Just As I Thought

If only all tragedies were like this

That’s kind of a flip headline, because it really is a tragedy for a little girl… I just wish that there was so little bad news in the world that all newspapers could run stories like this all the time:

Time is running out for Mousie the mouse who, tied to two birthday balloons, was last seen soaring helplessly over the Berkeley hills toward points east.

Mousie has been gone for a week now. Mousie’s owner, an 11-year-old girl who tied him to the balloons in the first place, is as distraught as an 11-year-old girl can be.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Caroline Nielsen. “I feel terrible. It should never have happened. Mousie is a member of the family.”

Mousie, it should be pointed out, is not a live mouse but a 3-inch-tall stuffed mouse. That does not make Mousie any less real to Caroline, who has treasured Mousie since the day nine years ago when her dad brought the toy home from a business trip.

… During a birthday party for her kid sister on Sept. 1, Caroline tied a pair of helium balloons to Mousie and began pushing her around the house, partly to give her rodent friend an aerial view of his lodgings and partly to find out how many balloons it takes to float a mouse.

But someone left her bedroom window open and, as Caroline watched in horror, a sudden gust carried the floating Mousie out the window, past the maple tree in the backyard, over the rooftop and gone.

Caroline and her mother began running down the street, trailing the floating mouse, until it drifted past the Claremont Hotel and over the East Bay hills.

“I don’t think he wanted to see the world,” Caroline said. “He wasn’t that kind of mouse. But he’s seeing it now, whether he wanted to or not.”

Mother and daughter kept their heads. They plastered the neighborhood with flyers (“Please check your yards and trees!”). They posted a missing mouse notice online. They offered a $100 reward. They placed a classified ad in The Chronicle, perhaps the most woeful classified ad in the 140-year history of this newspaper.

“Toy Mouse lost 9/1, 3″ gray cloth, tied to red/blue helium balloons, Berkeley eastward … .”

So far, nothing. A few crank calls, from people who fail to understand the gravity of the situation, but no mouse.

Caroline checked the weather report for that day and learned that the wind was blowing eastward, at 15 mph. She checked with the balloon store and learned that the balloons were premium grade and can last a week or more. She figures the mouse could still be flying, somewhere over Ohio by now.

If you find Mousie, contact the San Francisco Chronicle, won’t you?

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