Bill Klauber: Ciao! ... of mice, men and millions

Bill Klauber

Bill Klauber

Don’t look now folks, but the mice could be coming, the mice could be coming. By the millions.

Egad. Run for the hills. Kitty bar the door. Batten down the hatches. And send for the Pied Piper of Hamlin.

Naples could become the mouse capitol of the State -- even bigger than Disney World which can boast only of Mickey and Minnie and the Mouseketeers.

“Is it true?” my friend Joe asked me the other night. “Are the Commissioners actually importing mice into Naples?”

Well, I guess either importing or breeding, but certainly using mice for research.

“Importing, breeding or using mice In Naples? It’s the same difference. Besides, importing mice sounds like they’re a real desirable item like a Bentley or Rolls Royce or even caviar. And I didn’t know you had to breed them. I thought they just showed up. A year or two ago we spotted a mouse in our kitchen and next thing I knew Florence was up on a chair screaming and I was trying to chase it or export it, if you’d prefer, out of the house with a broom. She was so shook up I had to call an exterminator which cost a pretty penny. Now they’re going to use them here in Naples. Are they nuts?”

No, they‘re not nuts, but they are hopeful that they can attract Jackson Laboratory, already owners of hundreds of millions of mice in Bar Harbor, Maine, to come to Collier County.

“Attract. What’s to attract? Anybody in their right mind would want to move from Maine to Naples. How much are they offering us if we let them come here?”

Well, it’s actually the other way around. We have to invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to get them to come here. Apparently they are waiting for a commitment from the State and the County to each pledge upwards of $100 Million and then raise a like amount from private fund raising.

“You’re kidding. You mean I could get a call from a fund raiser asking for a donation to bring mice to Naples. I’d put that on my charitable giving list just ahead of support for the Taliban, Arms For Iran or a contribution to Mesa, Arizona to build a new Spring Training facility for the Chicago Cubs.”

The hope is that if Jackson Lab opens its facility here other biomedical and research companies will follow and create thousands of white collar jobs for the area.

“Yeah and it could kill the tourist industry. I mean what tourists would want to come to a community with hundreds of mice. People don’t like mice running around. They go to all lengths to catch them. You know, search and destroy.”

Well it wouldn’t be hundreds of mice. Probably more like millions, but they wouldn’t be running around. They’d be in the laboratory. But just in case, we could have a contest to see who could build a better mousetrap to contain them, I offered in appeasement.

“Very funny. But I’ve seen enough movies where millions of snakes, gigantic bugs or giant rats escape and threaten the whole community. Then they call out the Army and the Marines to chase them down and kill them.”

Sure Joe, but that’s science fiction. What we’re talking about is true science, I offered in return. Besides, they wouldn’t be running around. The would be housed in the Jackson Laboratory.

“I don’t like it. They could run loose and then we would have people running around trying to capture them. Why don’t we breed something local like alligators. At least you can eat them.”

Growing weary of the conversation, I thought I’d play along. Maybe you’re onto something there Joe. We could set up a separate breeding area to cultivate mice for eating. We could open a restaurant called The Mouse House.

“Now you’re talking. We could offer mouse stew or fried mice or a delicacy like frogs legs made from mice legs. And we could charge more for the mice we import. But the name won’t work. There already is a Mouse House. I saw it at The Phil last season, but there were no mice living in it.”

That’s ok Joe. That would be just like a cat house. I understand that no cats live in them either.

Ciao!

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