Maybe you've never heard that term. Probably you haven't. The Clan coined it years ago to refer to the strange and gradual disappearing act that unfailingly overcomes any food left uncovered on our counters.
Mice eat it.
Or kids. Or something else that nibbles. Whatever causes it, food (especially cookies, cake, and other desserts) tend to slowly but steadily vanish the longer they stay out. All it takes is a slice off the side here, a wedge missing there, and so on. In a couple hours, an ordinary slice of brownie can be reduced to a fraction of it's former size.
Counter-mousing happens in a couple of ways. Sometimes it's just a pinch here and there. If a pan of apple crisp should happen to be left on the stove/table/wherever to cool, the oat/brown sugar crumble on the stop starts to look a little dented.
(Pro tip: If you can pick the top off an apple crisp without burning your fingers or leaving obvious holes in the crust, you're well on your way to becoming an expert.)
Other times, especially with something that's already been cut into serving-size pieces, you'll see it gradually shrink. Cakes and brownies commonly fall victim to this. Whole chunks mysteriously vanish. If this goes on for too long, your piece of cake could end up being half it's original size...or less.
You would think that with all the counter-mousing going around, we'd go through cake and those kinds of things in no time flat. I mean, how many times can you shave a sliver off a piece of cake before it's totally gone?
But here's the thing. We counter-mouse, yes. Ruthlessly, too. But we also happen to be Minnesotan's.
If you're lucky enough to live in Minnesota, or at least know some Minnesota people, you'll probably be familiar with the term "Minnesota Nice."
This is the bizarre phenomenon which inflicts Minnesotans everywhere. We just can't bear to take the last of something—usually a food item.
Say there's a plate of cookies. Everyone takes one, and maybe there's a few left. Well, some people want another—honestly, who doesn't? But Minnesota Nice dictates that you must leave some for others. So cookies get broken in half. Or in thirds or quarters. However it's managed, there will still be a cookie (or part of one) left on the plate when the meal is over.
That's how Minnesota Nice works. We want everyone to have some. Even if it's a really pathetic amount.
You wouldn't think that the Clan, who never do what everybody else does, would exhibit Minnesota Nice behavior. But we do, at least as far as counter-mousing is concerned. Cookies may end up more like large crumbs rather than whole cookies, and a piece of cake could experience exponential shrinking. But they won't entirely disappear.
Maybe this is a bizarre attempt to conceal the fact that anything is missing? A "maybe they'll think it was always this size" way of thinking? I can't really say, but I do know that this is accepted counter-mousing protocol. You can spirit away as much as you can get away with, as long as there's still some left.
Only under extreme conditions can this rule be broken. For instance, I can recall a case a few weeks ago when we had a pan of brownies for desert. Only one was left over, and whoever was in charge of putting away the leftovers (which I'm pretty sure was not me) left it out on the stove. Over the next few hours, the brownie began to shrink.
|This is all that was left by nine o'clock.|
So I did. Strangely, Skinny didn't appreciate my selfless act of community service. But sometimes there's just no point in being Minnesota Nice.
In fact, a lot of the time it just gets in the way. That's why you only see Minnesota Nice behavior in the Clan when we're trying (and generally failing) to be sneaky. Around here, food is pretty much up for grabs. As a general rule, you can bet that if you don't eat it, sooner or later someone else will.
One disclaimer before you go.
"All parties mentioned in this post may or may not have been involved in past episodes of counter-mousing. However, this should not be interpreted as an admission of guilt, or even a declaration that guilt exists. As far as can be determined, the food has been disappearing spontaneously from this and other kitchens over the past twenty years, with no connection whatsoever to the activities of the Clan.