At first, I thought it was just an oil-stained orange rag beneath the souped-up Camaro in the parking lot of the Combs Motel in Hazard, Kentucky. Then, a voice from within urged me to look closer. I did, and realized the oil-stained rag was actually an oil-stained kitten—barely breathing, eyes matted shut, with a stripe of Valvoline from nose to tail. I didn’t know if I could keep him alive, but I had to try. I wriggled under the car, carried him out, and wrapped him in a tee shirt. While washing his eyes out with warm water in the motel bathroom, I decided to call him Oscar, after the trash-can dwelling grouch on Sesame Street.
At this point, I had no intention of adopting him. I already had three other cats and a dog. But, I would do what I could to save him. He was too weak to eat on his own. so I bottle-fed him, which essentially required taking him everywhere I went if I was going to be gone for longer than eight hours. I bought him a fluffy, red teddy bear as a substitute for litter mates. I took him to the vet. After a couple of weeks of tender, loving care, it was obvious he was going to make it…and he was not going anywhere.
It took the oil-stripe nearly a year to grow out. During that time, he developed quite the personality. It could best be described as perpetually-pissed off, earning him the title of Oscar Brown, Meanest Cat in Town. God, but how that little orange tabby cat swatted, growled, head-butted, and hissed his way into my heart. I was never able to look at his grumpy little face without smiling…until he got sick.
Two years ago, while we were residing on a boat at Royalties Marina, Oscar took seriously ill. As I do, I wrote about that horrifying day in another blog, which you can read HERE. After tons of tests, the diagnosis was Pneumocystosis, a serious form of fungal pneumonia caused by Mallard duck droppings, meaning he would need a strict regimen of lifelong meds. Once again, if I was going to be gone for longer than eight hours, Oscar had to go along, too.
Since his diagnosis, he’d had mostly good days…a few bad…a couple really, scary bad. And, we’ve known that the Fluconazole would sooner or later take a toll on his liver. I’d always asked Oscar to let me know when it was time…when he was ready to go…when there were more bad days than good. He did so, beginning last Friday, in the form of a hunger strike. He just stopped eating, absolutely refusing to taste a morsel of even his favorite food.
On Monday, I called our veterinarian.
“What else can we do?” I asked, desperate.
“I’m afraid there’s nothing else. Quite frankly, I’m surprised he’s made it this long.”
“So, we just have to let nature take its course?”
“Or we can opt for euthanasia, which would be the most humane thing to do if he’s in pain or suffering.”
“How do we know if he’s suffering?”
“Only you can decide that. You know him best. It’s up to you.”
And that is the very hardest part of being a pet parent--accepting that you must experience the pain of their death, so they don’t have to experience a painful life.
Yesterday morning, just as I did over a decade ago, I looked at a weak and barely-breathing, now twelve-year-old, kitten and had to decide whether or not I could keep him alive. This time, I knew the answer was no. As hard as it was going to be, I had to let go. For him, it was time. Our veterinarian agreed to come to our house. That afternoon, with Oscar snugged in between Frank and myself on his favorite blanlet, we said goodbye.
And now, there is a gaping Oscar-shaped hole in my heart and an empty place in our family. It is truly amazing what a huge impact a tiny, orange kitten made in all our lives. Oscar Brown, to me, you will forever be the most-missed cat in town.
For all of those,
Who implored of me,
“Where did you get
Such a massive tree?
And, especially, those
Who went on a rant,
About us killing,
Such a majestic plant.
It was Frank’s client...
You can blame her,
She thought she had bought,
A wee “dwarf” fir.
But then the tree,
Grew and grew and grew,
Until it began,
To obstruct her view.
So she decided,
To chop it down,
Right on down,
To the cold, hard ground.
Frank could not stand,
To see it die for naught,
So, into our living room,
It was brought.
At first, I cried,
“That thing is absurd,
We don’t have the lights,
To fill one third.
But the more,
I looked upon the tree,
The more it started,
To grow on me.
So, now I have,
Accepted my Fate,
I will tinsel and trim,
To honor and
The life of this Tannenbaum.
This was the view from the back deck of The Hide-A-Way, a cabin perched in the Smoky Mountains where Frank and I spent several weekends getting back to nature and into mischief in Gatlinburg, TN. This structure and the surrounding forest were completely destroyed by the recent wildfires. I penned this poem after our first stay at this special place.
Embraced by the mountains and sky,
Watched over by the oak and pine,
Befriended by the hawk and owl,
The cabin looks calmly down at the forest below.
A powerful peace resides here,
Always eager for visitors,
Especially the young and the young-at-heart.
Flowers stage a fragrant rebellion and taunt the honeybees.
Laughter plays hide-and-seek with the July fireflies.
Leaves tell stories of mountain men and star-crossed lovers.
Snow keeps secrets told by dreamers beneath handmade quilts.
In all seasons,
The cabin whispers,
“Welcome to the Hide-A-Way,
Make certain to enjoy your stay.”
If you’d told Jane three words would destroy her life, she’d have guessed they might be “You have cancer” or “You’re under arrest” or “President Elect Trump.” She would have never pinned it on this particular trio. Nor would she have thought her demise would occur on Thanksgiving, the most wholesome of holidays.
When the doorbell rang that morning, she’d assumed it was her parents arriving early. Instead, she found her neighbor on the porch with a condescending smile and bouquet of fresh-cut peonies. “I thought you could use some cheering up.”
"Why?" Jane was more curious than concerned.
“You don’t know? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.” Celeste’s twinkling eyes told a different story. “There’s no easy way to say this, but—”
Next, came the three words. Then, Celeste took out her crystal-encrusted cell phone to offer video proof.
Not knowing whether to panic or pray, Jane opted for both.
Why is this happening? I’m a good person. Right, God? I attend midnight mass on Christmas, donate to the ASPCA, and drive a hybrid. Oh Lord, please let my boss never see this…or my mother…or Patrick...especially not Patrick.
The whole thing began the previous day with a coupon, craving, and subpar plastic. Sav-A-Mart was offering turkey for ninety-nine cents a pound and carried her all-time favorite pumpkin pie, so despite it being across town, Jane went.
It was a delightfully uneventful trip, right up until she left the store. That’s when her shopping bag broke sending the turkey on a collision course with her left foot. The initial pain was rapidly replaced by absolute anger—blind fury that Vesuviused in a molten string of obscenities.
Nearby, a woman piling sturdy, reusable totes into the back of a Volvo abruptly stopped, glared, and covered her toddler’s ears.
This only bolstered Jane’s wrath. She reared back and kicked the frozen fowl. It went wobbling across the parking lot. Then, like a deranged soccer star, she booted the Butterball all the way back to her car. But just before reaching the SUV, she miscalculated the turkey’s trajectory, tripped over it, and splayed onto the pavement, dumping her pie in the process. Instead of attempting to get up or regain composure, Jane burst into sobs and began scooping handfuls of gravel-specked, pumpkin custard straight off the ground and shoveling it into her mouth.
By the time she saw the kid filming on his iPhone, it was too late.
“What came over you?”
Jane just gave a silent shrug, but she knew the answer.
Perimenopausal rage. It’s a real condition.
Celeste shoved the flowers in Jane’s direction. “As of an hour ago, the video had been viewed five hundred thousand times.”
Jane didn’t know whether it was the cloying scent of the blooms or immensity of the number, but she nearly vomited on the spot.
“It’ll probably be up to a million by dinner.” Celeste smirked and again uttered those three wicked words, “You’ve gone viral.”
He done come to town,
The Village Inn right down.
The cruel “Closed” sign upon the door,
Taunts us with “No more. No more.”
No more pot roast. No more pie.
No more Friday catfish fry.
No more cornbread, no more beans,
No more fatback collard greens.
No cheap, first dates,
For young lovers.
No gab and gossip,
For bored mothers.
Got nowhere to eat.
Got nowhere to meet.
The motive for my mourning,
Is simple and pure,
Now, I got no more
Sunday hang-over cure.
Folks are growing lean.
Spirits are growing mean.
Worst times I’ve seen.
Since that Halloween…
When Crazy Old Man Handy,
Put razors in the candy.
That restaurant was the soul of this place.
Now, there’s a hateful, hungry space.
Our sustenance has vanished without a trace.
Our salad days have ended,
Our hearts have been rended,
A dark cloud has descended,
Since the day,
Came to town,
The Village Inn right down.
The streetlights turned the snow into diamonds. Gloria stared out the window at the sparkling white, feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. For two days, a rare blizzard had assaulted the Midwest. Plummeting temperatures followed. A foot of precipitation. Record-setting, single digit lows. The conditions were perfect.
I hope I dream of tigers. The thought fleeted through her mind and then loped off across the frozen landscape.
Gloria skipped to the closet and flung open the doors. The red ball gown beckoned from where it had hung in anticipation since being purchased last spring. The vivid scarlet would play perfect against the alabaster backdrop. She slipped the taffeta dress over her head and let it fall onto her freshly-showered skin. It felt cool against her paleness. After zipping up the bodice and fluffing the crinolines of the tea-length skirt, she retrieved a pair of stilettos in the same deep crimson and slid them onto her feet.
On the bedside table, a bottle of champagne was chilling in a sterling silver bucket filled with crushed ice. Next to it, a plethora of pills were arranged in neat rows. Gloria popped the cork allowing a plume of foam to escape. She poured a crystal flute full of the effervescent liquid, and then dropped onto the edge of the mattress. With great reverence, she picked up a single blue tablet.
In the movies, the actors always popped the entire handful of pills into their mouths all at once. It seemed so disrespectful. Gloria planned to relish the experience. So, she took them one by one, and washed each down with a sip of Krug.
After ingesting all thirty, she grabbed her laptop and, out of sheer habit, checked her Facebook invitations. As she perused the long list of events, a sudden sense of relief set in at not having to decide whether she was interested in going or not. Next, she navigated to her own page. 863 friends. 126 followers. After a few moments of thought, she updated her status to two words--cellophane wizard, no caps. Let people ponder. Gloria slammed the computer shut and gave it a haphazard toss across the covers.
Within an hour, the soporific effects of the bubbles and barbituates were beginning to take hold. Time for a change of scenery.
Gloria made her way to the door that led into the backyard, stepped outside, and teetered through the drifts to the Japanese maple he’d planted for her when they first moved in. Trying to disturb as little of the pristine powder as possible, she lay down in the snow. Despite the frigid conditions, a yawn escaped her lips. Then, a smile formed as she recalled what she’d read about hypothermia. The ingestion of alcohol and drugs gives a false sense of warmth and increases the risk of death through several mechanisms.
Nestled in the white, Gloria closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep…perchance to dream of tigers.
I once had a dream...
I was roller-skating through a rainforest in a red satin ball gown,
Escorted by mammoth-moths with peacock-patterned wings,
Swooping and looping to the whir-whir-whirring of my wheels.
But when I returned home from my rendezvous, I realized,
That somewhere along the way, I’d lost my vagina.
I rushed to rainforest Lost and Found
It was located in a tree trunk and manned by a native named Makuna Timberlake the Third.
Frantically, I asked, "Click clack-clack clickity click clack click?"
Makuna presented me with a box brimming with vaginas.
I rifled through the misplaced muffs desperate to find my own,
Tossing twats to and fro...
Then, it hit me...
I had no idea what my vagina looked like,
At least, not in any specific sense.
Any pussy in the pile could have been mine.
Next night, I had the same dream...
Except the moths had morphed into thirsty mosquitoes,
And my roller skates were ill-fitting wooden clogs,
And Makuna was Martha Stewart scolding me,
"I told you, 'labeling your vagina is a good thing'."
Third night—it was pterodactyls, snowshoes, and legendary serial killer Henry Lee Lucas at the Lost and Found.
I awoke knowing there was only one way to stop the nightmares--I must confront the cunt.
So, I moved to the mirror, stripped and sat astraddle...
Legs spread wide and confident...
An Indian princess riding a royal pacaderm.
And then…I looked at it.
Oh my God... I thought…
It would take Jesus, Jenna Jameson and Jacques Cousteau
To explain what I had witnessed down below,
A creature that could flourish on the ocean's floor,
Pulsing pink, lascivious lips, the ultimate predator.
I assumed it couldn’t be normal.
There had to be something debauched about my crotch.
Forlorn, I turned to porn,
To find a match for my snatch.
After more than my share,
Of contrast and compare,
I found there was none.
Mine looked nothing like the pierced, plucked,
Delicate daisies that grew between their thin thighs.
That night over dinner I was lamenting aloud,
When one knowledgeable queer from the crowd,
Exclaimed, "What you have, my dear, is a full-blown rose.
In some cultures, that would keep you drowning in beaus.
However, many in polite society find them...
Well...for lack of a better term...nasty,
Have you ever considered labioplasty?"
For months, I crossed-my legs,
Tight with all my might,
Certain that every stranger,
Was aware there was something different and dangerous,
Looming in my loins.
All that summer I refused to go near the water,
For fear of the slaughter,
That might occur if the monster broke free from my bikini.
What is someone was bitten by my kitten....and it was rabid?
To cause a further diversion,
I grew my pussy's coat from Domestic Shorthair to Persian.
It was exhausting shielding the world from my vagina.
Come fall, I had no more energy to be appalled,
So I said, "To hell with it," and shaved the damn thing bald.
That night, I had another dream...
White doves, spike heels, and Javier Bardeem,
At the Lost and Found.
I asked, "Have you seen my full-blown rose?"
He took out a crystal box and put it to his nose,
Then, held it out for my inspection.
I immediately recognized the fabulous, fuchsia flower.
He said, "My lady, I believe this treasure must be thine."
I swelled with pride, "Yeah, baby, that vagina is mine."
Some years later,
I am thrilled to report,
My vagina is now,
My most trusted cohort.
My confidante. My top advisor. My muse.
Whether battling writer’s block, buying a stock, choosing a cock,
I leave it to my twat to sort out what’s what.
And it never fails me.
Hell, when my snazzy is in top form,
It can predict a thunder storm.
Seriously, I can’t I believe I once deemed it,
Inferior, Indecent, Inedible,
Because, put quite simply,
My vagina is incredible.
And, so is yours.
We've become a nation afraid to look one another in the eye.
We must strive for a society that makes eye contact, because...
Seriously, it's science. Read why in this article from the Stanford School of Medicine. So, how about it? Let's all take a good, long look at each other.
So, let me set the scene. Frank and I are listening to the oldies station, which is the only one that comes in remotely clear at Bohemian Bay. The angelic voice of Minnie Ripperton is crooning the lyrics to "Loving You"
Lovin' you is easy cause you're beautiful...la-la-la-la.la-la-la...
Frank: Is loving me easy?
Me: No. Loving you is like being strapped to a bucking bronco, then shoved into a bouncy castle that is affixed to a Tilt-A-Whirl, which is located on Bourbon Street during the height of Mardi Gras with a hurricane barreling down on New Orleans...but I do it anyway. And, always will.
And this is what marriage to a marvelous man with awesome ADHD is like--exciting, exhausting, scary, sexy, dizzying, fun, and infuriating, but totally worth it.
the bourbonistA, Promoting Debauchery and stamping out political-correctness one blog at a time.