Got the frantic phone call Saturday night asking me to come take care of the cats while they were gonna be gone for the week. And yes, its way over on the other side of the city with another half an hour’s worth of traffic. Not to mention that with the weather we’re currently experiencing there’s going to be a lot of perilous crossings through rain soaked streets to deal with. Making it a commuter’s nightmare as other cars vie to cut you off just to get ahead so they can be… What? Home two minutes earlier that night? So in knowing all this I tried using my new found sense of resolve and said no, nope, no can do! But then throughout the incessant dialog that followed it became apparent that there really wasn’t anyone else who would feed them. So I then said “well I guess the cats are going to starve” which didn’t go over too well either. As there was this long stone cold silence on the other end of the line. Like they didn’t know if I was kidding or not, and sometimes I don’t even know whether I am joking or not.
But then the “oh pleases” started and, well, I’m a sucker for feeling needed to the point of being abused. Like just send me in that overextend yourself/just-can’t-say-no-and-mean-it direction and I’m happy way into next week. After all there’s something to be said for being needed and “oh, you’re the only one that can do it” sounds so confidently trustworthy. Though in reality it’s just riding herd over a bunch of frigg’in cats that were talking about here for Christ’s sake. Not bathing the feet of orphan lepers over at Mum Teresa’s. So when all is said and done I’m guessing that there will be no commemorative sainthood medals being forged with my name and likeness stamped upon them depicting this gracious deed!
Saint Fromage: The patron saint of feline feeders everywhere.
But then of course it wasn’t enough to be content with me just driving miles out of my way to serve these mangy beasts their meals. The negotiations now had me house sitting as well. And why you ask? Because the grubby little beasts get fed twice a day! Twice a frigg’in day! And, and get this! They get lonely! I cannot begin to tell you just how this tweaks the strings of my beating heart! The little bastards get lonely!
So Sunday night finds me packing up my meager belongings as well as my dirty laundry. Because there’s a washer and dryer just sitting there unattended and ya think I’m daft and not gonna take advantage of the situation? And here I am mentally compiling a list as to what I’ll need at work and what I’ll need after work. And do I need an alarm clock or do I need to bring my own toothpaste because these people are civilized right! And they go to work and they gotta brush their teeth. But to what extent do I really want to rely on their accoutrements to keep me happy? What if their alarm clock is all loud or worse a god damn wind up contraption from the dark ages that actually ticks and tocks?
Then of course there’s the food dilemma, mine, not the furry little fuck headed cats. And do I gotta buy food for the week? And do they have anything other than slabs of bacon and sausages rolling around their fridge like the proverbial lost tribes of Israel on an Atkins binge? Or is the only available bit of non-flesh going to be a sorry wilted head of iceberg lettuce that’s obviously seen better days as its been hermetically sealed in that veggie crisper drawer down there somewhere at the bottom below the condiments and half drunk bottles of stale red wine?
Anyway against my better judgment I’m in the car driving while the rain is coming down in blinding sheets with gale force winds as I turn onto Kearny Street and head across downtown. Honking my horn and gesturing like a madman at the driver of the car in the next lane over. Who returns the same and cuts me off again as we both try and run the yellow light. Left on Broadway and through the tunnel and all of a sudden its like I emerged into another world. With non-graffiti covered buildings and no flying bits of trash only tree leaves blowing across the street and I can’t see a soul on the sidewalk let alone anyone pushing a shopping cart full of soggy belongings while howling at the moon.
Mercifully; after ten more minutes of being unable to actually see the street or the traffic lights for that matter due partially to my ailing defroster rather than the actual rain storm. I’m finally there and with a sigh of relief I pull into a readily vacant parking place right in front of their building and start to unload my meager gear. And even in this miserable pouring rain I’m all responsible like and so I grab their mail as well as what appear to be a few dozen home shopping catalogs with one hand and then open the front door with the other while precariously balancing dirty laundry and a brown paper bag full of my life.
Fumbling in the dark I go upstairs to the front hallway and the awaiting herd of cats all go Halloween puffy like and just stare at me as if I’m the grim reaper dressed in black and then they shriek in unison and run away in a million different directions! Obviously in need of company and lonely they is! So unbelievably lonely that I don’t see them for the next hour as I’m busy changing out of my rain soaked clothing and putting my stuff up in the spare bedroom. And then slowly I can sense them creeping out of hiding to stare at me from across the room or hovering in the corridors only to race away anytime that I move whether its in their direction or not.
“God damn, I’m living in the lap of luxury” is what I’m thinking as I’m putting my dirty clothes into the washing machine and then checking the refrigerator for snacks. And while cranking up the furnace’s thermostat I’m just plain digging on the fact that I can walk form one room to another and still be in the same flat. Where if I was at home and I did this I’d be down the hall in my next-door neighbors crib and that’s a scary thought. A very scary thought especially depending on which neighbor’s apartment it was that I’d be invading.
Meanwhile the storm shows no signs of abating as the rain continues thundering down on the skylights above me and I’m contemplating watching cable on the giant TV in the living room or sparking up the bad boy iMac in the den. When all of a sudden with a loud click type grand finale of a sound it all goes black and I’m standing there in the dark thinking. “Just because I’ve got every available light and appliance in the entire house turned on did I overload the circuits?” However when I look out front onto the street I notice that the whole block is dark without a light on anywhere. And as I open the window to investigate further someone who must be one of the neighbors yells “The powers out! Hey everybody, the powers out!”
Like no shit its out and if this was my neighborhood it be loot’in time! Though out here in this nice neighborhood, one void of liquor stores on every corner, I think that they’d call it something more along the lines of home invasion.
But anyway, here I am in a large pitch blackened house without a clue as to where there’s a flashlight or candles and I can feel the cats scurrying around in front of me like a pack of wildebeests as I search for some sort of illuminating device. And in the hall closet there’s a huge dry cell battery flashlight but its dead to the world without even a slight glow to the bulb and after searching for a good twenty minutes all that I can find are some of those little votive candles that give off as much light as a cigarette lighter. So I light a few and put them in the living room and now I’m sitting on the big overstuffed couch thinking that this does indeed suck and even more than I had imagined that it would!
Naturally one by one the cats start slinking into the dark cold living room on the pretense to be near me or at least in the hopes that I’m really gonna be able to do something about this dilemma of ours. And a few of them climb onto my lap or plop down almost on top of me. Probably to suck the body heat out of me as a survival technique and while they’re licking their lips I can almost hear them contemplating whether I’d make a nice big snack once I become too weak from starvation. While the other half of the brood are circling the outer perimeter like sharks on a blood trail all the while sizing up how to slit my throat in the easiest least complicated way possible. And its right about this time that I start thinking that even in the dark I should feed these boyos and once and for all prove my usefulness as a human can opener with opposable thumbs and all.
So with only the light from a small dripping candle to guide me I am more than a little surprised to find a note on the kitchen table, no, let me rephrase that. It’s a frigg’in hand written instruction manual on cat feeding and everyone of these little bastards quirks and phobias are there pinpointed in minute detail like a clinical analysis for me to follow as if I’m really gonna cater to their little kitty whims!
“They’re just fucking cats!” I scream to no one in particular. However I am only too sure that if I did bellow it out the front window that “mister next door neighbor” would be quite interested. It just sort of seems that he likes to communicate extremely obvious things in this sort of uncouth manner. Yet my howling only sends all the little hairy beasties scurrying in a mass hysteria of claws scraping on hardwood floors as bits of errant fur fly. Unfortunately I’m starting to smell something unpleasant and it is then that I follow my nose to the cat box in the corner of the pantry and in the slight glow of my one waning votive candle there appears to be a major conspiracy of overflowing cat turds. As one or maybe all of the happy felines in a group get together has somehow shoved most of the litter out of the box and onto the linoleum floor.
And you know? Thoughts of how things just couldn’t be getting any better seem to be floating through my mind right about now. As by the ever dimming light I’m busy scooping up piles of cat shit and bits of sticky litter. With what looks like a large slotted spoon that I’m hoping with its proximity to the litter-box is used for such endeavors. And its moments like this where I know why I don’t have any kids of my own. Or pets. Or any friends for that matter. And then like a sign from some ancient primordial god the lights flash back on and I am only too sure that this is going to be one of the longest weeks of my entire life.