Last night, my husband was doing a little electrical work. We’re getting a new vanity installed in our master bathroom with some fancy granite as a countertop. The new vanity is taller than the old one. The old outlet on one side is so low it would be in the way of the backsplash. Yes, we could have the installer cut the granite to fit the outlet, but we preferred the option of moving the outlet up on the wall.
I bring this up because at one point, my husband was trying to fish wire between those two small holes you see in the photo. There’s insulation inside the wall and sundry other things to block the cable from sliding easily from point A to point B. As he was struggling a bit to get the wire through, a memory popped up in my mind of a book I’d read (and re-read, and re-read) as a child.
I was maybe 8 or 9 when I first read it. Sadly, I can’t remember the title. It was probably published by Scholastic since I bought plenty of books from their school catalog. I hung onto the book for years, loving the story each time I re-read it.
In any case, the story went like this. A boy goes to the local pet shop to buy a pet mouse. But the mice cost more than he has saved up. He spots a mouse in the cage that’s missing its tail. The pet store owner agrees to sell the mouse at a discounted price (which the boy can afford) because of the missing tail. The deal was something like, Well, it’s 3/4 of a mouse, so you can pay me 3/4 of the price.
Thrilled, the boy takes his pet home. This is a particularly clever mouse and the boy manages to teach it to come when he rings a bell. One day he takes the mouse to where his dad, an electrician, is working on wiring a house. The dad is trying to push electrical tape through a conduit. Once the dad has that tape through, he’ll attach the wiring cable to it, then fish the wiring back through the conduit.
But just as the dad has almost got the tricky tape through, the pet mouse gets loose. When the boy reaches out to catch it, he bumps his dad’s arm. Now the tape is hopelessly stuck and Dad has to start over. He’s angry and tells his son he shouldn’t have the mouse at his job site.
The boy gets an idea–attach the tape to the mouse (I think it had a little collar or harness) and let the mouse pull it through the conduit. The boy will ring the bell at the other end to summon the mouse. Of course, the boy’s works, and the boy and the mouse save the day.
Why has that story stuck with me for so many years? I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s because the boy was the one who was the hero. It was his patience and cleverness in teaching the mouse that solved the problem. I remember also thinking how cool it was to have trained the mouse to come when the bell rang. I liked the dad too, who despite the frustration of having his son jostle his arm, gives his son a chance to try his plan.
As a side note, I identified with that little boy and wanted to be him. Even though I was a girl. The fact that all the heroes in books were boys back then didn’t faze me. It never crossed my mind that as a girl I couldn’t be as heroic.
So what childhood books have stuck with you? The ones that your mind returns to at odd times, the ones that still make you smile? Extra special credit if anyone can come up with the title and author of the book I described.