TRUE STORY: Of Mice and Men
It’s a great story—Of Mice and Men, published in 1937 by John Steinbeck. The story follows two migrant workers, George and Lennie, as they travel around searching for work during the Great Depression era. The title of the book is taken from the poem “To a Mouse,” published in 1785 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. It’s the story of a farmer who accidentally plows through a nest of mice displacing them and forcing them to find a new home. The famous line is “The best-laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry.”
I taught both literary pieces when I was an educator and I highly recommend them to everyone. (But make sure you read the English translation of the poem because the original Scots language can be a wee bit tricky. 😬)
My story about mice and men is not as inspiring but it’s mine, so here goes.
A couple of days ago while working in my home office, my sweet cat Wendy darted in the room. She jumped on my desk, walked on the keyboard of my laptop and wrote kjgl dlg algjaj; lk; skakl; lskd ak;akd/////////////, which I promptly deleted, and then she hopped down on the floor and ran under Mark’s desk. I tried to continue writing but Wendy scooted behind the draperies and began pawing at something. It was then I realized we were not alone!
I turned around to see the tail of something scurry behind the trash can. I moved the can and the thing ran behind the desk, as did Wendy. But she was too big to squeeze into the small area where our little friend was hiding. I grabbed a flashlight and crawled underneath the desk and saw a very large dark grey furry mouse-like creature staring at me. We both jumped and he ran the other direction. For thirty minutes Wendy and I played “cat and mouse.” The mouse was winning and I was growing weary of the search so I called Mark for reinforcement.
It was early morning and Mark was still asleep but I walked into the bedroom and said sternly, “MARK! WE HAVE A CREATURE IN THE HOUSE!” Being familiar with my tone, he jumped out of bed and followed me to the office.
“Get a towel,” he told me. “I’ll make it run your direction and you throw the towel on it and grab it.” And then he paused and asked, “Are you okay with this or does it make you skittish?”
“I’m fine. Let’s do it. I can’t get any work done until this thing is out of our house!” It took about 10 more minutes before Mark scared it my way. The monster mouse revealed himself and Mark screamed, “AAAHHHH!” (It was a big mouse!) I dropped the towel, grabbed it, and we hurried out the front door and let it go. We stood and watched it scurry away. Mission accomplished.
The next morning, while working in my home office, my sweet cat Wendy darted in the room. She jumped on my desk, walked on the keyboard of my laptop and wrote kjgl dlg algjaj; lk; skakl; lskd ak;akd/////////////, which I promptly deleted, and then she hopped down on the floor and ran under Mark’s desk. I tried to continue writing but Wendy scooted behind the draperies and began pawing at something. It was then I realized we were not alone! Again.
This mouse, however, was tiny, light grey, with little pink ears, and when he peeked his head out and saw me, I think he smiled. For thirty minutes Wendy and I played “cat and mouse.” But this little guy was quicker and smarter. So we both gave up. Wendy left the room and I went back to work.
Later on that evening, Mark and I were relaxing in the living room watching TV. And the little mouse walked in. “Oh,” I said to Mark. “I forgot to tell you. We have another mouse in the house.” We both jumped up and the game was on! After 20 minutes, we gave up. Mark found a mouse trap, globbed some peanut butter on it, set the trigger, placed it near the fireplace where we last saw the mouse disappear, and we sat back down.
Not too much later, the little mouse peeked his head out of his hiding place, looked both ways, and walked into the room. Wendy the cat and Maggie the dog were asleep on the couch, unaware of our visitor. So I think he felt safe. He walked back and forth a bit and then discovered Maggie’s water dish. He climbed up over the rim of the dish and proceeded to take a long drink. Then he saw the trap and walked over to it. He pulled on the trap, knocked it around a bit, and then began eating the peanut butter. When he was finished, he walked back into his hiding place. And I guess he went to bed because he never returned.
And now I truly understand Robert Burns’ line: “The best-laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry.”
I think I’ll name my mouse Mickey.