20 06 2015


I was against this whole cat thing from the beginning. I just want to make that clear. I’ve had pets before – quite a few. None of those pets are currently alive. This may or may not be my fault. 
It’s not that I don’t like puppies and kitties. I’m not a monster. They are cute and fun and furry and all that. I get it. I really do. 
It’s more that when I see a pet I see a JOB. It’s cleaning poop and buying food and remembering to feed them and changing vacation plans because you can’t get a sitter. I barely manage to do all that for Ellis – and she can TALK and stuff. 
Any-hoo – we have the Cat and she has been named and everything. That’s like saying “I Do” in the pet relationship. It’s time to make the best of the situation. 
Omah and Ellis have been reading books about Cats. Lots of books. About Cats. 
How to feed them and raise them. How to talk to them. What surgeries you are allowed to perform on them without being considered a psychopath. 
It turns out there are an incredible number of books about Cats. It’s an entire genre with its own labeled section in the bookstore. It’s about the same size as the “True Crime” section which might be coincidental but I don’t think so. I will say that NEITHER section should be at the top of your “good place to pick up a suitable life-mate” list. 
(In case you are interested that list would be:
1) FICTION – for your most thoughtful and well-rounded mate.
2) NON-FICTION – CELEBRITY AUTHOR – If you are conversant about ALL the Real Housewives, can name Ariana Grande’s boyfriend and have a favorite Wahlberg brother. 
3) NON- FICTION – HISTORY AND POLITICS – A secret gold mine if you have a lot of opinions and are comfortable being told to “F%#^ Off”.
4) ROMANCE – For the quietly desperate. 
5) SELF-HELP – If you want to meet a married person. 
6) SCI-FI – If you want to meet other lonely dudes like yourself. 
You are welcome – but I digress. )
Somewhere amongst all these books Omah and Ellis gleaned the nugget that for the first few weeks in her new home Mary Sparkles (The Cat) should be kept in a small room. 
Why this is the case hasn’t been made clear to me but Ellis is quite dictatorial on the subject. 
So Mary Sparkles lives in Ellis’s bathroom. Pretty much this has worked out ok.
For hours at a time Ellis will disappear and all I will hear is her voice emanating from the bathroom. She is carrying on conversations with the cat. And she speaks the cat’s responses out loud.
ELLIS: Do you like your cat litter girl ( pronounced “guwhl”)?
THE CAT (also Ellis): NO!
ELLIS: Why not girl?
THE CAT: It itches my bottom and smells funny.
ELLIS: (In a sing-song voice) You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!
And it goes on like that.
Ellis will emerge carrying the cat out in front of her (using both hands somewhat like toting a near overflowing glass of water) -and walk her around the house – pointing out various features like a tour guide. Mary Sparkles just mews helplessly and looks at me. I shrug my shoulders. They disappear back into the bathroom. I hear running water and quietly hope Ellis isn’t trying to teach her how to swim. All was good. 
After a week the problem came up of what to do if we want to go to my folks’ house at the lake. 
Of course we packed her in a carrier and took her with us – Ellis insisting on keeping the carrier in her lap. 
I tell her the carrier might fall. She says it won’t . I ask her to please listen to me for once in her freaking 5 year old life. She responds with words I find hurtful and rude. 
30 minutes later we are on the road and Ellis is fast asleep. We hit a bump and I hear a crash and that weird, awful, blood curdling sound cats sometimes make. Ellis wakes up.
ME: Told You!
ELLIS: (something that sounded like) Hmmph!
MARY SPARKLES: ( whatever sound cats make when they have a mild concussion)
(My parenting skills are a wonder to behold.)
So we get to my folks’ house and once again Mary Sparkles is banished to a bathroom – this time it’s the Master Bath. (We are classy like that. ) And everything works pretty well for a while.
 Kitten Chow is nibbled. Purrs are heard. Litter is soiled. Ellis is occupied. All is good. Until …
On day two I was trying to talk Ellis into a nap. (This was more for my sake than hers. She doesn’t really take naps anymore but I do and it looks better if I say I’m putting the kid down for a nap.) Ellis has to check on kitty before she will lie down.
ELLIS: Daddy – Mary Sparkles is GONE!
ME: (not moving one inch off the bed) I find that doubtful. 
ELLIS: She is! She’s GONE!
ME: Take a nap and maybe she will re-appear.
ELLIS: (Standing in the bathroom doorway with her hands on her hips and an EXTREMELY disapproving look on her face) DADDY!
ME: ( finally getting up) Crap!

Mary sparkles wasn’t actually “gone”. But she had somehow managed to get under the cabinets that surrounded the sink. This was a space that heretofore we had not known existed.
It turns out the base of these cabinets actually ends an inch or two above the floor. We hadn’t noticed this because on 2 sides are walls, on a third side is trim, and in front is a board that we thought was continuous with the cabinets but actually provided a 1 inch gap for an enterprising feline to go over and then get up under the cabinet. (Please see pic for a high quality diagram. )
It was really kind of impressive. 
We couldn’t really see Mary Sparkles – at least not her face. But every once in a while a white paw would dart out – like a fading boxer’s jab – searching for something.
At this point I did a lot of peering. It seemed like the appropriate thing do do. I would lay flat on the floor and peer across. Then I would say “Hmmm” thoughtfully and move to another position and peer from there. “Hmmmm” I would say again.
Ellis just stared at me suspiciously throughout this exercise – quickly grocking the fact that I was a moron stalling for time.
Like any good kid raised predominately by cartoons Ellis had a suggestion. 
ELLIS: I’m gonna call the Fire Department!
ME: (stopping my peering for a second) No! No we are not. I promise you Ellis I would sooner watch that cat DIE in those cabinets than call a bunch of volunteers in silly hats to come save my KITTEN. 
ELLIS: (stifling a sob)
(See – now THAT is quality parenting.)
I decided to attack this like Steve Martin in “Roxanne”. I opened a can of tuna and put it just out of Mary Sparkles’ reach. This succeeded in making the bathroom stink like a combination of kitty litter and canned tuna. Still the cat remained trapped.
Ellis has a little toy fishing pole with a magnet on the end that she plays with in the tub. I rubbed some tuna on the magnet and started tossing my lure into the cabinet and slowly drawing it back. 
ELLIS: (clapping) Daddy you are SO SMART!
ME: Yes Ellis. Yes I am.
The cat grabbed the bait and for a while we tussled – me lying on the floor working the pole like I was on “Wicked Tuna” – Ellis cheering wildly.

Then the line went slack.
ME: Crap!
ELLIS: Crap!
We tried fishing for another 15 minutes but the results were poor.
ELLIS: I’m getting POPPIE!
ME: No – why?
ELLIS: ‘Cause he’s good at doing stuff. 
ME: uh …..
ELLIS: Daddy you aren’t very good at doing stuff. 
The kid has a point.
ME: Ok – tell him I need a hammer, a chisel and … and maybe a flat head screwdriver. 
Ellis looks dubious. 
ME: Seriously – tell him I need a hammer, a chisel and a flat head screwdriver. 
Ellis scampers away chanting to herself ” A hammer, a chisel and a flat head screwdriver.”
I am very proud.

Ellis was gone a LONG LONG time. I just laid there on the bathroom floor, talking to Mary Sparkles like an EMT talking to a person trapped under a car who was awake and alive but everyone knew would die as soon as they tried to move the car.
“It’s ok Mary Sparkles. I’ll have you out of there in a jiffy. And if worse comes to worse you can just live a long happy life in there and we will feed you with the fishing pole.”

Ellis finally returned looking sweaty and worn out. 
ME: Well?
ELLIS: Poppie said your idea won’t work. He is looking for a drill.
ME: (barely audible cursing)
ELLIS: Daddy those are BAD words.

Poppie arrives soon after Ellis. He is wearing dirty overalls and has work goggles on his head. There are smears of grease on his face from doing whatever stuff it is Poppie does on weekends. He is carrying a very LARGE drill, a small toolbox, and a medium sized chainsaw. 
This is why Ellis always wants to get her Poppie. The man has TOOLS.
At this point I’m not worried about the cat. I’m mostly just offended nobody thinks I can figure out how to free a cat from a cabinet.
As I search for my hammer and chisel Poppie is squatting and bending, assessing and looking for angles. Basically he is peering just like I did. Ellis nods in wonder at his skill. 

I set about removing the board that was an evil false front – allowing our kitty to get trapped. It pries away pretty easily. I didn’t break ANYTHING. I am very proud and say so.
Ellis claps her hands.
The cat pops free and Ellis pounces. Mary Sparkles purrs and purrs.
ELLIS: I’m so HAPPY. Thank you Poppie!
ME: ( sigh)
I go to Ellis and pet her and the cat. Poppie is hammering the board back in place and the cat gets startled and jumps out of Ellis’s arms. Mary Sparkles sprints back towards the place she just got out of.