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November 28, 2022

Oort Cloud Oddities: Weapons of Mouse Destruction

By Alexandra Queen

Our military is pretty gung ho about their 'Bunker Busters' -- low yield nuclear weapons that can be used to penetrate the reinforced hideouts of dictators, terrorists and repo men -- but I think they're taking the technology in the wrong direction. What they really need are trained vermin.

My father has a cool, calculating intellect and a calm demeanor that stays in place through any kind of disaster. When I was younger, I thought he was invincible. Mostly. Because even as a small child, when my parents were the greatest superheroes in the world to me, I was well aware of Dad's own personal kryptonite. Vermin.

No monsters would dare come out of my closet and eat me while my father was around. Big, ferocious dogs, loud, angry strangers or mean kids at school held no terror for me. But I resigned myself at a young age to the fact that if a small animal were to run across the kitchen floor with blood in its eye, I was pretty much on my own.

Still clear in my mind is the Day of the Bat. My mother had gone to begin reattaching the old wooden shutters we had taken off the big Victorian house we lived in at the time, only to discover that a bat had taken up residence in them. I watched my parents take turns approaching the shutters with a broom clenched in their fists and determination written across their brow. I watched them take turns running back into the house, hooting and screaming, every time the bat moved. It was a battle that raged for hours, one in which my parents retreated so much I wondered if they were reenacting scenes from France's military past. Finally, after several long hours, there was a great deal of screaming and my mother declaring loudly, "I am NOT touching it!" I'm fairly certain the bat's death was an accident, the tragic result of a man roughly 200 hundred times its size flailing a broom about with his eyes squeezed shut.

My mother was once called in to rescue him in the bathroom. Apparently a mouse had appeared at an inopportune moment. Every time he would reach for his pants, the mouse would take a step forward.

I know vermin can be trained to attack, because the mouse wasn't the only small pest to behave aggressively around my dad. I liked to have him help me catch bait when we went fishing down at the river because while the crayfish would dart away from my hands under water, they would lunge out of the water at my dad's face if he was there. In the house, any spider in the room was guaranteed to position itself above him on the ceiling and then just let go.

So why not use this to our military advantage? No need to bomb an entire mountain range. Bin Laden isn't going to stay long in a place where roaches try to crawl up his nose every time he attempts to go to sleep. Even now, Saddam and a hand picked bodyguard of elite troops could be sprinting through some underground halls, clutching at their pants legs and shrieking as a mouse scampers along in hot pursuit.

I suppose these images are fresh in my mind because I discovered my parents trapped in the house the other day. The reason? There was a dead mole on the front porch. One of the cats had obviously brought a snack to the doorstep and helped herself, carefully selecting her favorite bits and thoughtfully leaving the rest in case somebody else wanted some. Well, it was obvious to me.

"No," said my dad. "Look at the blood all over the porch. It was running from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was probably pounding on the door for help when the guy with the chainsaw came and we just didn't hear it in time."

"No," said my mother. "Look at the expression on the cat's face. She did it. The mole was probably running for governor and came canvassing door to door. That cat doesn't have a lot of patience for politics."

"Well, aren't you going to clean it up?" I asked.

"No," said both my parents. "But we'll hold the baby for you while you do."

Yep. If it's "Shock and Awe" the military is looking for, they need to think just a little smaller.

This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.
Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-10-20
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