Stories - The Story of A Mouse That Farted
“My dear,”, I said. “I just put something together.”
She looked at me with a strange look like “What Next”. But her voice sounded interested. “What?” she asked.
“Well,” I said. “You remember reading a few weeks ago in the Sunday paper about that process of creating perfume? I emailed them and got some information back. It really sounded interesting. Basically it illustrated how to make a nice smell out of almost anything.
Most of the conversion from something to smelly was mechanical. I messed around for a while. I built a little gizmo that would sort of "digest" a cookie. First I put one of those cookies in the front end of the gizmo I'd built and ran it through. It worked just fine. A rather stinky kind of smell was coming from the gizmo”
By now she was looking at me sort of like I was nuts.
“At first I wasn’t sure about what smell I wanted but I decided that I’d like a cross between Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds and Vanilla Extract. I made a few adjustments to a screw in the gizmo and put another cookie through. The cookie disappeared completely and this great smell came from the machine. Somehow the gizmo converted the cookie to an odor”
She was now convinced I was batty.
“Here, I’ll show you,” I said and proceeded to put a cookie in front of the gizmo. It disappeared in and ran through the machine. This really great smell came out and the cookie was nowhere to be found. She looked a little confused. But I know she smelled the smell and saw the cookie disappear.
“I just read another article on one of the other bulletin boards I frequent. It talked about the idea that you could make a little gadget that could smell all foreign objects and react. I’m going to work with that and see if I can get a gadget to recognize certain foreign objects and then track them down. If I can do that, this gizmo can take the object and turn it into a nice smell.”
“Sounds like fun,” she said.
A couple weeks passed and I worked diligently on my new machine. When I got done, it was about 3 or 4 inches long and an inch or so across. Sort of looked like a potato. It had four wheels on it and a little steering mechanism so that it could turn corners and move about. I had a lot of fun with it. There was a little screw on the bottom that I could turn when I wanted it to look for a cookie. Then I set it down and it would sort of spin in a circle and suddenly take off on a bee line for the cookie. The magnet thing that I’d put inside would draw the cookie in and suddenly there would be this great aroma.
I called my wife into my room and demonstrated. She was fascinated and we played with the potato for a while.
“What’s next?” she asked.
“Well, you know that Exacto tool set you got me for Christmas last year. I thought maybe I’d try to carve a cover for this that looks like a little mouse. That’d be step one. Then for step two, I’d change the mechanism around inside so that the machine is attracted to any kind of dirt.”
I could see she didn’t quite understand what I was going to do.
“Then when we turn it on and let it go, it will run around on the floor and find pieces of dirt and gobble them up and produce a really great smell. We’ll have invented our own deodorizing vacuum cleaner.”
Finally, it dawned on her that there was a practical use for the thing.
“What’ll you call it?’ she wanted to know.
“I’m going to called it ‘The Mouse That Farts”,” I said. “’Cause you put something in this end and out that end comes a good smell.”
“I understand,” she grimaced. “That’s kind of a crude name, though. Pretty vulgar.”
“We’re probably the only ones that will hear it, though,” I said.
I did some more work on the little machine and it really did look like a little mouse. We’d turn it on when we went to bed at night and it would scurry around overnight and we’d smell this really nice smell wafting through the rooms of the house.
A couple years passed and our vacuum cleaner remained in the closet except when we used it. No one else knew about it. When we had friends over, they'd always comment on the great smell our house had. My wife and I would smile at each other. Occasionally I'd change the setting so that it would be minty, or springlike, or like the original - my favorite.
We were at the dining room table eating dinner one day and the wife said: “You know, I never did understand how Mouse knows that it is dirt rather than a dish of macaroni and cheese.”
“Well,” I said. “It’s been a while and I’m a little big fuzzy about it now, but if I remember right, it has to do with smell and shape and multiple smells in a dish. Lots of different things like that. Thinking back on it, it’s pretty confusing even to me.”
“Well,” she said. “I think something is happening because I’ve noticed some spots of dirt here and there.”
“I supposed I might have to get some new parts or new batteries or something. Let me work on it an see.”
I took Mouse into my office and took him apart. The parts were all gleaming and looked as if they had just been put in. The batteries were new looking, too. I put him back together and got a piece of lint out of my shirt pocket. I laid it down a few feet away from Mouse and he ran over to it and gobbled it up and the air really smelled nice when he farted. I put him down on the floor and watched as he ran around and picked up a few pieces of rug lint that were loose. The air grew more and more pleasant as he searched and passed gas (as more genteel people might like to say).
I did notice, however, that he ignored a couple specks of dirt that were lying pretty close to him. I gathered those little specks of dirt and put them on a piece of white paper. I got a couple small specks of dirt from outside and laid them on the paper. I turned Mouse on and he immediately ate the outside dirt and left the inside dirt alone.
I’d had to buy a device that analyzed objects before the gizmo converted them and so I got it out. Most dirt registers 6219 on the device's scale. I put a speck of outside dirt on the platform and analyzed it. It was 6219. I put a speck of inside dirt on the platform and analyzed it. It was 6237. That was strange.
Some thought, though, led me to the conclusion that the mouse was evolving and that the learned scent of the common dirt was something he'd gotten tired of while the strange scent of the new dirt was delicious. Evolution had destroyed the long range benefits of the mouse that farts and the mouse went to my invention graveyard to await other inspirations.