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《没有“中国制造”的一年》第六章:发明之母 (四)

(2011-06-21 10:50:25)









分类: 胡译赏析

                                          《没有“中国制造”的一年》第六章:发明之母 <wbr>(四)

                                            Year Without Made in China

Sara Bongiorni



                                      胡宗锋  苦丁  (译)

                                                   Chapter Six       Mothers of Invention

                                                        第六章             发明之母(四)

       The trouble is, this mouse doesn’t keep to itself. It has no tact what-ever.The day after my mother sees it, it leaves distasteful evidence of its visits in the laundry room and on the kitchen counter, next to my checkbook and a stack of clean laundry. The day after that I discover that it has spent time in the downstairs crib, giving me chills and conjuring fears of hantavirus. Next it devours a pack of Juicy Fruit gum inside my mother’s purse, then uses her purse as a bathroom. My mother is due to return to California in a few days. I can’t help but notice that this time she seems eager to go.


I start to think that ignoring the mouse is not actually a solution to the problem.

“Don’t kill it,” Kevin commands me over the phone.



       It’s late at night in Paris, where Kevin is enjoying summer air drifting in through the open window of his clean, mouseless hotel room. We’ve been weighing my options for mouse disposal.We’ve ruled out poison—seems dangerous since we have children and a dog, plus there’s the unpleasant business of the mouse dying within our walls. I confess I’m intimidated by the idea of an old-fashioned wooden snapping trap. I worry about my fingers, and, of course, there would be the aftermath of dealing with the dead mouse. I am squeamish about skittering things but I am more squeamish still about dead ones. Kevin pushes for a sentimental solution. He directs me to purchase one of the humane mousetraps we used in our old house, little plastic boxes that swing shut when the mouse ventures inside.


     “The kids would love it if you caught it and let it go someplace,” he says.“You could let it go down by the lake by the rich people’s houses. It would be a great family project.That’s what you should do.”

No, that’s what you should do, I think, but I keep quiet.

I stall for a day or two, until my neighbor points out something I hadn’t considered.

“Maybe the mouse is pregnant and about to have babies,” she says. “You’d never get rid of them all after that.”





      I head for the hardware store that afternoon.That’s when the boycott gets in the way of a kinder, gentler means of mouse elimination.A sober young man leads me to the pest-control aisle after I ask if they sell humane mousetraps. I sense trouble as soon as I read the label on the outside of the trap. Made in China, it says.


        I turn to the young man. He has dark, judging eyes, but I decide to let him in on my dilemma anyway. I’ve noticed that my sheepishness in admitting what I’m up to with the boycott declines in inverse measure to my level of desperation.


    “Do you carry any other brands of humane traps?” I ask him. I hold up the trap for his inspection.

“You see, it says here that it’s made in China, but I don’t buy Chinese products,” I explain.

The young man narrows his dark eyes, then turns gravely to study the shelves of traps before us. He reaches for a traditional wood-and wire trap made by the Victor company and turns the package in his hand until he locates the product label.




      “This one says made in the USA, but that could be just the plastic bag that holds it, not the trap inside,” he tells me solemnly.“But it may be your best option.”

This kid’s got a knack for a China boycott. Nothing slips past him, I can tell. I shrug and hold out my hand.

“I’ll take two,” I say.




       I don’t set the American traps.To tell you the truth, I wasn’t certain I was game to do it when I bought them, and not just because I fear for the well-being of my fingers. I don’t set the traps because I continue to hope that the mouse will disappear of its own accord and I won’t have to deal with it for the simple, irrational reason that I don’t want to deal with it. Then I think I get lucky. One morning I smell death in the laundry room. Normally, I’d be horrified to think that something had died inside our house, but if the mouse can make its exit without my assistance I’m all for it. I am capable of avoiding the laundry room for a few days. I am in a fine mood when I leave for work in the morning, thinking I’ve dodged another bullet, but when I return in the afternoon my hopes are dashed. The odor has dissipated. It wasn’t mouse death after all, merely a load of damp towels in the dryer.


      I check the calendar in the kitchen. A little over a week remains until Kevin’s return. I leave the traps unopened in the plastic bag from the hardware store and hope for the best—and, for the mouse, the worst.


       I set aside thoughts of mice and set about patching up the household. I take the vacuum cleaner to a repair shop on the outskirts of town, where the owner waxes philosophical on a growing divide in the world of vacuum cleaners. More and more, you’ve got two choices in vacuums, he tells me. Cheap Chinese ones that will fall apart in a couple of years, or slick German jobs that start at $400 and run to $1,000 or more.


“I’ve got nothing in between,” he says.

He clears out the hose of our machine for free and sends me on my way in 10 minutes’ time.

“Come back in a couple of years when this one breaks,” he calls as I’m on my way out the door. I take with me a brochure advertising German vacuum cleaners.







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