Wednesday, November 02, 2005

In which I cleverly hide a book recommendation in a long, rambling cat story. Marketing at its best!

Yesterday was a nine hour, Reese's peanut butter cup fueled haze at the bookstore as we did Christmas change-outs. I don’t remember much of any of it except for the moment where I paused to watch the snowflake mobile (that almost drove me to commit suicide by a thousand paper cuts as I put it together) perform a slow winter-wonderland ballet above my head, and I became hypnotized. Suddenly I knew exactly what I wanted to write about in my next entry, the cure for cancer, and the path to World Peace! All was within my grasp! All I had to do was reach out for a pen, write down some notes, and—

A customer walked up, and I forgot everything. Funny how they do that: walk up. Like they think we’re a bookstore or something.

Sheesh. Next they’ll be expecting me to help them.

Obviously I haven’t quite escaped yesterday’s delirium, but that’s okay because I think I’m funnier when I’m sleep deprived.

Not to mention I don’t hear as well, so I wouldn’t know if someone told me otherwise.

Nor can I type apparently because that last sentence was really hard to get down. I don’t think I’ve been this sleepy since the time I house-sat for a family friend with a menagerie of animals who were out to do my bodily harm!

Well, to be fair, two of the animals loved me, but one was a Golden Retriever, and if you’ve ever been around a Golden Retriever you know that they are constitutionally incapable of hating anyone. They’re just one big, fluffy, shedding heart of slobbering gold who wants nothing more than to climb onto your lap even though they weigh eighty plus pounds and listen to your heartbeat as you stroke their ears. Golden Retriever Heaven…and the possible path to world peace, now that I think about it. Hurry! Find a lap!

While Daisy (the Golden) loved me in that obsessive “I’ll be lost without you if you ever leave my line of sight” kind of way, the outdoor cat (Pinky) and I had a different sort of understanding. It was more of a tough love “I recognize your turf and your prowess at taking down small furry animals as long as you recognize that I don’t want to find any of those small furry animals on the porch step” thing. I like to think that she saw me as a strong enough “hunter” that she didn’t have to provide the furries to keep me physically fit enough to put her dry food out.

These two were my only allies though against the other animals that viewed me as an interloper: the three llamas, a goat and two indoor Persian cats. I could talk at length about how evil the llamas and their maniacal goat leader could be (did you know that llamas spit? Spit! And that a goat will ram you if you turn your back? It hurts.), but they are not the reason I lost sleep. No, it was the two little purebred dictators that ran the house that made my life a living hell: two Persian cats I liked to call Stalin and Hitler.

They’re names weren’t actually Stalin and Hitler, they were Smoky and Angel. (I’m not sure I would be comfortable house-sitting for someone who named their animals after people who support genocide.) Smoky resembled Yoda (if Yoda had been covered with sliver-gray fur) and Angel perpetually looked like she smelled something bad. Sadly, I believe that was more of a commentary on how she felt about me than the result of having the epitome of a Persian’s smashed up face.

Before Smoky and Angel I loved all cats, even the ones that didn’t necessarily warm to me because they all had some interesting personality quirk. One walked around with his tongue stuck out all the time. Another pretended to hate me, but always slept beside me when I stayed the night with that particular friend. But Smoky and Angel would not allow me any soft moments and cute redeeming qualities. When I brought a bag home because I knew they liked to play with them, they ignored it. When I sat on the couch, perfectly still, waiting for one of them to make use of my lap, they left the room. I had to catch them to give them their daily brushing (the same ones they loved to get from their owner), which probably didn’t make me any better in their eyes.

They couldn’t do much when I was up and about to get revenge (other walking in front of me to try and trip me, which they did a lot), but when I went to bed, it was on. It started with the nightly beat down right in front of the bedroom door, where Angel would prove her dominance over her brother Smoky by removing large chunks of his hair, and much hissing, growling and yowling was required. These beatings would only take place right in front of my door! No other bedroom. Not down the hall. Right there! There was only ever hair right in front of My Door.

I started sleeping with earplugs.

They upgraded to moving my stuff. My toothbrush ended up behind the toilet. They would knock my hair brush off the shelf in the middle of the night, and it would clatter so loudly against the tiles that I would wake up in a panic believing that some psycho ax-murderer (because psycho-ness and ax murdering go hand in hand, don’cha know) had broken in the house and I was dead. Dead! Because I was out in the middle of nowhere in a house surrounded by trees with no close neighbors and tomorrow they’d find little bits of my body strewn from here to the mountain.

When I realized it was the cats—again—I started drugging myself. This made it very hard to get up in the morning, so I kept hitting the snooze alarm.

This also worked right into their evil scheme.

Because I was getting up later and later, I had even less time to find what they’d absconded with before I left for school. This was what they’d been hoping for the whole time, it must have been, for it resulted in the great contact heist of 1998.

That’s right, the little buggers took off with my contact case and lenses. I’d put it in the cupboard! I thought it would be safe there. It’s not like cats have opposable thumbs!

But no, not only did they get my contacts out of the cupboard, but they hid them away so well that forty-five minutes of searching yielded nothing but cat hair and dust bunnies. I had to go to school in my most hated glasses that I’d had since the eighth grade.

I was not happy.

The cats, however, purred for the first time in my entire tenure as their keeper.

I had to call my mother for help. She came over while I was at school and eventually found my contact case wedged under the dryer. Yes, the dryer. The dryer that was in another room entirely separate from the bathroom. The dryer that was down the hall from the bathroom!

The cats, by the way, loved my mother. Even sat in her lap. I maintain to this day that they led her to the case because otherwise who’d think to look under there.

She says it was just good detective work.

Maybe she was in league with them. Anything’s possible.

I rarely house-sat for the family friend again after that; we decided I just wasn’t a good fit, but we did remain friends. Every once in awhile, when I was really sleep deprived, I would look back on those days and laugh. If only someone could capture the dichotomy that defines a cat: cute and cuddly on the outside with a maniacal mind plotting your immediate downfall on the inside.

Last year I discovered (along with half a million other people) that someone had. Bad Cat was put out in a partnership between Workman Publishing and the sick people at (not to be confused with the people at who are an entirely different kind of sick). Finally someone had captured the same evil of Stalin and Hitler—er, I mean, Smoky and Angel with guffaw-inducing captions and they even included hobbies! Finally a therapeutic way to deal with the lingering post-traumatic stress caused by that job!

I immediately sent one to Gretchen, the owner of my two nemeses, and even she thought it was funny (and not some sort of backhanded commentary on her own felines. Nope, not at all).

But how can you top those 244 Not-So-Pretty Kitties?

Why by coming out with a Bad Cat Page-a-day Calendar for 2006, of course! It even has international bad cats!

If only I could submit pictures of Smoky and Angel, but I’m afraid going back would cause those pesky flashbacks again.

Better to enjoy the cats I don’t have a history with. Safer, too.


Candy said...

I named my cat Hitler. You can see pictures of her here. She's probably the least genocidal cat I've ever met.

And you are right to be afraid--of my tasteless sense of humor, if nothing else.

Speaking of which: Must. Have. This. Book.

Bookseller Chick said...

I don't know, Hitler does have the appropriate little mustache even if she doesn't have a possible jewish father and a hatred for the jewish people. Perhaps she's genocidal towards mice and their religious preferences?

And my own since of humor runs towards the tasteless, so it's okay.

But the real reply is, yes. Yes you must go out and buy this book. It is faaaantabulous, we laughed so hard at the store that I think a few of us pulled something.