El Guapo in DC

I am El Guapo. The most Guapo man in all of DC. Mucho Amor

Monday, February 26, 2007

The rat, the hammock and memories

Today, I saw a mouse stuck in a trap. It was a small mouse; about half the size of a thumb. It was a humane trap. One that didn’t kill the mouse with a metal snap, but simply used glue to render the mouse immobile. The mouse doesn’t die instantly. It starves to death. It seems starvation is more humane.

One afternoon, when I was young and innocente, I lay with mi madre on a red hammock enjoying a rare summer breeze. When I lay in the hammock with mi madre, nothing was wrong with the world.

There suddenly was a commotion and I saw several of my cousins run with broom handles. There had been a trespasser.

I stood up to go and see, but mi madre held me back.

“El Guapo, stay here.”

Mama, I want to see what they’re doing.

“El Guapo, stay here with your madre. It’s a rat. They caught a rat. They’re going to get rid of it.”

I want to see mama!

My cousins. My older cousins. I didn’t want them to have any fun without me. At this, I escaped the grasp of my mother and ran to see my cousins jump around with their broom handles.

When I got closer, I saw the rat trapped in the corner among some shrubs that never really gave life. The rat went back and forth, wall to wall, side to side as the broom handles muffled the ground.

I will never forget when the rat made eye contact with me. It was only for a split moment, but there was eye contact. It was look. An almost human look. A look that asked why I wasn’t doing anything to stop this. I didn’t know. I didn’t know what was going to happen.

Just as quickly as I got the look, one of my cousins pressed the broom handle against the rat’s stomach and it squealed. It squealed and tensed up around the circular handle in a way that I have never seen before. It cranked its head up and squealed. It bit the handle with such force that it momentarily eased the pressure. It squealed a squeal that resonates in mi mind to this day. My body became cold and I took a step back as I looked at the smiling faces of my cousins.

Then, just as quickly as I escaped my mother’s grasp, I ran back to it. She had been watching me from the hammock. When our eyes met, she knew that I had seen pain and suffering. I had seen what mothers shield. I jumped into the red hammock and cried in my mother’s arms.

“Shhhhhh, Shhhhhh, Shhhhhh, it’s ok El Guapo. Mama is here. Shhhh, Shhhh, Shhhh.”

The look. I never did anything to help. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.

Today, however, I knew. I ripped open the paper trap and poured vegetable oil on the glue, dissolving it. The mouse was weak, not moving, but it came to. I took it outside and it disappeared amongst the bushes.

I know that it will never make the memory go away. Bad memories are meant to remain. I just hope happier ones will overshadow them.

Mucho Amor,

El Guapo


At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it takes a real man to have that level of compassion. God Bless *kiss*

At 1:08 AM, Blogger A Margarita said...

Yes, if only everyone had those same levels of compassion.

I loathe rats, and yet, you made me want to take him home with me and give him some TLC.

At 5:25 AM, Blogger P1P said...

A good deed. Why harm anything unless you are forced to? I'm glad to see your experience had a big effet on you.

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone that thinks animals are incapable of emotions and feelings are seriously disturbed. I have been around all types of animals my entire life and it is easy to see from the broad range of expression if the animal is happy, sick, irritated, sad, etc. Even my gerbils half close their eyes and relax their ears in a certain way for a look of complete contentment when I had them a particularly yummy treat.

The only truly mean animals I have ever observed are of the human variety.

Thanks for your story. It made me cry. You have a beautiful soul.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the above commenter.

Gracias El Guapo.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Rev. Brandy said...

You make me cry.

My brother-in-law is one of the kindest men I know. He never passes an animal in need. This developed from an experience he had at a very young age --- he witnessed a group of children killing kittens in an alley. It haunts him to this day. So, every time he sees an injured animal by the side of the road, he stops, puts it in a box and takes it to the emergency vet. He feeds strays. When animal control comes to trap them, he sets them free.

There is something about witnessing pain and and suffering that brands us and makes us more than we were. It drives us to do good in the world, making us compassionate and loving. Giving us a kind of understanding that those who haven't had those experiences don't possess.

My brother-in-law has that. And so do you. Blessings be with both of you for being the kind of men who are unafraid to show it.

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Kim Ayres said...

Of course the mouse will be straight back into the house at the first opportunity.

Last summer we had a problem with mice (see Mouse Slayer) so got one of those electronic plug-in-the-wall gizmos. Unfortunately it seems that we have a deaf mouse that has moved in.

Still trying to figure out what to do that avoids having to go through a process of finishing a mouse off when the trap doesn't do the job completely

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Eibel said...

It's a complicated world. I hate rats, but I see what you're saying.

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous angela said...

aw. that's sad, because i remember when i was maybe 5 or so, i found this little bald baby mouse (or other small rodent), and i tried to save it by putting it on a heating pad and feeding it milk out of an eye dropper. needless to say, it didn't survive.

i guess that was the first time i was really conscious of death. hm.


At 9:30 PM, Anonymous restaurant gal said...

When my son was about five, I had the TV news on as I was fixing dinner. A story was broadcast about a prisoner on death row, about how he would be put to death in 24 hours. My son was shocked, clearly upset. "Mom, did you hear that?" he asked. "The police are going to kill a man. It's okay to kill someone? Why?" I will never, ever forget that moment, as I stumbled about trying to explain what the death penalty was, in concrete terms, to a five-year-old. Look into the eyes of a child and you will hear the truth you tell, no matter what your political beliefs.

And for the record, I cried when my grade-school buddies shined a magnifying glass "of death" on the jellyfish they scooped out of the salt water river I lived near during the summer. "Just let them swim," I would cry. And they'd laugh at me.

I would have set the mouse free, too.

Best, The Gal

At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and yet wild things never feel sorry for themselves... (c)

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone else feels compassion towards mice too. Also, thanks for the vegetable oil tip. Last time I used a plastic knife to scrape the poor animal free from one of the traps placed in my building and then let him go in the woods.

At 4:08 AM, Blogger emeralda said...

yes it's a different world out there. weird, what is it that makes some boys feel joy in smashing snails and other's to feel compassion and pain?
I remember how I squealed 'dad dad there is a moth in my room'
'kill it'
'i can't kill a moth dad!'
'I can't either!'
my mom came and took a glas and a postcard and delivered the moth into the night.

to this day i have to pick up earth worms and save them from themselves when they come up at rain and crawl into the streets. sometimes it took me 20 minutes to get home. the street was short, but there were a lot of worms and even if i passed them i knew i would turn around just five steps later. lol. oh well. we're on a crusade, mi amigo, and i say, you never know whether those buddhists are right or not. we might be a worm next life.

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous mary.whitsell@virgin.net said...

I'm impressed with your ingenuity in using oil.

We used to use cockroach traps in Japan (called gokiburi hoteru -- "cockroach hotels") that were large sticky strips. One night a mouse got caught on one and my husband spent half an hour trying to free it. The mouse ended up with a little piece of cardboard on his tail and my husband got his hand bitten -- and now I read your blog and learn how we could have done it in five minutes. Oil! Why didn't we think of that?

Now we have a cat. . .


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