Oct. 20, 2000
DEL MAR, Calif. — It is a Snider family trait to be alarmed and even fearful of anything that creeps, crawls or runs inside the house, and hides under the furniture, so when our son Kurt spotted a mouse in his home here, he took it very seriously. He armed Barbara and me, ordered his wife Rory and their son Cole, 2, out of the combat zone, and declared war.
He gave Barbara a tennis racquet and me a straw broom, and told us to stand back and hammer the mouse when he flushed it out into the open. She looked at him closely to see if he was serious, and he was, and I knew he was. He’s a chip off the old block.
I told him it was a good plan, but that if I could hit a running mouse with a straw broom I’d probably be playing in the World Series. I said a better plan was to set a couple of traps and go to bed. He told me he didn’t have any traps, and that if I was too chicken to take on a mouse I could retreat to the rear with the non-combatant women and children.
To humor him, I stayed, hoping the mouse wouldn’t run up my pants leg. Barbara went on a scouting mission, thinking she was Audie Murphy or maybe Joan of Arc. But on her hands and knees, with total disregard for her own safety, she spotted the mouse behind the divan.
She made a move to get him to run out where yours truly, Duke Snider, could take a swing at him, but he ran under the divan and stayed. So far, the mouse was clearly winning the battle.
Meanwhile, Rory was in the nearby hall, laughing and taking pictures of the action. Cole was laughing and jabbering away, rooting for the mouse.
This irritated the commander in chief, and for a moment we feared it might lead to severe disciplinary action, but our leader settled for confiscating the camera, and demanding that she show proper respect for authority.
He then returned to the divan, actually a big, solid sleep sofa, and grabbed the back of it. He turned to me and Barbara and told us to get ready, and when he turned the thing over, and the mouse was exposed to let him have it. She looked at me, but I looked back, saying, “Don’t look at me. He’s your son, too.”
With a mighty yank, Kurt pulled the sofa forward and onto its arms, giving us a clear view of the hiding place. But there was no mouse. He had outsmarted us.
Barbara again reconnoitered the area, examining the bottom of the sofa, making sure our crafty prey hadn’t found refuge in the springs and frame and upholstering. She again showed uncommon valor in approaching what could have been the enemy’s bunker, but he had fled.
Just as defeated generals do not discuss the arts of war, generals who have been outwitted by a mouse finally admit defeat. Kurt drove to the supermarket and came home with four mousetraps, enough to kill a battalion of mice. Rory, sharing the general’s disgrace and loss of face, helped him load the traps.
But the story has a happy ending. Just before she retired for the night, Rory saw the mouse come out from under the sofa, ignore a couple of traps, and go into the kitchen. She moved both traps, putting one on each side of the refrigerator. Next morning, one held the dead mouse.
Kurt had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and was pretty smug about it. He didn’t even ask who had possessed the military brilliance to move the traps, and Rory didn’t bother to tell him.
I shook hands with him, and told him I was proud to know that no mere mouse was going to outsmart any son of mine.
Kurt, Rory and Cole moved into this Del Mar house earlier this year. It’s a couple of miles down the historic Coast Highway from their previous residence in Solana Beach, and they’re saying now they hope this is their last move. They have twice the space, on a dead end street two blocks from the ocean, so it’s not a bad place to settle down.
When they’re not chasing mice, or working in TV production, they’ll be raising Cole, and he has reason to say now it probably doesn’t get any better than this. He leads a pretty good life.
Most mornings, he’s up early and he and Kurt go to a bagel shop where Kurt drinks coffee and reads the newspaper while Cole has attention lavished on him by the women who run the place. And every afternoon, between nap time and dinner time, Cole spends an hour or so at the beach with one or both his parents, or a baby sitter.
Still, he is not fatheaded or too badly spoiled. The other day, I asked a question and Kurt said, “You’ll have to ask the knucklehead.”
“Who’s the knucklehead?” Barbara asked.
“I’m the knucklehead,” Cole said.
Maybe so, but he can outgrow it, even if his daddy didn’t.