It's not about the house.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

This Wheel's On Fire

I have a Lady and my Lady has a cat.

When my Lady goes away, it is my job to feed her cat.

Said cat is, shall we say, unpleasant.

She’s not horrid-little-bitch bad, but she’s close. She loves her mama and wishes the rest of the world would squeak twice and die. It’s not her fault. She spent her first we-don’t-know-how-many years of life locked up in a bathroom, fending for herself, living on whatever bugs or rodents she could catch, and maybe – maybe – the occasional tossed-in can of tunafish. Landing in my Lady’s house was like being airlifted out of Auschwitz and dropped off in Xanadu. She knows she lucked out like a Brangelina orphan, and she’s not risking letting anybody in to harsh her mellow.

Generally she won’t get after you if you don’t bother her first, but sometimes she gets it in her head that she’s a cop – by which I mean she decides you’ve got an attitude even when all you did was walk past her being of a species not her own. (Although that’s not exactly fair: she’d probably hate you if you were her species, too.) And god help you when you have to put her in the carrier to take her to the vet because your Lady gets so nervous trying to do it that she shakes and frets and makes things exponentially worse, so you put on three sweaters and two pairs of gloves even in the dead of summer and still wind up bleeding after all. And the screaming! I never heard a veterinarian yell like that! He came out white as a sheet, saying “I’ve never said this before in my life, but I would declaw that … animal.” I could tell he’d changed up at the last minute from “declaw that bitch,” and probably really wanted to say “put that bitch down” -- and not in the "to scamper on the floor" way, either.

But I digress.

When my Lady goes away, it is my job not only to feed the cat, but also to spend time and visit with the cat so she doesn’t get over-lonely pining for my Lady. As if. Lady pays me well for this – embarrassingly well, in fact – but sometimes I feel bad taking the money. All that happens when I go there is I feed the cat, she wolfs it down, then crouches glaring at me for a half an hour while I read a book or take inventory of my toes, then she retires to the bedroom to turn her back on me and have a wash, trying to scrape my hateful existence from her consciousness. I’m supposed to try to play with her while I’m there. I’ve taken to tossing a ball in her general direction while I leave.

Generally, my Lady tries to plan her trips so I don’t have to do this on the weekend, but this time was unavoidable. She was invited to visit a dear friend of her late husband, a friend who’s still of working age (which my Lady and most of her regular acquaintances are well beyond), so Saturday night it had to be.

And yes, you heard that correctly. My Lady was going away for just one night. But this kitty just so happens to have seizures sometimes, so even for an absence of 24 hours, my Lady sleeps better if I check in. And part of what my Lady pays me for that isn’t cat-related, is to ensure she sleeps well – because if she doesn’t then her medications fail, and we all end up in psych emergency.

Well, not all of us. The last time it happened she didn’t even have the cat.

So on Thursday – the last time I saw her – my Lady asked if I would mind, since it was the weekend anyway and I would therefore be driving in, would I mind picking up a few bags of Kitty Litter for her? The Very Special Recycled Pine Shavings Kitty Litter that she gets at Whole Foods, which is just up the road from her, but it’s still awfully far to walk with two 10-pound bags of Very Special Recycled Pine Shavings Kitty Litter?

Yes, my Lady, I can do that. In fact, I’m very happy to be able to do that for you. Seeing as how you pay me ridiculous amounts of money to spend time with a critter that ignores me, I am over the moon at having found a manner in which to be actually useful. I will do it on my way in, on Saturday.

But then Something Really Bad happened, and I forgot.

Something Really Bad happened, and I had to go to Worcester, and since I was worried that Chuck (TFT) might not make the trip and back, I packed a bag and called my sister (who happens to live in Worcester) to tell her that if Chuck (TFT) broke down, I might just have to spend the night with her. I almost forgot to go to my Lady’s house to feed and visit with the Evil Critter on my hurried way out of town, but then remembered. And got there to discover that my Lady left a note:

“Since you have Chuck,” she wrote (she doesn’t know about the (TFT)), “will you please bring this blanket home and wash it?”

This is not an unusual request. My washing machine is bigger than my Lady’s, so a few times a year she asks me to do this sort of thing for her. But since Something Really Bad had happened and I wasn’t thinking clearly, what popped into my mind was: “How does My Lady even know I have the—”

Oh, shit. Very Special Recycled Pine Shavings Kitty Litter.

So, since I was on my way to Worcester to deal with Something Really Bad and didn’t want to take the time to go to Whole Foods and back right then – but also didn’t think they would be open at the hour I’d be popping in to get hissed at the next morning – I stopped and bought the cat litter as soon as I left my Lady’s house. It would still be in the car the next day; I’d drop it off then. Unless I had to spend the night in Worcester. Knock on wood.

Well, as it turned out, I didn’t have to spend the night in Worcester. I got all the way out there safely. And almost all the way home.

I was in Roxbury when it happened. I thought I was surrounded by invisible Harley Davidsons until I realized those growling sounds were coming from me, and the accelerator didn't work. I’ve been expecting the transmission to blow for a while now; it’s the reason I was nervous to go to Worcester in the first place. It’s the reason I haven’t bothered to fix the rack & pinion. Hell, it’s the reason we debated getting Chuck (TFT) a new battery a month ago – until we remembered that Really Bad Things happen all the time these days, and we really ought to keep him limping while we can.

But still, I’ve been girding for the transmission, so when I called AAA for the fourth time in a month – $89/year: Best. Investment. Ever. – I told them that’s what I thought it was. This is not the first time I’ve done this. When the battery died, I said I thought it might be the transmission. Well, hell! I can diagnose an alternator, a timing belt, a water pump, an exhaust manifold, a master cylinder, and pretty much any part of the steering mechanism – but I’ve never blown a transmission before. I don’t have any idea what happens when one finally goes. And I’m starting to feel a bit like Fred Sanford, clutching my chest by the side of the road and calling for Elizabeth.

Anyway, I told the AAA dispatch on Saturday I thought it must be the transmission, but when the tow guy came I added a caveat, I was afraid he’d start it for some reason, and I didn’t want him to think I hadn’t heard the noise. So I said: “It’s really loud, like it’s exhaust or something, but I’m pretty sure it must be the transmission.” Because, you know, I didn’t want him to think I was dumb or anything.

Tow guy took one look and said “Yeah. Your muffler fell off.”

And you know what? He was right.

Which is why I didn’t make a peep when he spent the whole 12-mile ride to my house telling me about stupid things he’s been called in to fix that men have done, and ending every story with “From a girl that would be one thing – but a man?”

(Yes, Mister AAA Guy, we girls sure are stupid. And allll those stupid-men stories you have are just anomalies. But I’m just going to sit here and giggle like a stupid girl because really, what leg have I got to stand on?)

When we got to the AssVac, after I debriefed Johnny on the Really Bad Thing in Worcester, I checked the bus schedule for the next morning because – even though I was sure My Lady would understand and forgive me – now I really couldn’t afford to skip my “visit” with the Evil Beast. Plus, she was coming home expecting that I would have brought her—


Two 10-lb bags of Very Special Recycled Pine Shavings Kitty Litter.

Plus one clean-and-dried queen-sized comforter.

On the bus.

I meditated on this dilemma while I unpacked the overnight bag I hadn’t needed after all. How much of it could I carry? And which one was needed more? I knew she had other blankets in the house, but wasn’t sure she could get at them. I didn’t know if she had cat litter, but was sure she usually had two or three in reserve. If it were me, I’d just let the cat go an extra day without a box change. But then, I never get close enough to get a whiff.

By the time I zipped up the overnight bag and carried it to the bedroom closet to put away, I still hadn’t decided what to do. And then it hit me:

Two 10-lb bags of Very Special Recycled Pine Shavings Kitty Litter! Plus one queen-sized comforter! In the carry-on! I can roll it there! I don’t have to carry anything! She’ll never know!

(It’s very important to me, if I go to extremes like this to accommodate the folks I love, that they don’t know. But I can yawp it out into the series of tubes all I like because my Lady does not own a computer – so you-all can know how selfless and wonderful I am, while she still sleeps her little yellow sleep and avoids any threat of psych emergency.)

So I washed and dried the blanket, folded it, and put it in the case the night before. Double-checked the bus schedule in the morning, got dressed, and when it was time to go I went out to Chuck (TFT) to tuck the bags of kitty litter in.

It wouldn’t close.

It would almost close. If I forced it, it might have closed. But I could just see me bumping it along and the zipper breaking open – and then what would I put my knickers in the next time Something Really Bad happened and I had to go to Worcester? So I didn’t close it. I let it have the four-inch-gap it wanted, and I bumped it down the street with my Lady’s cat litter and blanket hanging out the top.

Oh no, I’m not homeless or anything! Or crazy! I just ride the bus with cat litter and blankets spilling from my carry-on! Just, you know, in case Something Really Bad happens! Also, when I try to lift it up into the bus, I fall over backwards from the weight of it!

The muffler is fixed now. St. George came by (again) and slew the dragon for us (again) for fifty dollars and a couple beers.

But one of these days, something really bad is going to happen.


Debra said...


You need to be a kindergarten teacher, because you have the story-telling ability down pat!

So glad you got everything worked out in the end! That cat sounds like one I used to have, she was downright evil, but I loved her so.

Jen said...

"Airlifted ...& landed in Zanadu. "
"...a Brangelina orphan." Great ones.
Oh and the bit about the vet. VERY funny and reminded me of our cat growing up.

Hope all is well with the Really Terrible thing.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha. Your Lady's cat sounds lots like my recently departed kitty. She scratched one vet so bad he looked like he needed stitches.

Unknown said...

Cat reminds me of Charlie:

Purely in the interests of science: if you talked to cat like Charlie talks to the world, Cat might not be so oppositional.

Sit there, reading away while making Charlie the cat noises. This advice is free and, most likely, extremely bad advice. If the cat is badly socialised then there is very little that will do anything other than get the poor beastie to tolerate you.

EGE said...

Debbie -- Welcome! I think! I don't remember seeing you here before! But I would be bad as a kindergarten teacher, because I can't seem to stop myself saying grown-up words...

Jenni -- Thanks! And the Really Bad Thing is holding steady, which is better than getting worse.

12 -- I thought she might. I actually thought of her when I was writing this.

Hubert -- Here's one for you:

Anonymous said...

those youtube videos made me kack myself.

Unknown said...

Those Youtube videos were made to terrorise small children into being socially responsible. I never ever ever go out to the icecream van without a parent. Although, these days, ice cream vans have more of a reputation for actually selling hard drugs.

On the bright side: I never play with matches. I am always serious.