When I am feeling particularly powerless in my life, it often falls to me to play with a mouse. This phrase is not my own, but comes from a friend and I don't think it could be put more aptly. Imagine, if you will, a cat batting its paws at a poor defenseless creature. Not to kill it - because that would ruin the game. It's not so much fun to bat at defenseless things if they keel over on you. Then the game is done, and you have to put the corpse somewhere. (Shudder.)
I think there are a lot of women who play this game, and a lot of women who do it well, maybe without any real bruising. Maybe the mouse is enjoying it too, knowing that the exercise is doing it some good and they will escape fairly unscathed.
Unfortunately for me the mouse game has two ugly turns. (Maybe, this is because I have never been a cat person, thinking largely that they are assholes, making the comparison far too good.)
The first is that I have a masochistic mouse. Someone who either doesn't realize the point of my swats or doesn't mind taking them. In this case, the cat gets tired, but the mouse wants to keep on going. Imagine this scene : cat sleeping, mouse bothering them. Cat reachese out tiredly and deliberately squashes mouse. Then wakes up and feels really bad about it. Poor mouse.
Second is the mouse I'm playing with turns into a rat. If you are not as up-to-date on animal physiology as I am, one of the main differences between rats and mice (besides size) is ferocity. Broken down, where mouses's fight-or-flight mechanism is usually the latter, a rat goes for the former. Cat versus rat has an incredibly uncertain outcome, because the rat - although not favored in the Vegas odds - is more wily, more ferocious, more diseased and just as damned smart as the cat. Sometimes smarter, because the rat has years of toying with other cats and rats behind it and still coming out alive.
A rat bite smarts harder than anything. And unfortunately, tends to become infectious. Beware the rat. You think you have them, and they end up the victor, tearing off into other things while you're left nursing your paw. On a sidenote, New Orleans rats, coming in the size of large possums and known to eat babies, are definitely a threat that should not be reckoned with.
There's an even deeper dynamic as to why this may be harmful for all parties. Sometimes I do not recognize that I am, in fact, playing the cat-mouse game with a male friend. I have gotten in this argument with a friend, because to me the cat-mouse game is one of deadly attraction, which is at its base, entirely sexual. Not ones you have with guy friends you've known for awhile, would never sleep with, but have a tendency to get drunk and tell you that they love you which will throw the universe off for the 10 minutes you drive home from their place sobbing hysterically while thinking how simply life would be if you could just love them back instead of the rats. (Masochistic mice not included).
However, and somewhat fairly, according to my friend a "mouse" also includes the men you hold on the side as friends because you need to feel loved and desired and that there is someone else out there waiting for you if, for some reason, you were able to stifle your total rejection of them as a partner.
So, as a kind of experiment, I hung out with one of the alleged "mouse"s on Friday night determined that the dialogue and dynamic would not go anywhere near that. And, strangely enough, this determination defined the evening as being very un-cat-mouse-like. It was a pleasant surprise. Admittedly, part of it was because I was freaking out about some work woes, but the other was completely divulging (with the exception of this blog address) my new project and why. Which led them to divulge a similar project and why. And then some laughs, some music, some small talk and a suddenly incredibly disiciplined me - who knew she had a very long run ahead of her in the morning - saying "I'm done, can we go home?". I was home before midnight. No romantic talk, no weird deep moments, no odd silences.
I, the cat, had the mouse transform into another cat. And hopefully that will continue.