SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Last night, for the first time in many, many months, I was all alone in my house. No kids; no animals; not even a mouse, judging from the fact that my traps have gone untripped. It was quiet -- too quiet. No laughter from humans, no purring from animals. No movement, no meows, nothing but an oppressive lack of life throughout the home.
It was wonderful.
See, I couldn’t take the cats anymore. Oh, it wasn’t cleaning out two litter boxes, or the way GiGi likes to use any available pile of my clothes for her personal urinal, or even how Chopper has a tradition of barfing up at least half of every meal.
No, it’s the allergies. Not theirs – there doesn’t seem to be the poetic justice necessary to make cats allergic to humans. Mine. I’ve always been allergic to cats, but when you close up your house for winter and share it with not one, but four of the little furballs, dander builds up like falling snow.
I’m not a fan of falling snow, either.
So I got rid of them. It took all day to bury them – they wouldn’t stay still. (Just kidding -- that was a little shout out to some Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan friends.)
Things got pretty darn crowded there for awhile. There were certainly advantages to that, but I tend to be a hermit by nature. My youngest is still with me on all my days off, but one by one the others moved out, and she’s gone on most work days. Finally only the cats were left, because my oldest – their true owner – moved into an apartment. Now she, her boyfriend, and the twins are in a home of their own.
So they get the cats back. Oh, and: Yay.
How did I loath them? Let me count the ways:
Chopper can’t toss his cookies in the same place twice. That would be too predictable. So each time I felt his lunch coming up he’d seek out some new place, as long as it was in, say, a hallway, or just inside a door.
I was a victim of Murphy’s Law of litterboxes: The minute I finished cleaning one, I’d turn around to find a cat hopping in to do his business.
Leaving a chair for even a minute means automatically losing it.
A computer keyboard wasn’t something to work on; it was something to walk across, preferably before any humans push the “save” button.
To a cat, “down” means “up”, and “no”, means “yes”.
Shoestrings are toys. If they happen to be moving across the room, attached to a foot, it’s just that much more fun.
On a related note, it’s very important to cats that they lay right in the middle of where people routinely walk. They will not decide to move until you’re a foot away, and then they’ll invariably move in the same direction you swerved to avoid them.
Claws are meant to climb things with; if that thing happens to be a human, so much the better.
A closed door is merely an invitation for loud meowing and paint scratching. Humans who work nights are not allowed sleep during the day; the fact that cats sleep during the day has nothing to do with it.
Then there was Nixon’s way of welcoming me home. Now, it’s impossible for me to sneak home, because my car makes all the noises that you’d expect a ten year old car to make. There’s a small table by the front door, and Nixon liked to stand on her hind legs and stretch up as far as she could. Picture me getting home in the dark – because this time of the year it’s always dark.
I unlock the door, blindly reach around inside for the light switch, and my hand lands on something furry that moves!
Boy, that just never stopped being funny -- to them.
But all good things must come to an end, and one good thing coming to an end was my lung capacity. In short, I couldn’t breath. I know parents are supposed to be willing to die for my kids, but I didn’t want to die for my kid’s pets.
So Charis, Vinny, and the twins were supposed to come Saturday to pick them up, but instead they showed up on Friday. “But you’re a day early,” I said, my downturned mouth trembling just a bit.
Just as Charis was beginning to think I’d miss them, I added, “I was going to throw a party!”
Before they took them, Charis explained, she wanted to give them a quick bath. Heh. The reason for it being done there, instead of at her house, is that her house was just nicely fixed up and cleaned, while mine wouldn’t suffer too much from the loss of a few wall tiles and some carpeting. I figured, why not? My bathroom needs renovations, anyway.
Soon Charis was yelling for Vinny to come help her, while a low, unearthly growl and frantic scratching noises came from the bathroom. She knew better than to call me. I’d had enough. A few minutes later I heard her discussing whether to have the twins help hold the cats down, but since the twins are only five months old it didn’t seem they’d be much help as anything but paperweights.
Instead I stayed in the living room, where the twins both howled in unison with the cats and I frantically rocked them and sang badly. Boy, did I ever have the best part of that deal.
And then they were gone. The whole group, back to their new starter home, a family complete with pets. I walked slowly through the cold, silent house, which now seemed devoid of life. Nothing padded after me, wanting only love and a little food, and to see me fall on my face once in awhile. It would seem a lonely, lifeless place, after I got done with the five months of cleaning necessary to remove every last trace of dander.
I threw back me head and laughed. Well, wheezed. Then I ordered pizza and champagne.