Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cat Tails: Stories from a past life

As most of you know, cats (the lucky ones anyway) are said to have as many as 9 lives. I don't want to date myself but, suffice it to say, I've been around the block a few times. As a result, I've built up practically a litter box full of funny and educational experiences.

Cat Tails, a recurring feature here at Fancy Feast, will be used as a forum for sharing some of these tales for your reading pleasure and general enlightenment.

My post earlier today might’ve been interpreted by some as something of a disgruntled rant, so in the interest of keeping things light, I will share a story that I’ve affectionately titled “Pride Goeth Before the Wall”. It’s a long one, so grab yourself a cup of coffee and a biscuit:

Several years ago, I dated a lovely brown tom named Eldon. He was an outgoing and friendly cat, a few years older than myself, and we shared many laughs and good times. We were rarely at odds. Anyway, Eldon’s best friend lived out in Vancouver and so for our Christmas vacation one year we decided to make the trip out there to visit and check things out. We spent about a week out there, staying with Eldon’s friend and taking day trips to this or that tourist attraction. It was fun.

Now Eldon’s friend lived with his girlfriend and several other roommates in a rented house out in Burnaby. These fine people earned a living by landscaping in the summer months and collecting unemployment insurance during the harsh Vancouver winter. They also had a fairly sophisticated hydroponics operation running out of their basement, which supported both their needs and those of several others in the neighbourhood. But I digress, back to my story.

So, Eldon and I had been rocking out in V-town for several days, taking hundreds of photos of ourselves tackling the slopes, crossing scary suspension bridges, teasing sea otters at the Vancouver Aquarium, and befriending prostitutes and IDU’s on the downtown East side. Needless to say, we were feeling a little under stimulated, so we decided to take a day trip over to Victoria.

We figured it would be a long day, and we were right. After waking before dawn to ride several buses and trains, we finally arrived at the ferry terminal, where we embarked on another long journey. Victoria was nice, if not mind numbingly boring, and by the end of the day, we were both tired and ready to head “home”. We caught one of the last ferries and sat in relative silence for most of the trip. There is only so much to talk about when you are with someone 24/7. I may have had a nap, I can’t recall.

Upon arriving back in V-town, we had another couple of hours of bus and train riding to contend with before getting back to the burbs, and at some point, like maybe on our 4th bus or something, I asked Eldon (not for the first time) if he liked the new jacket I had gotten for Christmas. Admittedly, this was a pretty inane question, probably very irritating to an exhausted boyfriend at 1 o’clock in the morning.

Well, my otherwise good-natured companion had reached his breaking point, and replied by pausing, taking a deep breath, and asking me if I took swimming lessons as a child. Curious and excited about where this was leading, I replied with an ambitious “yes, of course. Why do you ask?” To which he replied, I bet you were one of those kids who was always yelling “mom, look at me, look at me!”

Needless to say, his comment left me with a hair ball lodged firmly in my throat; in part because I was not one of those kids, and in part because I too was extremely tired and somewhat caught off guard by his gratuitous, smarmy comment. He immediately realised that he had hurt my feelings and the balance of the trip was spent with him asking if I was angry. I sat in silence denying the rage that was bubbling inside of me, citing extreme fatigue as the reason for my aloof demeanour.

We disembarked from the last bus and I hoofed it up the hill to the house, with him lagging several steps behind. A quick, polite summary of the day was offered to our curious hosts, and we both indicated that we would be heading to bed.

One of the roommates had gone away for the holidays, and had graciously offered his room to Eldon and me. We brushed our teeth and disrobed in silence. Eldon was feeling pretty badly and I was employing the age-old silent treatment method to let him know that he was not off the hook.

The truth is, at that point I had cooled off considerably and was more than ready to make up. I mean, it was such a petty argument, born entirely of fatigue, and who wants to go to bed angry anyway? But for whatever reason, I was being increadibly stubborn and I just couldn’t let it go. So I continued to stomp around a little, aimlessly reorganising the contents of my suitcase, while he quietly got into bed.

The layout of the room was such that the bed was pushed up against the wall, and Eldon and I had a system. Actually, I had a system. I liked sleeping on the inside, mashed up against the wall (still do). He accommodated by taking the free edge (which I think he preferred anyway).

The light switch unfortunately was located way across the room, next to the door, nowhere near the bed. Now in the infinite wisdom of my snooty, snotty, pooping in my pants kind of mood, I had decided to try my best not to touch Eldon whilst getting into bed. So, I uttered goodnight, turned off the lights, and proceeded to carry out my no touch plan. It seemed so simple and sophisticated. I would reach the edge of the bed where he was lying, plant my feet and launch myself, something like a superstar gymnast, directly onto my half of the bed. No contact would be made with Eldon. That would teach him a lesson alright.

It sounded so good in theory, but something in my execution went terribly wrong. Being unbelievably tired and in unfamiliar surroundings, I grossly misjudged the distance between the edge of the bed and the wall. As a result, I had launched myself head first, at full velocity directly into the wall, perpendicular to the wall if that helps you with the visual.

The resulting crack was something to behold, as was the sound of my limp body hitting the mattress several feet below the point of impact. Eldon jumped out of bed and hit the lights, only to find me half-dazed, with an instant goose egg in the dead centre of my forehead, tears pouring out of my eyes, accompanied by hysterical laughter. Eldon kept saying “Tabby, are you laughing or crying?” And through my sobs and asphyxiating laughter the only response I could muster was “both”.

I was crying because I had drilled my head full kilter into the wall, I was laughing at the sheer hilarity of where my silly prideful, behaviour had landed me.

You can guess the rest. We made up right then and there, applied ice packs to my forehead, laughed our asses off, and finished out our holidays in wonderful style, parading around Vancouver hand in hand – with a giant red lump on my forehead.


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