Thursday, December 4, 2008

We Used To Have A Cat

I just woke up after a nap after I got back from the doctor. I am O.K. (as O.K. as I was before). The doctor said the reason I feel like crap and why everything tastes like crap is the antibiotics I am on have actually created a bacteria in my mouth. All I have to do is stop taking the antibiotics and suck on some lozenges three times a day. It would be nice if I can taste food again. There is a Mexican restaurant on the Ave, Memo's, that I want to go to and my birthday is coming up at the end of January (29th).

I received an email from my friend Marianne today. We worked together at the University of Washington's Chemistry Department. Marianne is really into cats. She volunteers with a cat clinic and PAWS, or someplace similar, that sets up cat adoption and is a foster mother to 7-10 cats. She is not a "cat lady" she is a cat person. She just really likes cats and she really likes placing cats in good homes.

We used to have a cat. The home that is. When I arrived at the nursing center 13 months ago the home had an old orange cat named Mrs. Beasely (pictured above). Feel free to use the comments to tell me if I am right or wrong, but I think she was an orange tabby or an Angora. I just know she was orange and she had really long fur, which shed like crazy, which is why I didn't pet her very much until most of her hair was shaved off last spring. I love cats but am allergic to long haired cats (short haired cats, not so much). I had a friend named Julie who had a cat named Princess, and a terrier named Sissy, who would immediately crawl on top of me, Sissy on my lap, and Princess up on my shoulder. It was nice. I also had a friend named Petra whose one-eyed cat, The General, used to lick my bald head whenever I shaved it. I was salty, I guess. I love animals, mostly, and they love me too, mostly.

I say Mrs. Beasely was the home's cat, because sometime last August she disappeared. Since she was at least 15 years old (probably older) my guess is that she crawled off to die somewhere. I know she had medical issues. She was in the hospital almost as much as she was at the home. A few years ago, I used to live with a couple who had two very old cats and both of them (the cats), at different times, crawled off to a quiet place to die (the basement).

Most people agreed that Mrs. Beasely too probably found a quiet place to pass away. Some thought maybe raccoons got at her (residents and staff have seen raccoons around here). One crazy staff member was convinced my then-roommate Eddie (who someday I will write a book about) ate Mrs. Beasley. Not killed. Not stolen away and left somewhere as a stray, but actually ate the cat. There is a lot of bad things people said about Eddie, some of them true, but a cat eater he wasn't. Not even a cat killer.

Anyway, people missed Mrs. Beasely so I offered to contact Marianne to see if we could get a new cat. After many weeks of debate they agreed and Marianne and our friend/coworker Tracy brought us a new cat. I don't remember its name, and barely remember what it looked like because they kept it locked in the Recreation Department office (a room a little bigger than a broom closet that two people shared with the cat). I wasn't there but they finally brought the cat out and it "scratched" a patient so it couldn't be the nursing home's cat. I don't know what happened with the cat. I don't know if they gave it back to Marianne or if one of the recreation people adopted it (they all said they loved it). Either way, the home is currently, and for the time being cat-less. (Though the home did get a new widescreen TV for the lobby).

You can only imagine how much a cat or dog cheers up the cheerless. People who seem to be in a vegetative state suddenly brighten up around a pet. It's like in Yellow Submarine when the Beatles are singing "All You Need Is Love" (or "Baby Your A Rich Man," I forget which) that as John Lennon waves his magic baton formerly black and white people burst into colors. There frowns turned upside down. Occasionally someone will bring in a dog. Sometimes it's a family member bringing in their Corgi or Yorkshire Terrier to visit a family member, and once a month, someone from "pet therapy" will bring in their yellow lab around for a visit.

I would like a dog, maybe a cat, but I'd rather have a dog. It's a lot of responsibility and right now I can't even take care of myself. And looking for a handicapped apartment is hard enough without looking for a place that takes pets too. If I could have a dog, any dog, I would probably want a long-haired Chihuahua. I had one (actually two) when I was very little. The first one, Taco, was black and brown and I got him when I was four years old. He died when my house burned down when I was in the third grade. I am still upset about it. I loved Taco. Apparently when I was observing the burnt remains of our house with my Mother (my Father was flying home from Vietnam for four weeks hardship leave) I asked her what happened to my dog. A reporter who was there, or his editor at The Daily Olympian, thought it would be a funnier human interest story if I said "Mommy, what happened to the TV?" I still want to punch that fucking reporter in the face, even he is probably in his seventies now.

The second long-haired Chihuahua that I had was white and her name was Harriet, named after a Navy friend of my Mom and Dad's, Harry (somebody..I just remember he was a very nice guy and drove a brand new green and black Mach 1 Mustang). I loved her too, Harriet. Maybe even as much as Taco. She was as much my Mom's dog as she was mine. We were living in a trailer at the time on our property in Little Rock, WA (about 15 miles south of Tumwater) while our house was being rebuilt. ur house was at the end of a quarter-mile driveway, which was at the end of a mile long dirt road that had two farms and one other house on it.

One day my Mom was coming up the driveway. Harriet always knew before anyone else that a car was coming up the drive, and I don't know how, but she could tell my Mom's car from every other car. Harriet bolted out the screen door and ran out to meet my mother. can guess how it ended and you would probably be right.

I've had a few dogs since then, the last one was almost 20 years ago, and though I loved them, I will always have a special place in my heart for Taco and Harriet.

I used to have two dogs.

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