Man Or Mouse?


Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬


[1] Alan Silvestri “Mouse Hunt Soundtrack Suite”

[2] Bruce Springsteen “Dancing In The Dark”

[3] Sia “Breathe Me”

[4] Blue Oyster Cult “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”



Talk about a no-brainer. I mean, it doesn’t take a pet detective to figure out that I don’t possess either a tail or whiskers. That said, I do have an affinity for cheese so perhaps the jury is out after all. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad, after all, some of the entertainment industry’s top earners are mice. Take Mickey for example, do you reckon he inherited the Clubhouse after Daddy Disney turned his toes up? Of course not, he paid for these digs with his own hard-earned cash and still had enough to pay for Donald’s bi-weekly elocution lessons. Talk about throwing good money after bad, ten sessions later and his buddy still struggles to say Walt Whitman without it sounding more like M. Night Shyamalan. Meanwhile, Minnie turned out to be little more than a cash-grabbing floozy and Mickey grew so tired of his significant other flashing the green sheets that he was left with no choice but to cancel her MasterCard. And don’t even get me started on Sneaky Pete as that bastard simply can’t be trusted. However, all things considered, Mickey does alright.


Speedy Gonzales isn’t short of a few bob either although he has been sweating it ever since Donald Trump proposed erecting that infernal wall across the Mexican border. Why recruit 10,000 restless natives when Speedy can have that shit built in an afternoon and still find time to stuff down a quesadilla? If you ask me, the little punk had it coming for chanting “Ándale arriba” at the very top of his tiny little lungs and has nobody else to blame but himself. They say that children should be seen and not heard and that evidently extends to vermin also. Why else do you think Jerry the Mouse has enjoyed such an enduring career in show business? Apart from the fact that his sworn enemy Tom couldn’t catch rabies from Cujo of course. The very moment he begins reciting E. E. Cummings in his very best nobleman voice is the same one where he winds up lining tomorrow’s kitty litter. Thank God for those smarts huh Jerry? That said, I do fantasize over the prospect of you eventually coming horrendously unstuck. Far too smug for my liking.


At any rate, while the above are exceptions to the rule, I’d imagine it would suck to be a rodent. Let’s study the facts shall we? The average lifespan of a free-range mouse is around a year, less if they don’t have their wits about them at all times, while their domestic cousins will be lucky to see their third birthday and that’s only if little Daisy doesn’t request a cat for Christmas. Meanwhile, they’re hardly brimming with confidence are they? Granted they may be able to fuck up an elephant’s afternoon with the faintest squeak but generally their own shadows can scare them into a state of catatonic shock and they’d never dream of saying boo to a goose. Admittedly geese are not to be taken lightly, particularly once they sense fear, but still I’d square up to a gaggle after one too many Jägermeister shots whereas you wouldn’t catch me knocking back the spirits with a mountain lion. Actually, aren’t they petrified of mice too? I’m sure that one’s a myth you know.


My point being that I’m more than content with my Homo sapien status and would feel dreadfully hard done by if it were ever revoked. I may be lacking the slender tail but that didn’t stop Buffalo Bill from making a spectacle of himself did it? You only need compile a list of the activities that we humans can partake in that mice are forced to pass up on to swing the vote our way. When was the last time you spotted a shrew playing Jenga? How many times have you caught a field mouse catching up on swingball practise? These are just a couple of the enterprises that we take for granted, yet we still bitch and moan about having nothing to occupy our downtime. All the while, our rodent buddies have a grand total of one hobby to keep themselves out of mischief and that entails waiting impatiently for the unlikely event that a bag of grated mozzarella might split. Even then, they still have to negotiate all manner of strategically placed snare traps and they don’t teach you about such perils in Mouse Academy either. Isn’t that right Mickey?..Mickey?


So where the bloody hell am I going with this enthusiastic rant anyhoots? Well bizarrely enough, this one’s all about the horror. I know right? Talk about a curveball. That said, the more I think about it, the more it makes as much sense as anything ever does in my tiny little mind. You see, I’ve checked myself from stem to stern and all signs point to being 100% man. Okay, perhaps not quite the full ton, but I am a self-confessed cat lover and proof doesn’t come more conclusive than that. Besides, my droppings smell funny. That’s all she wrote then surely. Man 1 Mouse 0. Let’s break out the Edam and get in a few pointless revolutions on the exercise wheel before bedtime. Job’s a good ‘un right? Not so fast my little chickadees as, unless I’ve gone gaga writing this (an occupational hazard it has to be said), things were about to take a far more tenebrous turn and the genre of horror was going to be provided a long overdue run-out. An agreement is an agreement after all and I prefer not to give my word unless damn sure I’m getting it back once you’re done with it so methinks it’s high time I knuckle down and break out the Sangria. Actually bear with me a moment as the missus just took her bikini top off.


Do you think now would be a good time to propose rubbing the lotion in? What I’m saying in my usual cockamamie way is that this particular man is more mouse than initially suspected. Let’s not roll away those cheese wheels just yet, I can be frightfully masculine when the mood takes me, and my “Grrr” is a thing of chilling authenticity believe me. However, despite dedicating my entire life to watching others come a cropper to masked madmen and prickly poltergeists, I still get a bronzed enemy at the gates every time shit gets real and struggle to make it through Jaws without first hooking myself up to an oxygen tank filled with Valium. So the Keeper of the Crimson Quill is little more than a wuss then? I guess so but flip it to reverse and I’m a whole caravan of courage. You see, at least I show willing to place myself in the position of having the skin scared away from my bones. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? Try telling that to Mickey after his fifth hit of crystal meth in swift succession.


In actuality, precious little sends chills down my spine. I’m not terribly fond of arachnids but, provided they’re not too chubby, will happily allow these scuttling nasties to share my personal space. Snakes I could do without if I’m honest; but they tend not to populate suburbia so rarely cause concern. B.A. Baracus may not have any burning desire to get on no damn plane but I’m fine to the dandy as long as there are no great balls of fire coming out of the engines. Extreme heights may get the blood pumping a little too freely for my liking but that doesn’t stop me being fascinated by the prospect of taking that parachute jump I keep promising myself. Fear of commitment didn’t deter me from exchanging nuptials a second time and, while it ended in a decidedly agonizing divorce, I’d still dust myself down for a third, albeit only in a different set of circumstances to being a pauper. Meanwhile, intimacy is all good and anyone who reads my work will be aware of just how open I am to the notion of laying myself bare for all to see. As long as I have myself a spotter or two, it’s all gravy.


The thought of rejection irks a little if I’m honest but not enough for me to go about my emotional business with anything other than maximum vigor. Public speaking fazed me way back but, since then, I’ve acted for camera and the thrill far outweighs the dread nowadays. As for the dark, well it pains me to watch a horror movie in anything other than blackout scenario so blind terror is something I mirthfully turn to my advantage. Unless I’m having one of my absent-minded days, that pretty much covers all bases, am I correct? Silly Keeper, how could I forget the most momentous of all known fears? This one is a doozy as, while common sense will prevail more often than not with regards to the notion of running into a needy anaconda on your daily travels, I hear that death is a considerably more troublesome turd to swerve. It lands in all our in-trays eventually and the moment #MickeyMouse starts trending on Twitter, you just know he’s cashed in his chip stack.


As a youngster, the prospect of turning all ten of my toes up petrified me to my squishy centre. My grandfather passed when I was eight and hardly qualified to understand the logistics behind his sudden absence. However, by the time The Grim Reaper eventually claimed himself a matching pair, I was well into my teens and recall thinking something along the lines of “I’m starting to see a pattern emerging here you know”. Regrettably, there is no getting around the fact that casualties will accrue, and nothing we can do to prepare ourselves for this inevitability makes a blind bit of difference so we the best we can hope for is to learn how to suck it up. Not that this is a walk in the park and I know plenty of senior citizens who still cannot help but look over their shoulders anxiously. Perhaps that’s why they soil themselves so much.


For me it all started to make sense around the time that I drank in all five seasons of Six Feet Under over an intensive three-week period…twice! I won’t spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t yet undertaken this particular pilgrimage (and your lives will be all the richer once you do I assure you) but let’s just say that I blubbed like I was six again and had just suffered a thousand knee grazes in unison by the time I arrived at its epitaph. These twin viewings bookmarked the most tragic event of my life as I lost my beloved father and I grabbed every last comfort I could from the knowledge that it’s just the natural order of things. Granted, the consolation was slight as I bid farewell to my most significant personal hero, but pops is sitting mere inches from where I’m seated currently so I guess it’s correctamundo what they say about the healing properties of time.


Then there’s the small insignificant matter of our own untimely demises and this is all the more bitter a pill to swallow, given that we haven’t the faintest clue what lies beneath the blackened shroud. Attempting to negotiate that poser will likely send you doolally so I make each effort conscious not to dedicate too many vacant stares to its consideration. That said, should tomorrow be my unlucky day, then I’d feel reasonably content that my life story would pad out a hardback. I’ve donated my fair share of gusto to the cause, given love and received that shit back, provided joy to others when not feeling exuberant myself, empowered those I cherish to live loud wherever possible, and lest I forget the real humdinger of gifting life to one particular little cherub whose flame will burn brightly long after I hit the kiln.


On a more upbeat note, I’ve gazed across the Grand Canyon in wide-eyed awe, shared a tandem ride across the Golden Gate bridge, swam with dolphins, contemplated licking a frog although I never actually went through with it, been entangled in the gossamer of a spider, woken up in a strange place, fallen asleep during important seminars, passed wind during important seminars, electrocuted myself through stupidity alone, burned a liquor store to its foundations courtesy of same stupidity, named a Russian hamster Hunca Munca, sat on my left testicle and instantly regretted it, taken a gondola ride with someone who would have preferred me to be someone else, had my heart fractured in Venice, had my dick licked in a cemetery, snorted Cheetos for the sheer helluvit, plucked up the minerals to have my miniscule nipple pierced, prevented a full-blown fist fight between a pair of rowdy pensioners, strolled the streets of my hometown stark naked at the dead of night just to feel something other than empty, inserted inanimate objects into my bottom, inserted inanimate objects in other people’s bottoms, sipped my own urine out of vague curiosity, and farted over 10,000 times in the bathtub without it ever once losing its appeal.


My point is this – I’ve had a decent enough run of things all things considered. Thus dying, while a tremendously inconvenient proposition, isn’t one that keeps me awake at night. Before you start scattering my ashes, let me just remind you that there’s life in this old dog yet and I’m thrilled that certain things still terrify me as fear is second to none for making you feel alive. That’s where horror comes in as it has all the tools at its disposal to prise me out of my skin. When I watched The Blair Witch Project way back in 1999, it did an almighty number on me, and it was six weeks before I could sleep on my back again in case the darkest recess of my room hosted an unwanted guest and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s all too easy to watch a movie and forget it by the time the credits roll. However, any piece of art that can linger long afterwards transcends simple entertainment and it’s what keeps me coming back well over thirty years on.


If there’s one thing that gets my billy-goat by its gruff then that would be so-called horror aficionados who laugh off anything even remotely unsettling. Is it merely an act of bravado or does the genre really leave you that disaffected? If so then you’re clearly in the wrong game and wasting your precious time. If the above revelations cast the deciding vote as to whether I’m in fact man or mouse then I’m only too happy to accept that hunk of complimentary cheddar. Just to make things clear in abundance, I’m a particularly manly mouse and don’t forget that “Grrr” either as it’s a thing of creeping dread believe me. Now you’ll have to excuse me as this refrigerator doesn’t appear to be raiding itself. Anyone seen that good-for-nothing tomcat recently? Don’t give me that “he’s behind you” baloney. Bitch this ain’t panto. I knew I shouldn’t have divulged my innermost secrets to you lot. Now you have got me scared.

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