things going on in my life. While I was gone I had put the mouse dilemma going on in my shower into a compartment in my brain, not even thinking about it.

I trepidatiously walked into my bedroom then into the bathroom. Voila…No mouse. The trap was still set, the cheese in place. It must have chosen life by walking up the plank and diving off the edge of the tub. So that means it must be somewhere in the house. Which is fine with me. I have traps set all over the place, so his doom was certain.

I’m not a killer yet I’ve killed mice before. I’m a lover not a hater. And yet here I am devising a violent death for a cute little creature. I’ve always thought mice were cute. Except I’ve never wanted to touch one on purpose. But I’m not a fan of touching any animal. Not dogs, cats, horses, any animal. I feel like I have to immediately wash my hands after I touch an animal. I don’t hate them. I support animal rights but I just don’t want the animals touching me.

Mice are cute in every other context, in photos and cartoons, but not in the context of running around in my shower.  But now that I had washed up, gotten dressed was my confidence built up? No, I was a 190 pound man, dressed — but still afraid.

These little critters really know how to dominate a story.   When you’re sitting at home and see a mouse dart along the wall it’s startling. I was in a church once when a mouse decided to dart across the church rather than along the wall which is their usual path. A woman happened to be looking down and saw it dart across her foot. She let out a scream and a jump during the sermon. In a different church a mouse started climbing the wall behind the preacher while he was preaching. The congregation started chuckling. The mouse would get up so high then fall back to the floor behind the choir loft. Then the mouse would head up the wall again, fall, and start again. After about the third time this happened the congregation was not paying attention to the preacher anymore but laughing at the spectacle behind him. Finally someone spoke up and said, “Reverend we’re not laughing at you,” then explained what was going on behind him. A brave congregant went up and chased the mouse back into the walls of the church.

I was shocked to learn that the lifespan of the common mouse is about one year. In my house around October the mouse traps go out en masse. As the outside temperatures dip the mice seek warmer surroundings. I’ve caught 12 mice once in a Fall/Winter season. Last year was the a low year only catching about eight or nine during the cold months.

According to the National Institute of Health, about 95 percent of all animals used in research are mice and rats and about 120 million mice and rats are used each year for various experiments.

Before you begin to think that I’m some kind of filthy person to have so many “mouse” experiences in my life I’m, in fact, a rather well groomed and neat person and I generally do not live in filth. But as I said, I live in a 100-year-old house. Old houses, no matter how fancy, are likely to have a mouse inhabitant. And as they say, where there’s one mouse there’s usually ten more.  Even the most elegant homes have mice. A 2017 Time magazine article unearthed hundreds of work orders from the White House for an apparent infestation of mice, ants and cockroaches throughout the presidential mansion. The White House! — that’s an image too delicious to ignore.  If there’s a pest in the White House, as humans, we just head to the voting booth to get rid of them. But apparently the staff has to deal with the real-life vermin.

Over the years after living in many really old houses I’ve learned some tricks that really work at deterring mice from being present in my life. Honestly, I know they’re there, but as long as I don’t see them I’m happy. One great trick is stuffing steel wool into holes where mice escape into the walls. Mice chew through about anything but they won’t chew through steel wool.

I kind of felt like “MacGyver” by putting that wood plank in my shower to allow for a humane exit from the shower. While feeling humanitarian-like I felt emasculated because I couldn’t bring my self to just physically get rid of the mouse in my naked and afraid state. Every ‘mouse’ experience I’ve had builds on the next one. I’ve learned new ways to keep these critters out of my life. But they keep coming back. For sure, mice are here to stay. Now it’s time for me to get dressed and head to Aldi.

EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at

Author: Tom Travis

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