Hmm… having spent New Year’s weekend reading the 2009 memoir, Homer’s Odyssey, I feel a bit tacky offering up this piece. Really, I kinda do.
Let me explain. If you haven’t read Gwen Cooper’s charming book, then here’s what you need to know: it is a remarkable account of a person/animal relationship. And in this case, the person happens to be a woman, and the animal happens to be a cat.
Reading Homer’s Odyssey, I was absolutely captivated. I mean, I gotta face it… admit it: my long-term relationships have always been with cats. And so I love the stories that describe those relationships.
Joy Adamson and Elsa (of Born Free fame) used to be my go-to when I thought of such relationships. But, last weekend, that story got supplanted. By Homer’s Odyssey.
Sorry, Joy and Elsa. Gwen and Homer are the deal. The real deal.
Never have I enjoyed crying so much.
But, oh dear, I’m getting maudlin. And we don’t want that, do we? I know how to fix that, and I’ll do it fast. I’ll return to my original intention. I’ll return to the story that earned the title of this post.
You should know, before you read further, that this piece is a bit graphic. (A “bit?” Who are we kidding!) I tried to share the story with my sister, over the phone. She wouldn’t allow me past what will be the first reference to puking.
(And SHE’S GIVEN BIRTH! Hello?)
Anyway, proceed with caution.
Which is to say, consider yourself forewarned.
… The weeks of December were tense for me, and on the night of Monday, December 18th, I had a major epiphany. I realized why the end of the year always feels so frenetic.
It isn’t the shopping, which I don’t do. (I give presents to people when I feel like it; not when some holiday tells me I should.)
It isn’t the December parties, which I avoid.
It isn’t some need to go to religious services, because… I just don’t affiliate.
No, it’s because I am a consultant. And what that means is this: I don’t work for one organization; I work for several. And what that means is that I am answering to about 6-8 bosses, all of whom are slamming to get work done before the holidays.
Not only that, but the work we are doing (grant proposals, mostly) is deadline-driven. Throwing something on the back burner just isn’t an option. Not if you want to get the money.
And this is money that is sorely needed. … It goes to afterschool projects, domestic violence shelters, and teen pregnancy prevention programs. It goes to the arts. It goes to educational curricula that help children think lovingly. This money makes a difference in our world.
… The morning after my epiphany, I was at my workstation (i.e., the southwest corner of my kitchen). I was anticipating the deadline-meeting day ahead. I’d just got up and made my first cup of coffee.
And, as is my routine, I traveled the internet while waiting for the caffeine to kick in (at which point, I would begin the all-important billable hours).
Within a few moments, I heard a retching sound behind me, and I was not surprised that it was Vesta, the senior of my two cats.
She was puking.
Just behind my wheeled office chair.
Which is when I knew I could not back up those wheels any time soon.
No, I’d need to wait at least 10 minutes.
I’d need to give her and Lotto time to gobble up the puke and make it go away.
(It’s what animals do, people. Regurgitation as feeding. If you’re not familiar, check out March of the Penguins.)
And so I waited, confident that when I eventually rolled back, my desk chair’s wheels would not spin up anything wet.
But as I waited, something else happened.
Lotto (younger, larger cat), who had partaken of Vesta’s puke, walked over to the middle of the kitchen floor and proceeded to do a remarkable impersonation of George H.W. Bush in Japan.
I’m talking projectile vomit.
I’m talking ICK.
And then he moved to a distance further away from me and puked a bit more.
I decided I needed to remain at the desk for at least ten minutes more.
… When I eventually arose from my chair, I was happy to see that the first instance of puke (the one that had been deposited directly behind my chair) was indeed pretty much gone. Sure, a few tell-tale signs, but mostly, gone.
Then, I moved closer to the area of the Bush impersonation, and looking at it, I started to gag.
I coughed in a choking way.
I started to wonder if I would puke.
And what made me gag/choke even more was my wondering: if I puke, will the cats eat it?
Oh my God, this is just becoming so gross, isn’t it?
… Yes, it is, and here’s why.
I don’t mind cleaning up cat puke.
But cleaning up cat puke that is puked-up cat puke is more than I can stand, and that’s why I had issues with the liquid piles that Lotto had left. It wasn’t his own puke. It was Vesta’s. Recycled.
(I’m gagging as I type.)
Fortunately and wisely, I just left large, multi-layered paper towel pilings where he had retched, and I waited a while.
I waited until my impulse to choke had subsided.
Once it had, I cleaned up the mess and met the day’s deadlines. Then, while telling this story to my mom over the phone, I had the best laugh I’d had in about two weeks.
Happy New Year.
(And speaking of 2012, with this being a major election year, I suspect we’ll have much to gag, choke, and puke about in the coming months. Should be fun. Keep paper towels in stock, folks!)