"Eenie meenie miney mo, catch a snackie by its toe..."
"What's a snackie?" asked my sister, Mason. "I've never heard of that before."
I looked at Mason and rolled my eyes. "Clearly, it's a made-up word. I needed to add a second syllable in order to make the rhyme work. MOUSES!"
Mason thought about this for a moment before asking, "What kinds of snacks have toes? Mice?"
"No," I informed her. "Well, they do but they're not on the menu tonight. There are two bags of treats up here on the island and a plate with some cheese. Some orange cheese and some white cheese. I'm trying to decide whether to go with the treats or the cheese and if the cheese, which kind."
Mason hopped up onto the island next to me and after snatching one of the treat bags with a claw, she jumped back down onto the floor. "I'd go with the treats," she called behind her. "Snacking on cheese gives you those weird dreams about Mouseland and the Canadian Cheese Consortium." Her voice trailed off as she headed into the family room with her bag of treats.
"No can do. The rhyme just eliminated the last bag of treats. Besides, I'm not sure Mouseland is a dream," I added even though Mason was now out of earshot. "Now where was I? Oh yeah, eenie meenie miney mo..."
After scarfing down several chunks of the orange cheese, I headed into the family room, myself. Snacking on cheese always makes me sleepy, you see.
"Psst... Cat. Psst... Cat. PSST... CAT!!! Are you awake there, Mr. Cat?"
"Well I am now," and I stared into the eyes of a little grey mouse. "What do you want this time?"
"Yeah, yeah, my assistance is required. Mouseland needs me again. Yadda, yadda, yadda. MOUSES!" I waited for the grammar mice police to chime in with their usual grammar lessons regarding the plural of mouse but heard nothing. Nothing but silence. "What's up with the grammar mice?" I asked the little grey mouse standing before me. "Cat got their tongues?"
"That's why I'm here, Mr. Cat," answered the little grey mouse.
"You mean a cat really did get their tongues? MOUSES!"
Again, nothing but silence. Truth be told, the absence of the grammar mice police was somewhat disconcerting.
The little grey mouse glared at me, pursing his lips, signalling his disapproval. "Follow me, please. I'm on a tight schedule."
I rose from the chesterfield, stretching first my front legs and then my back. After giving my head a bit of a shake and letting out a loud yarn, I obediently followed the little grey mouse. There was no use arguing as the mice of Mouseland are well known as being a rather persistent lot.
As expected, when we turned the corner and entered what should have been the kitchen, the air turned thick and hazy. Rainbow coloured threads swirled before my eyes and the space-time continuum was altered as the kitchen morphed into the great hall of Mouseland. But the hall was different, this time, for other than the little grey mouse who had come to summon me, there wasn't a mouse in sight.
"This way," the little grey mouse called as he led me down the center of the hall until there, right before my eyes, he disappeared in a poof of light.
"MOUSES!" I cried and stopped dead in my tracks. I inched my way forward, sniffing out the mouse's tracks and then, all of a sudden, a little grey paw reached out of nowhere, grabbed me by a whisker and pulled me in. I felt myself falling. Down and down and down I fell, picking up speed as I went. It seemed like I was falling forever and goodness knows how far I fell until finally, I stopped, landing with a thud.
"Ouch! Get off me, you big lug!!!" cried the little grey mouse as he struggled to crawl out from beneath me, looking a little worse for the wear.
"Sorry about that," I apologised. "Didn't see the floor coming." I stood and brushed off my fur. Looking about, I found the room to be empty save for a small group of mice, huddled around a table. I counted and found there to be eleven. "Eenie meenie miney mo, catch a snackie by its toe..." I stopped myself short. Probably wasn't a good idea to be talking in such a suggestive manner. I quickly changed the subject and asked, "So what's with the table of mice? Are they having a meeting or something?"
"Yes, this is the Council Chamber of the CCCCCGMPF and this is their monthly council meeting."
"The CCCCCGMPF? What the mouses...?"
"The Canadian Cheese Consortium County Council Grammar Mouse Police Force," the little grey mouse explained. "They gave themselves a name that would make them feel important."
"Exactly," sighed the little grey mouse. "But as you can see, they're in the midst of a meeting. They're discussing an amendment to the Mouseland dictionary whereby they would..." The little mouse stopped mid-sentence. "Hold on, they're about to vote," and I could sense the mouse holding his breath so I held mine as well.
"All those in favour," one of the grammar mice cried and I watched as eight little mice held up their paws. "All those against," the grammar mouse continued and the three other mice held up paws. "That's it, then. Eight to three in favour of NOT amending the Mouseland dictionary and changing the plural form of mouse to mice. "
"MOUSES!" I cried.
And as if echoing from the very council chamber walls themselves, I heard, "Mice, the plural of mouse, is mice." Oddly enough, the familiar sound of the grammar mice attempting to correct my grammar was somewhat reassuring.
"Ummm..." and I whispered to the little grey mouse. "They do realise that MOUSES! isn't meant to be the plural form of mouse, don't they? It's more of an expression, really. It's like... Uh... Well... It's just MOUSES! It's what you say when you're frustrated or excited or you just want to add a little emphasis to something. It was never meant to mean more than one mouse. MOUSES!"
The little grey mouse shook his head. "Sadly, no. They think your brother Nerissa the Cat invented the word to mock their love of grammar."
"Well that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," I explained to the little grey mouse, somewhat indignantly. "Nissy mock grammar? Why, he was a grammar fanatic! Nissy loved his grammar! He always made sure to use I and me correctly, not to mention lay and lie. And he never ended a sentence with a preposition. Okay, sometimes he did do that. Being a stickler with the preposition stuff can make a cat appear a little pretentious at times, if you know what I mean. But the bottom line is this. Nissy truly loved good grammar. He loved it almost as much as he loved inventing words and, of course, using run-on sentences which he freely admitted to doing, not ever denying it one bit. MOUSES!"
"Mice!" the grammar mice shouted as they stared pointedly at me. "The plural of mouse is mice."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," and I waved off the mice as I approached them. "Look, you've got it all wrong. Firstly, mouses doesn't mean a bunch of mice," and I held up a paw before they could attempt to correct me. "Secondly, look around you, you mice. This is the twenty-first century and the world is a-changing. All the major spell-checks on the Internet are accepting MOUSES! as a word and it's only a matter of time before Oxford and Websters do, too. THIS IS THE FUTURE. You have it within your grasp to be a progressive grammar council, leading the way to a new tomorrow. A tomorrow where the word MOUSES! is as acceptable as cream cheese."
The mice gasped in unison.
I saw I was making headway and so continued my spiel. "Listen up, you mice. We can all see you're just digging in your heels, here. Digging them in until you can dig no further. But do you know what happens when you dig in your heels? You end up digging a hole for yourself. A hole for yourself so deep, there's not getting out of it. You think that by admitting you're wrong about this whole mice versus mouses thing, you'll somehow be viewed as being weak in the eyes of the mice of Mouseland. But you won't! Owning up to our mistakes only makes us stronger. Owning up to our mistakes shows the world we have character. Resisting change is what reveals us to be weak."
I looked over at the little grey mouse who had summoned me to Mouseland and could see him smiling from ear to ear. Clearly my speech had pleased him.
Turning back to the council I added, "And now, my little Mouseland friends, what do you say we take another vote, huh? I think that sounds like a good idea." But the members of the CCCCCGMPF continued to simply sit around the table, stone-faced.
"Okay then, we'll play it your way," I said. Pointing a claw at each of the little grammar mice sitting at the table and with a gleam in my eye, I chanted, "Eenie meenie miney mo, catch a snackie by its toe..."