My mama was a small woman – just a little over 5 feet tall. And prissy! Lord, that woman was prissy! She wouldn’t leave the house without lipstick. She believed in good manners and “acting like a lady” – hands in your lap (gloved if possible), knees together, and absolutely NO cursing. She could give you the stink eye but hold it together in public even when she was mad as fire. The woman could also faint – always conveniently so that my daddy could catch her. (excuse me while I roll my eyes here….) She could also sew and bake – her pies were legendary! She could whip up a meringue like nobody’s business. She loved hosting – anything from birthday parties to sit down dinners – which she could do on the spur of the moment without going to the grocery store, no kidding! Mama taught Sunday School and Bible School – charming kids with her smile and storytelling which she perfected with the use of a felt board. She was warm, friendly, and generous with her time and energy. My friends liked her and so did I. She was a genuinely classy lady – a true Southern belle. All that said, there was one thing my mama could not abide and that was a mouse in her house. If she suspected such a loathsome creature was anywhere in the vicinity the woman went immediately to DEFCON IV. That mouse was going DOWN! Traps were set and bait laid without delay. And if she happened to SEE one scurrying about – well, God help that poor mouse because my mama went into Full Attack Mode. And let me tell you, hell hath no fury like my mama on a mouse! Forget jumping up onto a chair and squealing like a girl – which you’d think someone who could faint would do…..but nope. All her priss, sass, and class went out the window.
One fine summer evening my daddy had gone to the coast fishing and I had gone to the movies with my boyfriend. It was late – around 11 o’clock – when I arrived home to find all the lights in the house on which was unusual for the hour. My boyfriend wondered what could be going on and remarked that it wasn’t past my curfew. I said maybe it was a few minutes past but not much. We proceeded to open the front door to find my mama armed with the vacuum cleaner under one arm and a broom in the other, followed by my little brother (around 10 years old) wielding a bat. Mama’s face had that look of a Woman On A Mission. I was shocked into place. Boyfriend took a couple of steps back. Then questions and answers collided. I asked, “What?”
My date squeaked out, “Are we late?”
My brother shouted, “Mouse!” And I knew immediately what was happening. My mama never gave us a passing glance as she careened around a corner with her weapons at the ready. Boyfriend was shaken and bewildered. He could not grasp what in the world could be going on that had transformed the usually genteel lady he knew as my mother into this fierce Warrior Woman and I’m pretty sure he was expecting a warm welcome and the offer of a slice of pie and a glass of milk. But nope! It seems he had fallen down the rabbit hole and ended up with the Queen of Hearts who might at any minute proclaim, “Off with his head!” I tried to explain but he was unconvinced that he was truly welcome and beat a hasty retreat from the potentially violent scene. By the time I had bid him farewell and made it back into the house Mama had corralled the poor little mouse in my brother’s room. With the strength of an army my little mama had moved a chest of drawers into the middle of the room and now the terrified creature was left shivering on a baseboard in the corner of my brother’s bedroom. Warrior Mama deftly aimed the vacuum cleaner wand at the mouse and sucked him neatly and swiftly up into the bowels of her Electrolux. Then for added measure she grabbed one of my brother’s tee shirts and stuffed it into the tubing and hauled the vacuum cleaner into the middle of the Living Room where she could keep a close eye on it in case the unfortunate mouse might somehow escape Electrolux Prison. Mama then perched herself on the sofa where she continued her vigil – determined to guard her home against the evils of Micedom.
When my daddy arrived home much later he laughed out loud and chided her, “you don’t think that mouse is still alive and able to crawl out of there, do you?” Mama was not amused nor was she moved to feel any sort of sympathy regarding the fate of the trespasser. She said she was just “making sure” and her chin had that set about it to say she meant business. Daddy chuckled and took the vacuum cleaner outside to empty out the now deceased prisoner. Once the criminal was removed Mama resumed her role as Lady of the House – putting everything back into its rightful place and waving us all off to bed.
The next evening my boyfriend showed up for our date but lacked his usual confidence and was tentative on entering the house. He was greeted by my mama’s usual good humor and welcoming smile as she graciously offered him a slice of pie and a glass of milk. Later on he said to me, “I’ll tell you what. I sure wouldn’t want your mama mad at me!” I laughed and said he didn’t need to worry – he wasn’t a mouse.