One year, not so long ago, I was cleaning the house.

The big clean, the Christma s season clean, when I spied something dark along the baseboard underneath the dining side-board cabinet. I assumed it was some kind of toy...a Hot Wheels car maybe. There's about 5 inches of clearance there between the bottom of the cabinet and the floor, I'm on my knees and an elbow, I reach down there and grab this thing. It's light, feels a little furry on top and a bit twiggy underneath. It could be ANYTHING in this house. I'm on t wo knees and my right palm at this point. As I'm doing this.... but before I can see the 'object ', I start to lose hope that it's some kind of fuzzy ultra-light Hot Wheels car or a derelict cat t oy, but this happened so fast the thought barely registers enough to dampen the blow. I get t his thing clear of the front of the cabinet, not by much, when I realize, and see.......uh huh.. .......it's a dried up dead mouse. I drop it right where my hand was when my eyes first recogn ized it... REEL BACK onto my knees straight up, look straight forward with my arms stretched out side ways and as I'm doing this......I scream. I mean, I scream through several breaths. You k now,..... I stop, run out of breath, inhale and scream again through four or five breaths. I'm tal kin' Raiders of the Lost Ark-frightened Explorer # 5-kind of scream. The kind of scream that they step back from in stages in the movies for effect - second shot an aerial from outside the hous e, third an aerial shot of the town, fourth shot planet earth from 250,000 mi. At the same time I s tart to shake my hands wildly with my arms still straight out sideways. Eventually I start scream ing with much shorter breaths. Still moaning, I begin to wildly shake my head back and forth i n a way that the loose skin on my face splashes against my jaw making that typical cartoon sound effect. I had freaked out. Old school style. I felt compelled to shake this off, the who le thing was totally involuntary. All the while my oldest son who is way more squeamish than I am with just about anything, is sitting closer to the corpse than I am and rem aining perfectly calm gazing at me with half closed eyes. Me, I felt the ex-critters dried up hin d legs grate on my fingers like it was trying to scratch me as I pulled it out of there, even th ough it was dead. the impact of that was imbedded in my brain. I couldn't look at it. I probably w ould have vomited had I not diverted my eyes, recoiled and screamed the way I did. The funny part of it is this.....well I guess the funny part is in a previous pa ragraph but, the thing is- if I had known beforehand that it was a dehydrated mouse carcass I could hav e picked it

up and it wouldn't have been so startling, no problem. But... I didn't know what it was, it caught me totally unaware. The second thing I thought was; I didn't know this behavior was actually natural. The screaming reaction, that is. I thought it was just stuff you see in the movi es....people overacting etc. It was cartoonish, typical of a Scooby Dooby doo carton. I had N O IDEA there was an actual human behavior precedent for those reactions shown in cartoons and mov ies. I washed my hands....thoroughly, then asked my son why he didn't freak out too, citing that I can walk towards him with the cat in my arms and he runs away screaming. He said; "W hy should I be scared? It's dead.". "Well, I wasn't scared.", I said, "I just freaked out becau se it startled me and disgusted me." I wouldn't have anything to do with it, my wife had to dispose of it. Which she did before I even got to my feet. -b

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