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Nina In New York: Mice Enjoy Running, Animal Activists Probably Don’t

Mouse (file/credit: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

Mouse (file/credit: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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By Nina Pajak

Well, here we are. Summer! It has arrived. Not in the strict sense, or the chronological sense, or the seasonal sense, or the meteorological sense, or the global sense, but in the other sense. The one based on arbitrary American tradition in which Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the period during which we may—nay, must—wear white pants, drink out of doors, and sit on the beach regardless of air temperature. It ends, as everyone on the planet knows, on Labor Day weekend, at which point we are expected to resume sweater-wearing and vacate waterfront loungers despite the likelihood that temperatures remain in the 90s until October.

What better way to celebrate the start of the season than with a good, old fashioned crushing realization that you’ve failed once again to meet your summer weight loss goals. Or anyone’s summer weight loss goals. And don’t believe all those outdoor ad campaigns for gyms and food delivery services: your time is up. I don’t care if it’s 65° and raining outside, IT’S TIME TO GET IN THAT BATHING SUIT.

As for me, I’m contemplating getting pregnant again years ahead of schedule just so I don’t have to spend another summer wearing an infant in a carrier over my midsection in order to simultaneously conceal it and announce the reason for needing to do so.

But if I’m being honest with myself, I know what I need to do. It’s time to resort to extreme measures. Yes, that’s right.

It’s time to diet and exercise.

But exercise is so hard. It’s so tiring! I look at all these fit people jogging around and around and I think, “what idiots! Why can’t I be one of them?” But I hate it, and I always will.

You know who doesn’t hate running? According to a study out of the Netherlands as reported in The New York Times, caged mice. And rats and slugs and frogs and all our favorite, cuddly, not at all creepy and gross laboratory pals.

Because I know this question has been burning in your brain with the same fervor it has in mine, I am pleased and relieved to report that mice (and rats and slugs and frogs) actually seem to enjoy running on wheels and don’t only do it as a result of captivity stress or external force.

Thank God.

The scientist behind the study seemed thrilled to find these results, which will supposedly satisfy certain animal welfare activists. No word on how these same creatures feel about being given cancer, being fed to the point of obesity, being studied and poked and prodded and having their already-short lives curtailed so their tiny, disease-ridden bodies can be autopsied. Also no word on what they think of next season’s new anti-clumping mascara, but they probably are excited now that they got the eyeball searing side effects worked out.

I don’t mean to get up on a soapbox. I am all for scientific progress and research that furthers advances in the battles against any number of life-threatening illnesses. Not so much on the cosmetic testing, but I’m certain guilty of purchasing products that have in some way harmed an animal, despite my best efforts to avoid doing so. Except, this seems inane. Is it just me, or is running on a wheel, like, number 4,763 on the list of atrocious tasks we assign to our generally ill-fated lab mice? I know most of us rational humans hate jogging, and it probably looks really awful to have to run on a wheel every day (insert corporate America/gym membership joke here), but I’m not sure why we needed a study on this. It’s almost like a group of people who’d all recently, bitterly given up on new running hobbies all banded together to make sure no one of any species should ever have to run against their will.

Hey, who am I to disagree?

Keep fighting the good fight, guys. I’ll be here on my couch, doing my part to support the movement.

Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!