My son says our cat Magic is purebred.
W says she’s inbred.
We had a lot of excitement here last night.
It was about 1:30 a.m. and W and I were sound asleep when one of the children yelled something about a bat in the house.
We both put on our glasses and got out of bed.
There were shouts of “bat!” and “where?”
And that’s when we saw it. A bat in the second-floor hallway.
This next part is fuzzy. There was screaming. Mine. And running. Me.
After venturing into the hallway, I spotted the bat flying back and forth in the enclosed space. I ran back into our bedroom with my hands covering my head. Because what bat wouldn’t try to get all tangled up in this butch’s perfect hairdo?
W says my arms were flailing, but really it was a windmill move purposefully designed to ward off bats. Get all up in this space motherfucker, and I will cut you, I communicated with my wildly swinging hands that were now weapons. Bat cutting weapons.
Seriously, this sucker was huge. It had a Brittney Griner wingspan. For realz.
When the bat appeared to disappear, we determined it had made its way to the third floor.
“Good luck!” we yelled to the kid who sleeps on the third floor.
At this point, it was every man for himself.
I secured the door at the bottom of the steps leading up to the third floor. W went to the bathroom because of excitement! and bladder! The child who had first spotted the bat was in his room with the door closed.
And then I heard it. A skree skree. Or I will kill you when I get the chance or at least get tangled up in that butch hair you love so much.
And then I saw it. The bat squeezing out the bottom of the door that I was holding shut. I swear that bat folded itself up like some kind of origami project gone horribly wrong and slid under the door as if it was passing itself as a note. A terrible black furry note with pointy teeth and possibly rabies.
I screamed. Again. That tiny girl part somewhere deep inside me screamed. It was loud and shrill. I couldn’t control it. I was that kid in Home Alone. If that kid was a little girl.
All the doors on the second floor were closed. The bat was on the loose again in the hallway.
I ran downstairs. To plot my next move. Or sit on the couch. I can’t be sure. I was in an adrenaline-fueled fog.
I could hear W upstairs. Apparently, the bat was now in our bedroom circling the room. Our cat Magic was on our bed jumping at the circling bat. W says Magic looked at her and nodded her feline head as if to say “I’ve got this.” Magic knocked the bat down and stunned the creature, and W was able to capture it by putting a waste can on top of it.
I could hear W getting all MacGyver. Yelling out instructions for some makeshift bat catch-and-release kit. Something thin, something sturdy. Now!
In the end, she slid a piece of cardboard under the waste can, carried the can outside and released the bat into the night.
I tried to gather all of my butch dignity as I made my way upstairs and into bed.
I had been getting my writer’s mojo back.
And then my son broke his leg.
And we got a pair of kittens.
I learned a long time ago that things never go back to “normal.” Normal is broken legs. And kittens who are so gosh darn cute that you just want to stare at their tiny perfection and listen to their little furry motors all day long. Deadlines be damned.
Normal is car accidents and insurance claims. Jury duty. Spilt milk.
I am 47 years old, and I’ve learned to roll with it as best I can.
We live in a tiny town that has an ice cream parlor. The ice cream is handmade and is really, really good.
This year, they’ve started a new promotion. They advertise a “flavor of the week” for $1 a scoop on a sandwich board in the parking lot. A normal scoop costs about $3.50. The “flavor of the week” lasts for as long as the ice cream does. We have been stuck on S’mores for about two weeks now. Which, surprisingly, is not that great.
Every day I go out, I drive by the ice cream shop to see if there is a new flavor listed on the sign. This makes me happy. I like small town life. I like being in the know. I like this tiny bit of excitement.
I like that the “flavor of the week” could last for a day or a week.
I text W the flavors while she is at work without any kind of explanation or background.
She always texts the same thing back: “?”
Because she is in the middle of work, and I am randomly texting “Graham slam.”
I find her standard response comforting. Comfortable.
So, that’s me. I like simple and same. I like surprises, too. But little ones. Like a scoop of rainbow sherbet for a buck.
Not big ones like, hey, broken leg.
Although kittens are such a joy.
But whatever life scoops out, even a giant bowl of S’mores, I can handle it.
I just found out that another one of my pieces has been accepted for publication.
That means that I’m two for three, or batting .667. That’s a monstrous number in baseball. Not even the great Ted Williams ever hit much higher than .400. (Notice that I didn’t add an asterisk. That means that all writing was completed without steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.)
I forwarded the acceptance letter to W, who called to tell me how proud she is of me. “Are you so excited?” she asked.
“I’m hiding under the covers with the cat,” I told her.
She knew to let me be. Actually, I wasn’t under the covers with the cat. I was lying on top of them with the cat immobilized by fear.
I had told W last night that I need to start working on a query letter and book proposal. I explained how everything is right there in my sights, almost in my grasp.
“That’s awesome,” she said.
“Scary-awesome,” I replied.
That pretty much sums up my feelings on moving forward with my writing. It’s awesome to think that I’m close — closer than I’ve ever been — to realizing my bucket list goal of writing a book and having it published.
But scary, too. Memoir is so very personal and soul-baring. It’s like writing naked. Or more accurately, it’s like writing naked about your naked self. I am more prude than nudist, and therein lies the problem.
Crap, I should have just written about vampires.
When W and I were first dating, she invited me over to watch the movie Rent. She’d put the kids to bed early and make buttered popcorn. Would I like to come over.
Sure. This red-blooded lesbian had Melissa Etheridge’s “I Want Come Over” playing over and over and over in her head.
Here’s the catch. There’s always a catch. W had cats. Two of them.
And in direct conflict with the laws of nature and lesbianism, this lesbian was allergic to cats.
For as long as I can remember, cats have made me itchy and scratchy and caused my eyes to seal shut. The last time that I had played with a cat — a cute little kitten at a college kegger — my eyes got all red and itchy and eventually swelled shut. Two of my friends had to guide me back to my college apartment as if I were Helen Keller. Miracle workers, both of them.
So, yeah, I was nervous about spending time at W’s place. What if my eyes swelled shut and I couldn’t drive home? It was a 45-minute drive, depending on traffic. How embarrassing what that be for this big, bad, I-can-take-care-of-myself butch?
But there was to be hot buttered popcorn. And a movie. Oh, heck, there was a hot girl in the picture. Who am I kidding? She could have been covered in cat hair or wearing a cat-hair sweater and I would have been there with bells on. Maybe not bells, because they are kind of girly.
The big date night arrived, and I found myself sitting in W’s apartment on W’s couch with W. And her two cats. I was petrified. I tried to ignore the cats but they were curious. You know how cats are. One kept brushing up against me. I was careful not to touch my face or rub my eyes.
The movie started and with one slick move I slid my arm behind W.
Every so often, I took a bodily inventory. No sneezing. No itchy eyes. No scratchy skin. Just a little bit of heavy breathing, but that was to be expected.
Turns out that I didn’t have an allergic reaction that day and haven’t any day since. W and I now live together along with three cats and other assorted random creatures.
Not to throw W under the bus (here’s me throwing W under the bus), but she had mentioned to a friend about me and my cat allergy and basically said that it was a deal breaker. So sad, the friend remarked. She seemed so nice. She was so ready to dump me for the cats.
Is there a moral to this love story?
It just goes to show you that love conquers all, even deadly allergies.
Cats are diabolical creatures and have broken up many a pair of lovers. They are narcissistic and evil like that.
Take your pick.
* * *
What about you? Any pet-related dating stories to share?
Today was a crazy busy day.
The crazy part happened this morning when I was getting ready to take a shower.
reading War and Peace sitting on the toilet when a large gray mouse scurried across the bathroom floor. I instinctively lifted my legs in the air because I didn’t want the mouse to brush up against my bare flesh. I’m pretty sure you can catch the plague or some other early-century disease from contact with a single wild mouse hair.
Anyway, I shrieked. Which leads to this question: If a butch screams and no one is home to hear it, does the scream make a sound?
I started calling for Magic, our ace mouser. It’s a very un-butch feeling to be stranded half naked, calling for your cat to help you out of a jam.
When it comes to mice, Magic is no-nonsense like Judge Judy and Kate Jackson in Charlie’s Angels, with just a touch of crazy like Lindsay Lohan. Feral cats, you have to love ’em.
Magic was nowhere to be found. Apparently, she doesn’t know the meaning of the word “help.”
Instead, I saw our cat Moon walking up the stairs with the mouse in his mouth. Moon is, well, a little soft. If he wore clothes, he’d probably don capri pants capped off with a big, billowy pirate shirt, the entire ensemble accented with an ascot. And yes, Moon would use the word “ensemble.”
I watched Moon skip down the hallway with the mouse. It was like watching Nathan Lane shoot pool or change the oil in his car.
Usually, Magic is the take-charge cat in the house, cornering mice, sneaking out of the house, engineering surprise attacks on the other cats.
Moon? Well, he likes to sleep on our bed. And he likes to have his tummy rubbed. Did I mention the sleeping thing?
After today’s act of cat-versus-mouse bravado, he’s been walking a little taller and, dare I say, strutting about the house.
“You go, Moon,” I called out to him.
He was so chill that he didn’t even look my way.
It was yet another reminder that we should all break out of our comfort zones every once in awhile.
It’s raining cats and dogs outside.
Which is weird because my cat is right here next to me. It’s probably because she’s lazy and not always up for outdoor adventures.
Anyway, Magic is curled up on a chair that I’ve positioned alongside my work desk. Every few minutes, I look over at her and smile.
I remember to be grateful for the little things in life:
I am grateful that Magic allows me to care for her. She sleeps on the Snuggie that I carefully fluff up for her. She eats the food that I put out for and laps up the water. She plays when I crinkle up a small piece of paper into a ball or fetch one of her cat toys.
She rewards me with sandpaper kisses and her company. Sometimes she crawls up my chest, hooks her front paws over my shoulder and falls fast asleep. Other times, like today, she is content to sleep near me.
I wonder if she realizes how lucky she is to have such luxuries like a soft Snuggie to curl up on, an endless supply of food, and shelter from the rain, especially on days like today. After all, she is a shelter cat who spent her first few weeks on the city streets of Philadelphia.
And then I remember how lucky I am to have such a magic creature who reminds me of all of my blessings.
How a about you, Flannel readers? What have you learned from your pet?
This what I do when I don’t feel like working.
I extract my cat’s hair from inside the dark recesses of my computer keyboard.
See, she likes to sleep on my shoulder when I am hard at work at my desk. Her hair is on the longish side, and strands of it fall onto the keyboard. I brush them aside, but they still manage to find their way in between the keys.
Last weekend, I vacuumed the keyboard in an attempt to remove snack cake crumbs, bits of potato chips and any stray cat hairs. This just made things worse. Little tufts of hair peeked out from between the keys. My vacuum apparently didn’t have enough suction to remove half a cat from a keyboard.
I refuse to buy cans of compressed air any longer. It is just air. In a can. For $7.99. I just took three deep breaths and made $1.59.
I ended up using a straightened-out paperclip to pull out the hair, running the metal tool under the keys — QWERTYUIOP — and pulling up. I called my son over to help. It became a family project.
We piled the hair into a neat little pile.
“Wait, I want to take a picture of it for my blog,” I said.
He just rolled his eyes.
Here’s something else that I do when I don’t feel like working.
I write about extracting my cat’s hair from inside my computer keyboard.
What about you? What do you do to put off work?
We were robbed over the weekend.
Before you worry your pretty little heads, know that no one was hurt. We’re all safe — me, W, the kids and the cats.
It was the strangest thing. Perhaps that’s they very nature of a senseless crime. Strange. After all, it’s an not an everyday occurrence. Unless you’re a cop. Or a criminal, for that matter.
So, what did they take? I use the word “they,” because I have a sense that there was more than one of them. A pair, or criminal duo. Or more likely three or four, which would translate into a full-blown crime team. I’m fairly certain they had a ringleader, several lackeys, maybe even a couple of thugs. We can’t be sure. I mean, who can really say.
They took our Purina Tender Moments Whisker Lickin’s (chicken flavor). I use the word “took” in an attempt to mitigate the violent nature of this heinous crime. The scofflaws viciously tore through the vacuum-sealed Whisker Lickin’s package and helped themselves to the tender morsels nestled inside. The brutal manner in which they violated the package indicates that they were sorely in need of a poultry fix.
After closer examination of the evidence, it seems that the perpetrators might have used their teeth to actually tear through the foil-lined package just like some sort of wild animal. In fact, pieces of the package were missing from the crime scene. I wonder if the scoundrels took the fragments with them to cover their tracks or actually ingested pieces of the wrapper in their chicken-crazed haste.
The crime occurred while we were out of the house for the day. Thank God.
The cats were home, though.
We asked them about it. Did you see anything? Did you hear anything? Did you notice anything unusual?
Moon just turned his head and stared blankly out the window.
Magic jumped inside a laundry basket.
It was a terrible case of PTCD (post-traumatic cat disorder). Perhaps the worst I’ve ever seen.
“Curse you villains!” I shouted, shaking my closed fist wildly at the unidentified assailants. “What cruel folly is this!”
Moon turned his head the other way.
Magic sat in the laundry basket.
I opened a new pack of Whisker Lickin’s and fed them each three soft, tender pieces to calm their nerves.
With all of the cat-mouse excitement this weekend (see here), I thought I would re-post one of all my all-time favorite posts, which details a more successful mouse rescue and contains a similar scream from your favorite butch blogger. Look for it.
* * *
“Honey, I need a box or a container or something,” W says.
It’s 6:00 in the morning.
The urgency in her voice suggests that she needs to dispose of a body part. That’s the first thing that pops into my mind at 6 a.m. I am Italian after all.
Me: What’s the matter?
W: There’s a mouse in the bathtub.
Me: Is it alive or dead?
W: I don’t know. His eyes are open. I’m scared.
She gives me that please-protect-me look, which gets this butch’s motor running every time.
Me: Ok, give me a second.
I go downstairs and assemble a makeshift mouse-catching kit. I grab a plastic shopping bag, a small plastic tub, a plastic cup and an empty granola bar box.
W: Don’t worry about the blood. I’ll get that later.
W: There’s two drops of blood on the bathroom floor.
Me: But you don’t know whether the mouse is alive or dead?
This from a nurse.
Me: Well, where did the blood come from?
It’s not like we live in that hotel from The Shining where blood seeps in through the walls.
W: I don’t know. I have to get to work.
Me: Ok, ok, ok.
I walk to the tub, stepping over the drops of blood. There’s a dark gray mouse sitting on top of the drain. His eyes are open. He’s not moving.
I steel myself over the tub preparing to grab a mouse — who may be alive or dead or in a cat-induced coma for all I know — with a plastic shopping bag.
W: Come on, I have to take a shower.
Me: Alright, alright. If this thing moves, I’m going to scream.
I approach the mouse, hand wrapped in plastic bag. It moves. I scream.
I am nothing if not predictable.
Me: Oh God, oh God, oh God.
W impatiently leaves the bathroom.
I chase the mouse all over the tub with the plastic cup. Finally, I get him to scoot inside and cover the top with the plastic bag.
He looks fine. The clear plastic cup allows for a complete medical inspection.
Me: He’s so cute. Can we keep him?
She’s really grumpy in the morning.
Me: I dub you Mordecai. Where do you think the blood came from?
W: I don’t know. There’s only two drops.
Me: Only two drops? That’s a lot of blood. Have you seen how tiny this mouse is? The blood is either from Magic …
Magic is our cat who routinely catches, maims and kills mice. We have assumed that Magic caught Mordecai in some other part of the house, put him in her mouth and then carried him upstairs to her bathtub of horror where she could bat him around and he’d have no way to escape. She’s like a feline version of Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.
W: I doubt it.
Me: Or, another mouse that’s dead. Or, Mordecai, and he looks ok.
That’s when W notices that Mordecai is missing his tail.
Me: Maybe, he didn’t have one.
Maybe Mordecai is some exotic tailless mouse like a Manx cat, I think.
W: I think all mice have tails.
She starts singing Three Blind Mice.
W: They all ran after the farmer’s wife, who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Because this is the definitive source when it comes to rodent anatomy.
Me: Don’t worry, Mordecai, I think it’s a vestigial appendage.
I ask W what I should do with Mordecai.
W: I don’t know. Put him in the yard.
I worry that Mordecai will find his way back inside and into Magic/Buffalo Bill’s torture chamber again.
W: Either put him in the yard or kill him.
Me: These are his two options? Either release him in the yard or kill him?
This thing has mob movie written all over it.
Me: So, I can’t drive him to the park? Mordecai, how would you like to live in a park?
I end up walking Mordecai, who is safely ensconced in his plastic cup, to an old industrial park a block down the street.
I decide he will become a hobo mouse. Mordecai the hobo mouse. I dump him out of the cup and place a Fruit Loop at his feet. Mordecai sniffs around and then darts under an abandoned trailer.
I tell W.
W: Did you gave him a bandana and a stick?
Me: No. Just a Fruit Loop.
W: Did you really?
Me: Yes. I figured that it was the least that we could do after he survived Magic’s tub of terror.
So much excitement and it’s not even 7 a.m. I try to calm myself, but adrenaline is coursing through my body. It’s been a big morning. A big, bloody, horrific morning.
I kiss W goodbye and tell her to have a good day.
“Keep an eye out for the tail,” she tells me before she leaves.
Good God, will the horror never end?
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