Mice, mouses, or meece

Here’s a question:

If your computer mouse dies, you tell the IT guy you need a new mouse.  But what if you need two?  Do you need two computer mice or two computer mouses?

Just wondering.

My mouse at school stopped working and I told someone it died and they had to think about it for a moment.  With me and mice, it could be a piece of technology or a critter.  The school mouse, it turned out, was actually a cable problem.  New out of the box, the cable was defective.  But, since my keyboard and mouse were as old as Methuselah and my computer is brand new, the new cable was replaced along with a new mouse and keyboard.  Whoo hoo!

Meanwhile, my car is eagerly awaiting a little trip to Jiffy Lube.  The maintenance light is on, but that is not what has me antsy for an oil change.  I need a new cabin air filter.  Last week I was blaming my hubby for the disgusting smell in my car.  I assumed it was the byproduct of his leaving his wet, fish-gut-smeared fishing clothes in the trunk of my car for a week.  Alas, after removing the offensive clothes, the smell in the car got stronger with each passing day.

My children, who remember a certain incident with our old minivan, know where I’m going with this. Yes.  It was a mouse.  Actually two mice.  Two tiny little dead mice on the air filter.  Who knows how they got in there.  Getting to the filter was not exactly easy. (Not that I personally did it.  That’s what husbands are for.)  John dumped the little mice (into the front flower bed, I fear, and I can hear him now thinking, “Hey, they’re biodegradable.  What’s your problem?”) and he flicked away the little nest they had made.  I sprayed the filter–and the interior of the car– with an extreme amount of air neutralizing deodorizer to tide me over until I can replace the filter.

As relieved as I was to get rid of the dead mice, I was also a little sorry that we found them dead.  They were just the right size for the baby black snake that Harper is now hosting in a lidded aquarium in his room.

The first attempt to feed the snake was less than successful.  We bought the smallest live mouse we could find at the pet store. I pitied it all the way home in the car as it stuck its little pink nose and tiny fingers out of the holes of the pet store box.  But when we put it in the cage with the snake, it was pretty obvious that the mouse was more than the snake could handle.  It completely ignored the snake and scampered about the cage while the snake made desperate attempts to strike at it.  I had visions of finding in the morning a live mouse but a snake dead from frustration.  We did find a dead mouse in the morning, but it was still just too big for the snake to eat.

Later in the week, I came home to find Harper and PopPop busy feeding a pinky mouse to the snake.  Pinkies are frozen newborn mice.  You thaw them but then have to jiggle them before the snake to trick the snake into thinking they are alive.  John bought Harper some really long tweezers for holding the pinky.  Harper did a great job of wiggling the little pinky and getting the snake to eat it.  Shelley refused to watch.  She is also grossed out by the box of frozen pinkies in the freezer. I don’t know what her problem is.  They are in a ziplock bag inside a cute little box.  It’s not like they are scampering around the pantry.

We also have a mouse in the first floor bathroom.  I bought it last weekend at the Christmas shop in Old Town Alexandria, VA.  I bought two, actually. One dressed up for Halloween and another one dressed for  gardening.  I could have bought a Christmas mouse but I was afraid of getting carried away.  But now I”m thinking that a Christmas mouse would  be perfect:  “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”  This mouse would never stir–it’s stuffed.

Oh well, we’ll have to do a Halloween version:

“Twas the night before Halloween and all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

That’s just wrong.  It rhymes, but it doesn’t feel like it rhymes.  Why is that?  Is it because Christmas has just two syllables and does a little alliterative thing with “creature”?  Or is it  because Halloween evokes images of Disney mice stirring a boiling cauldron of Cinderella soup?  Maybe it’s because Halloween coincides with that time of year when the field mice come inside out of the cold.  No quiet domestic scene there…it’s more like Nightmare on Elm Street as the little critters scamper from the fireplace to the kitchen.

It was surely a nightmare at my desk the day my computer mouse stopped working.  I was about a minute away from calling it a day when the cursor stopped responding.  Well, the computer cursor stopped responding.  The human curser was functioning quite well.  The next morning I left a sticky note on the IT guy’s door (I couldn’t exactly email him without a mouse.).  A trail of M&Ms led him to my desk, just like a real mouse.

In case you are still wondering… the plural of the animal is mice.  The plural of the computer device is either mice or mouses.  For you linguists out there, “mouses” is considered a headless noun, for which the singular form takes a regular plural ending.  A quick Google search, however, will reveal plenty of uses of the term “computer mice.” Some avoid the dilemma altogether by referring to them as “computer mouse devices.”  Those are the grammar weenies, refusing to take a stand either way.  Mere babes.  Pinky mice, if you will.  I say, feed ’em to the snakes.

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