From the Head Coach: Just when you think you have life by the tail ...

Aug. 4, 2011 at 3:04 a.m.

By Lane Johnson

The setting was a Saturday night, about 10 p.m. It was dark. I made my way into the kitchen. As usual I didn't bother to turn on any lights. Didn't need to, I knew my way.

Only this time I had this primal feeling that I wasn't alone. Something was sharing the dark with me. Then I heard movement. I went straight for the light switch.

My uneasiness was confirmed. A gray, fury creature with four legs and a long tail was making its way across the kitchen counter. It leaped from the counter, darted across the floor, and disappeared under some furniture in the den.

Was it a large mouse or a small rat? Somehow that seemed to make a difference.

Until, that is, I realized that neither option, when played in my mind, did anything to lessen my fear.

Oh come on. Admit it. Those little rodents scare you too.

I tiptoed carefully into the den. The only thing worse than seeing a rodent is not knowing where it is anymore. I immediately ran out of the house.

Before you judge me, I wasn't running away. I went out to fetch my trusty cat, Jake. Jake is a hunter. I once watched him eat a squirrel. Who better to hide behind than that?

But to be on the safe side, I also grabbed a broom on the way.

With my kill cat in one hand and a broom in the other, I went back in.

For added insurance, I also alerted my wife who joined us in the den. It took some coaxing, but Jake finally caught the scent and focused on a small cabinet with drawers.


I started slowly pulling out drawers. There were four of them. The third drawer was half way out when the rodent made a break for it.

Jake took out in hot pursuit. I started swinging the broom. And my wife jumped on the couch.

This same sequence of events repeated itself three times as our unwanted guest darted from under one piece of furniture to another.

Finally, it headed toward the kitchen and I watched it disappear into the pantry with Jake close behind. All was quiet for a while.

Soon Jake came prancing out with his catch in his mouth. I praised him loudly and escorted him to the door. Before we got there, however, Jake dropped the thing. Back under the stereo cabinet it went.

Or so we thought. Jake kept eyeing one of the speakers. There were two small openings in the front panel of the speaker. It was quite possible the rodent found safety inside. I shook it and turned it every which way but there was no evidence of movement or noise.

To be on the safe side, I disconnected the speaker and took it outside.

My wife and Jake continued to search the house while I meticulously dismantled a very nice stereo speaker. After removing several delicate parts, there it was inside the speaker box.

This time I ran back into the house. To get Jake, of course. I showed him the speaker with its contents, put him down, and slowly tipped the box over.

Off they went. Rodent and cat. Off the patio, across the yard, disappearing into the darkness. I have no idea who won that race.

With much relief, I went back indoors. The house looked like we had been robbed. Everything was in disarray. It was late. We decided to worry about it in the morning and went to bed. Both of us lay awake for awhile.

You know, it's humbling to get this far in life having courageously faced adversity after adversity with relatively good results, and achieving a growing sense of confidence in your ability to learn, adapt, and overcome, only to watch it mean absolutely nothing in the presence of a defenseless little mouse. Maybe that's good for us once in a while.

I think it was a rat.

Lane Johnson, M.Div., LPC, is a licensed counselor. He welcomes your comments. You can contact him by e-mail at



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