Thursday, August 30, 2012

We have fish?




As dog owners, we were completely ill prepared to take in the small kitten that wandered up our driveway the day before.

Usually a little squirt like that would get chased off by the 85-pound Golden Retriever Gestapo guarding the place or, at the very least, the husband who hates...I mean...dislikes...cats.

But this little kitten had gumption. The kind of gumption that made it put one tiny paw in front of the other, waltzing past the crazy canine and right up to the front door like she owned the place.

OK. She had style. A Make My Day ala Dirty Harry kinda style. I could appreciate that.

But that didn’t mean we were handing out Change of Address cards on her behalf any time soon.

“She’s so cute!” my 7-year-old son exclaimed in delight as the tiny feline rubbed against his legs.

But I was tough. That little cat wasn’t the only one to channel her inner Eastwood.

“Don’t touch it,” I immediately snapped. “We don’t want her staying.”

My son’s smile quickly turned into a frown, “Why not?”

I pointed down, “She’s very friendly. Leave her alone, and she’ll move on, find her way back home.”

....yeah. I’m that stupid.

***

The cat fight started later that night.

Spurred into action by screams of terror outside our bedroom window, I jumped out of bed, ran downstairs, threw open the front door and tore into the yard.

Only to see little Dirty Harry up a tree, with the neighbor’s cat not far behind.

So...uh...you know...that’s how the kitten made it into the house that first night.

Nobody chases a little kitten up a tree in MY neighborhood.

Fortunately, emptying the contents of the paper shredder into a small box sufficed as an impromptu litter box. The next morning, we went to our vet’s office to see if the little girl had an ID microchip (no) or a spay scar (also a no) or any leads to her identity (no).

I headed home with the little bundle of fur and the sneaking suspicion I had a new cat.

Knowing she wasn’t spayed meant she couldn’t stay outside while we searched for her family. And a record August summer meant she couldn’t stay in the hot garage.

A + B = We need a real litter box.

So I sent the man, the dog lover, to get - and I quote - “the smallest bag of kitty litter you can find.”

It was like asking for a pop-up tent and getting the Taj Mahal instead.

He returned from the store with two large bags, which included a state-of-the-art litter box. I not-so-politely asked, “What the heck is all that?”

Seriously. You think you know a guy.

So it was time to have a conversation with the male members of the household.

“How many fish do we have?” I asked them.

My son, “Six!”

My husband, “Uh...we have fish?”

I pointed to my son and said, “Wrong.”

I pointed to my husband and asked, “Are you friggin’ kidding me?!”

I stabbed a thumb into my chest, “I think it’s safe to say that adding yet another pet to this household just means more work for me.”

My son leaned over and whispered to his dad, “I really thought there were six.”

“Yes,” I snarked, “until one committed fishy suicide by jumping out of the tank and another became an appetizer for the rest. And now there are four.” 

My son, “What’s an appetizer?”

My husband, clapping a hand over our son’s month said, “Shush!”

“Stop!” I yelled. “Before I go all North Korea on you both!”

My son nudged his dad and asked quietly, “What does that mean?”

“Nothing,” he hushed, “and - for the love of God - do NOT look directly into her eyes. That would be very, very bad right now.”

“Bad like Medusa bad?” my son asked.

(Thank you, Percy Jackson.)

“Yes,” my husband whispered back, “Bad like Medusa bad.”

My son’s lips formed a silent “O.”

***

As I fashioned a little kitty bed out of an old basket and a soft blanket later that night, I knew the battle was lost.

But, in a way, I had won too.

It’s a pretty great feeling to be part of a family that has such huge hearts. Welcome to the family, Lucky the cat.

Just stay away from the fish.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

You're the dirty rascal




Thank God the Olympics are finally over.

Every time I heard the theme from “Chariots of Fire” I had the urge to jump up and run in slow motion around the living room.

Drove the dog nuts.

And speaking of games....

“What kind of games did you play in gym class back in the day,” our 7-year-old son asked one day.

First of all, let’s ignore that fact he actually threw out the phrase “back in the day.”

That hurts, and I just don’t wanna discuss it.

So after rattling off a list of the classics like Dodge Ball and Kick Ball and Red Rover, I added, “We played King of the Mountain too.”

His eyes got THIS BIG and he asked with awe, “What is that?”

I clapped my hands in excitement and began my tale of terror, totally oblivious to my husband wildly waving his hands in the air behind our son.

“First, you’d find the tallest piece of equipment on the playground then climb on top of it.” 

My husband slapped a palm to his forehead and slumped his shoulders in defeat.

My son leaned forward in anticipation and nodded in an “OK, I got you so far” kinda way.

I smiled and continued, “Then you say, ‘I’m the king of the castle, you’re the dirty rascal.’ Then everyone else, one at a time, tries to throw you off.”

I then explained about the center of gravity and how best to beat a person twice your size, how to use a person’s strength against him and how to grab a wrist, twist, then toss.

I threw out my arms and concluded, “Last person standing is crowned King of the Mountain.”

I would have added a “ta-da” on the end, but that didn’t seem very royal.

My son’s response was a well-articulated and excited, “No way.”

I nodded, “Yes way.” I smiled in fond recollection and sighed, “It. Was. Awesome.”

I looked over at my husband and finally noticed the “What in the hell are you doing?” expression that covered his face. 

I shrugged and squealed, “What?” with more than a little exasperation. I was only answering a simple question after all, not giving up the Colonel’s secret recipe or anything.

He cocked his head toward our son and whispered, “Do you really think you should be giving him ideas?”

And then it finally dawned on me.

This is the 21st century, my friend. Where kids wear bike helmets and have car seats and use sunscreen every day. All good habits, of course, but compared to our childhood...it’s like they’re bundled in plastic wrap every morning before we shove them out the door.

For heaven’s sake, their playground equipment is built on top of feather pillows nowadays.

And here I was. In an age of participation ribbons and where nobody keeps score ‘cuz someone’s feelings are gonna get hurt, I sat there, giving him the keys to the kingdom and what was sure to be a one-way ticket to the principal’s office.

Oh.
My.
God.

How stupid were we?

Throwing each other off cracked, metal frames at least 8 feet in the air. With nothing but a sea of cement below us.

It was time to abdicate the throne.

I couldn’t backtrack fast enough. I looked at my son, stern expression in place and ordered, “But that’s not a game you should play because someone could get hurt.”

Since that’s not the first time he’s heard those words, he nodded wisely and agreed, “Gotcha.”

And that was the point my better half spoke up, “Well, some kids played it on top of a big snow pile, you know, so no one got hurt.” He added, “When you pushed someone down, he just rolled to the bottom. No big deal.”

I snorted a not-so-lady-like snort, rolled my eyes and added, “Yeah. Wusses. Wusses played on snow.”

And that’s when I offended his Man Gene.

“Oh, it’s on,” he said, rolling up his sleeves and heading for the door.

I jumped in excitement. The king is dead.

Long live the queen.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

When good things go bad


Seeing a middle-aged guy taking a sledgehammer to a toddler booster seat on a driveway one hot Sunday afternoon could mean two things.

One - somebody’s in a whole heck of a lot of trouble or....

Two - somebody’s wife has been on the Internet again.

***

Earlier that day....

“You’re throwing out the old booster seat?” my husband inquired, seeing where I had placed it on the curb, ready for trash pick-up.

I looked over at the forlorn seat and nodded, “Yep, they said we had to.”

He looked at me questioning and asked, “Who are ‘they’?”

I shrugged, “You know, those people, the ones who make the rules about these kind of things.”

He asked, “‘These kind of things’?”

Ugh! Seriously. I wasn’t expecting to present a dissertation on the subject. I just wanted to clean out the storage room to gear up for our upcoming garage sale.

I said, “Apparently car seats have an expiration date.”

He walked over to the suddenly offensive item, leaned over, took a whiff then asked, “Did it go bad or something?”

I chuckled, “Once they hit the six-year mark after manufacturing, they can’t be considered safe any more.”

And that’s when he noticed the markings along the plastic back. Words like “Expired!” and “Do Not Use!” were written in red ink.

I further explained, “You’re supposed to mark it up so people won’t pick it up and use it.”

He smirked, “Oh, we can do better than that.” He headed into the garage and returned holding - you guessed it - a sledgehammer. 

Women are from Venus.

Men are from the anywhere that endorses high-range explosives and rocket launchers.
Is it any wonder the world is constantly at war?

***

“The garage door broke.”

Four words I wasn’t prepared to hear from my husband later that day.

So I eloquently replied, “Uh, what?”

He crooked a finger in the universal sign of “Come and follow me” then headed for the garage.

It was there I saw the closed garage door with one side separated from the rail and hanging precariously over my car.

Sure. It would be MY side of the garage, wouldn’t it?

A raised eyebrow was my only comment to which my husband threw up his hands in defense and said, “Hey, all I did was hit the button to close it.” He waved his arms wildly in the air, “Then bolts started falling and all hell broke loose.”

Sigh. Stupid home ownership.

I shrugged and said, “It’s Sunday, so I’ll call the guys in the morning.”

And then it hit me.

Both cars were INSIDE the garage. The door was permanently in the down position for the next 24 hours.

It wasn’t like we had planned to go anywhere.

But it was a completely different thing to not be ALLOWED to go anywhere.

It was like being grounded. Except without having had the pleasure of doing something really bad first.

Son-of-a-biscuit!

***

So what happened after we finally made our escape to dinner the next day?

“I’m just a big, old, dumb cock,” our seven-year-old son announced in the Chinese restaurant after reading the placemat and learning he was born under the sign of the cock on the Chinese Zodiac.

Damn literacy.

More than a few heads turned our way in shocked silence. A few chopsticks hit the floor and at least one older lady covered her ears.

See? 

This.

This right here is why our family isn’t allowed out in public anymore.

I’d like to say I reacted with stoic determination, with no hint of smile or adverse reaction what-so-ever.

But the spray of fried rice all over the table kinda gave me away.

I quickly grabbed several napkins from the dispenser and proceeded to clean the table while politely explaining to our son that people on this side of the ocean prefer to use the term “rooster” rather than...well...the other one.

“But why?” our little innocent asked.

I looked to my husband for help, who quickly answered by stuffing an egg roll in his mouth.
Coward.

I rolled my eyes and turned back to my son, “Nevermind. Hey, do you know what a sledgehammer is?”