Friday, September 03, 2004

Lying Down, pt. 3

“Ohhhhh, I think Smokey is nervous!”

The urine dripping from his carrier attested to that.

Personally, I thought that Smokey had it right. It was Friday night, and the waiting room at the emergency vet was hopping. The technicians were kind, but more concerned about collecting my $75 admissions fee than listening to my frantic account of why there might be blood oozing from the front of my cat.

Smokey’s owners cooed at G. “What a beautiful little guy!” I forced a smile, but felt as if I had entered a bizarro universe. Did they not see G.’s red and sticky fur? Did they think we were at a frickin’ picnic? Smokey’s owners chatted merrily to the proud woman with the wormy retriever (“There’s a worm coming out of his butt right now!”) and to the struggling-to-grow-a-mustache kid whose baby pug had dislocated a leg. These pet owners acted like happy conventioneers. Shouting above the din from the waiting room TV, they traded opinions on the rain, sneakers, and back-to-school shopping.

An elderly German Shepherd limped past us with an inverted lampshade around his neck. Smokey’s owners clapped. They clapped when the pug emerged in a teeny cast. (Okay, so that was kind of cute, but should we really applaud an immobilized pup?) They clapped the loudest when the tech invited Smokey to the back.

“Don’t let anyone sit in the pee!” the younger woman called to me cheerfully, hoisting Smokey’s cage from its damp spot. I nodded, repressing the urge to demand why her incontinent cat had trumped my punctured one.

Apparently, Smokey’s posse had been the life of the party. In their absence, the rest of the waiting room grew quiet, save for the high-gloss hairdos babbling on Headline News. “This just in from our education desk: Today’s college freshmen have never known a world without When Harry Met Sally…”

G. is eight, and not a big fan of movies. He adores music, however, and so often reclines, belly-up, in the space between our stereo speakers. If pressed, G. will dance. Or, rather, I bob around the room with him on my shoulder, and G. purrs in time to the beat.

G. spends a good chunk of his days curled either in my lap (where he is now) or beneath the heat of my desk lamp. Every morning when I wake up, he is there. After I’ve hit the snooze bar six, or nine, or eleven times, he is still there. While I’m dressing, G. sits patiently on the bureau, and then stretches out arms to be carried to the kitchen. (This has remained our little ritual, even after Adam took to feeding the cats before I wake up.)

G. has been nicknamed “the koala,” on account of his habit of wrapping forepaws around my neck just like a koala hugging a tree. He knows but one trick, and it is to leap from the ground to my arms. It’s an impressive feat, especially for one so round and soft-bellied as G.

It probably won’t surprise you that there are a lot of photographs of G. If I were to stack these in order and then flip through them rapidly enough, I’d have something close to a home movie. Then G. would grow again from downy baby to mature, Minnesota cat. He’d dally and doze among my grad school books another seven years. He’d make another five country-country trips.

In the home movie, G. would have a second harrowing encounter with an enraged man, G.’s steps tangling with mine as we scrambled up the hallway to avoid the man's blows. And, when that man slammed the back door and departed our lives forever, G. would again come and stand on the tops of my feet. The message was “Don’t leave”; but I think he was also saying, “Don’t fall down.”

A Paris Hilton look-alike (but brunette) sashayed into the vet's waiting room, a cowed-looking black dog in tow. “Oh my God, he’s disgusting!” she said of the dog. “Look at all that dandruffy stuff on his back.”

“It’s not that bad,” whined Paris’ boyfriend, who had now taken the leash. The dog burst into excited barking and lunged for G., whom I quickly slid behind me.

“Your kitty would make a nice snack for my dog,” laughed Paris, as she moved toward Smokey’s bench.

Her joke was so funny that I forgot to warn her about the pee.


At 10:03 AM, Blogger obstreperous_girl said...

Uhm, I just had a bit fat tear run down my face.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger New Kid on the Hallway said...

Ooh, he's curled in your lap! Such a relief to read that! (Am loving this serial, esp. now I can be relieved that he's curled in your lap.)

At 7:35 PM, Blogger What Now? said...

While we're on the subject of kittycats and vets: Our two girls got a clean bill of health today and had their shots renewed, including their rabies shot, which seemed more important than ever after reading your serial story. The vet is testing whether B.'s thyroid medication levels can be lowered (we'll hear next week), and our 11-year-old F. has been declared to have the healthy body of a 5-year-old. All good news. I hope that G.'s news is also good.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Kristiface said...

Oh, I would have offered Miss Paris that seat :) You're making me extra sad for my cat (who's been staying with family while I was away for the summer and should FINALLY be home Wednesday). It's amazing how much love those little fur balls elicit!


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