Letter to a young lady with a bad reputation
Mouse trap. 1920s. Leipzig, Germany. Found at Dankwart (www.dankwart.org) in Berlin.
Allow me to express my disapproval. Because you deceive your world with regrettable duplicity! Oh, you are such a tease, deceiving the naïve, which I am, by displaying attractive curves in the shape of a cake. Ingeniously perched on a wooden board. But you are a monster, mademoiselle! A little monster, indeed. And not very fierce... But still, a formidable predator. Keeping an eye out for the innocent rodent who, inevitably, will be trapped in your elegant curves.
‘What !?’, you say to me, indignant, ‘but the monsters, the real ones, with their claws, teeth and fur, it is precisely these abominable rodents that I am so good at neutralizing!’ Listen to you... Have you thought for one moment, just one, of the distress the mouse you just captured is feeling? Unable to escape through the funnel of wire, allowing it, oh treacherous and ingenious stratagem, to slip into the heart of your tubby little person? Attracted by a few pieces of cheese slyly deposited in bait! Frantic, she thinks of the children, husband, aunts, sisters, cousins that she eft behind in the nest never to be seen again! The torment of a fate that has suddenly gone awry: will she be left at the mercy of the resident feline, here to exterminate her kind? Oh anguish, oh terror...
How can this be? I am ridiculous! I shan’t allow it, young lady! Yes, I know, you are over 80 years old. But mouse traps do not age, and you have certainly kept the puckish yet cunning effectiveness of your youth. And then a housewife in Leipzig, infuriated by the mice raiding her pantry and not wishing to be burdened with anything feline, bought you for a few pfennigs at the hardware store.
‘But I do not kill,’ you plead. Indeed. Unlike your abominable and criminal cousins, the spring-loaded traps. This is why an ingenious little door was built into your rounded side to extract the imprisoned rodent. Whose destiny will remain forever unknown... What could happen to these mice captured in the kitchens of Leipzig? Were they released? I highly doubt it... But perhaps there were a few charitable souls who had no inclination to exterminate even the long-tailed pests ravaging their pantries. Like my father, who, as much of a soldier as he was, could never bring himself to kill a mouse. Which we would catch with one of your modern descendants and a ton of high-quality Brie. Before releasing them in the forest. ‘Sentimentalism of city dwellers.’ Are you mocking me? Perhaps. Fortunately, you stopped ensnaring many moons ago... having become a decorative object. Sober and elegant in your timeless modernism. Insolently posed as an art object in the heart of a very chic shop of the no less chic and avant-garde district of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin.
I will not pardon you, mademoiselle, but do wish you a long life in your new role. Far, far away from Berlin’s, or any other mice for that matter.