Friday, December 30, 2011

Hobie Cat's Last Ride

 Our cat of 10 years ago, Hobie (get it, Hobie Cat), was certifiably insane. We got an inkling of this when she began to eat plastic dry cleaning bags, or portions of them anyway, and throw up disgusting things in the house. So she was banished to (shudder shudder) the outdoors. This necessitated that I become involved in the logistics of making her excommunication as humane as possible. We didn’t want to be cruel. So I had to put in two cat doors that would allow Hobie to come into the garage to get warm, and on into the laundry room where we would keep bowls of water and cat food for her.

*insert here clip from The Godfather where Vito Corleone says to Tom Hagen “We’re not murderers, regardless of what this undertaker thinks”*

A determined albeit unskilled do-it-yourselfer, I began the task of installing the two cat doors (not good for resale) starting with the laundry room door. I discovered that they sell pet doors but they don’t tell you how to install them. So, under the influence of that old handyman adage: “measure twice – cut once”, I measured and measured and measured. Only problem was, I had the door off its hinges, lying across two sawhorses when this measuring was done. So it was only after I had finished installing the pet door and had begun to put the utility room door back on the hinges that I discovered a problem.  I had installed the pet door, not in the bottom left corner as planned, but in the top left corner.  I told no one. I just sneaked back to Lowe’s for another door.

Hobie grew progressively worse in the psychiatric department. She hid in the crawlspace beneath the neighbor’s house and uttered moans that could only be described as macabre. Maybe blood curdling. Anyway, they were loud, long and guttural sounds that frightened the neighbor's two small children in the middle of the night. The neighbor’s name was Jamie. He came over one day while I was outside and began the conversation with, “Is that your cat?” I knew this wouldn’t turn out well.

He told me about the moaning. He was nice about it, but the message was clear. Also disturbing was the fact that Hobie had begun the nasty habit of bringing home trophy kills and depositing them on the welcome mat. Mice, mostly. Some song birds. One very large Blue Jay. I wondered how in the world she managed to catch these birds. Were birds really that slow? I have to say I was as impressed as I was disgusted.

Although we did our best to care for her, Hobie's health soon began to fail and on the rare occasions when we saw her it was shocking to see her looking so scraggly.

“Just do it and don’t tell me about it until after it’s over,” Lorraine said to me one day.

“Do what?” I asked.

“You know… take care of Hobie,” she said.

“Oh… you mean eliminate her,” I said, doing my best mobster impersonation. “Wax her. Neutralize her. Take her out of action. Do her. ”

“Stop it!” she cried.

I was still going. “The big sleep. Off her. Turn out her lights….”

“I mean put her out of her misery,” she said quietly. I shut up.

I agreed to do it but I was uncomfortable about it. I understood mercy killing….when other people did it. But this was different. I guess my job in relation to the family pets was to serve as installer of custom entry doors and, oh yeah, hit man.

A few days later I caught a glimpse of Hobie, slinking around the front porch. She had just deposited a fresh kill at the front door and was waiting for someone to find it. It was then that an idea was born. It would give Hobie a chance at life and keep me from being a cat assassin. I put Hobie in the trunk of the car muttering, “We’re going for a little ride in the country, old girl,"

I drove west until I found the bucolic scene for which I was searching. There, in the twilight, was a small, friendly wood-frame farm house with outbuildings. A scene right out of “The Waltons” I reckoned. A driveway bordered by a wood fence curved up from the main road toward the front door. It was early spring and a wisp of smoke curled up from a red brick chimney and the windows of the small house glowed orange in the fading light. What an idyllic rural setting for Hobie’s new life! There was a pond nearby and I think I saw another cat or two, but I can’t be sure. In any case, I drove down the driveway as far as I dared, as if to turn around, and popped the trunk and let Hobie out. I wished her well and hoped that some kind soul would adopt her. If they didn’t, I reasoned, she would still be all right, wouldn’t she? Hadn’t she already proven her hunting skills beyond any reasonable doubt? If she was that good at living off the land, then certainly she would come to a better end here than she would at the hands of the evil Doctor VetVorkian!

Satisfied, I headed home. My cell phone rang and I answered it. It was a friend and they asked me what I was up to. So I told them about “taking Hobie for a ride” and didn’t think anything about it. He told his wife, however, and she told my wife and I got the hysterical call at work the following day.
We drove to the scene of the "crime" and combed the woods near the farm house calling the cat’s name, but of course there was no Hobie. I went to the farm house to inquire if they had seen a lost cat. Nope. We eventually sold that house with its superflous cat doors (very bad for resale) and what happened to Hobie is still a touchy subject. Lorraine’s vision is one of a small, helpless, Kibbles N Bits-fed little kitty being torn to pieces by feral dogs. I see a kind hearted farmer's wife, her gray hair in a bun, sitting by a fire, knitting, rocking, with Hobie softly purring by her slippered feet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hurricane Hype

The following rant is brought to you by the makers of the new anti-hysteria medication, Damitall.  Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for Damitall. You may need a dose if you have been watching the weather channel lately and had your stress level escalated by all the hype and hysteria associated with Hurricane Irene. 

Irene is the first significant storm of the year and the Weather Channel is making the most of it.  I'm right here, aren't I? I mean, the weather channel has nothing to do most of the year, right?  Warm front here, cold front there, highs, lows, rain, sun.  Yawwwwnnnnnnn!  But buddy let a hurricane crank up out in the atlantic and they are all over it like a fat kid on a piece of cake. 

Update!!! (dramatic music) A guy in a flack jacket comes on screen.  He stands in front of a bush (leaves blowing in the wind make for good footage).  If there is no wind, he's not above getting one of the boys from the truck to turn on a big fan.  Maybe toss a few palm fronds up in the air and let them whiz by the camera. No, I don't know that for sure, but you know they're thinking it!  I mean they want it to be bad so badly! 

And talk about your superlatives!  They sling around shock words like confetti on New Year's Eve!  It's not a category 3 storm... It's a category 3 MONSTER. And it's not "moving" across the Bahamas... it's SLASHING across the Bahamas. Their producers must grade them on how many alarming adjectives and nouns they can cram into one sentence. Like:  

"This category 3 "BEHEMOTH" is "PACKING" 115 mph winds and will "SLAM" into the coast tonight, "WREAKING HAVOC" on the southeast portion of the state!!  In other words, "Run for your lives!  We're all going to die!"

We lived in Florida when three hurricanes came ashore in 2004.  We heeded the hysteria and left town for the first two storms.  Nothing happened.  Never lost a shingle.  So we stayed home for the third one.  Lost three shingles.  All I'm saying is hold your fire, weather folk.  If you call 'em all "monsters" then we won't believe it when a real one comes along... like Katrina maybe. 

Monday, January 03, 2011

Bowl Games

Arrrgggghhh!  The agony of defeat!

      I am finally tired of college football.
      I'm sorry, folks, but it’s just gone over the top now. I mean, last night I was watching the “Frito-Lay-CrackerJacks-On-Sale-Now-At-Your-Local Stop-N-Shop Bowl" pitting the hapless "Fighting Mollusks" of  Wotsitoo U against the loss-ridden Bean Station College “Raging Roosters”.

     Of course I'm exaggerating. But I do suffer from Bowl Game Overdose!  Whatever happened to the good old days when you had five bowls and they were all played on New Years Day? And the names made sense, too, like Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl. It was bad enough that my beloved (but pitiable this year) Tennessee Vols had to play an equally nondescript North Carolina team in the superfluous “Music City Bowl”. But then some fat cats went and sold their name rights to, of all things, a mortgage company, and it became the linguistically challenged “Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl”, or call it the the “13-syllable-hard-to-say-Bowl” for all the difference it makes.

     Sure, I’m a little bitter about how the game came out. “We wuz ROBBED, I tell you…. ROBBBBED!” But that’s another story.

     Do you know why they call them “bowl” games? Back in 1916, Michigan and Stanford began the tradition of playing in the “Tournament of Roses” game. It was kind of an East-West thing they did at the end of the year. Then they built Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, which, naturally, was shaped like a oval bowl. The name stuck. Now they call any major football event a “bowl”. Like when brothers Peyton and Eli Manning played against each other earlier this NFL season. They called it the “Manning Bowl”. And isn't the Auburn-Alabama game called the “Iron Bowl?”

    I have a few more bowl games to add to the already glutted post-season college football landscape:

TOILET BOWL - game for the two teams with the most penalties (they play dirty, get it?)
EMPTY BOWL - game for the two teams with the poorest attendance records.
DUST BOWL – game for the two teams with the worst offensive records (all they do is just run up and down the field, kicking up dust but never scoring, get it?)
FAST FOOD CAREER BOWL – game for the two teams with the worst academic records.
FURTHER REVIEW BOWL - game played just for officials. They get to review every play. The game will last two days and there will be no clear winner. Even the end of the game will be reviewed until the score becomes moot because no one cares (You would have to have seen the “Franklin-American-Mortgage-Music-City-Bowl” to understand).