Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meowmeowmeow Belles

**Before I commence my rant, I want to assure you that no cats were harmed in the creation of this blog, but that’s mostly because I didn’t get the opportunity.  Calm down, calm down—I won’t go out of my way to harm one of God’s creatures...mainly because I don’t think they’re worth the energy.  I’m sensing that I’m not helping myself here...

Cats.  Kitties.  Puddy tats.  AAAAHHH-CHOOOO!

All right, all right, I like animals.  Mostly.  If I don’t happen to like a particular species, I’m usually pretty cool staying out of their way if they stay out of mine.  I’m all for parallel existence.  The problem is that cats are creepy and they somehow know when a person doesn’t like them.  The varmints also seem to take particular delight in tormenting a person who doesn’t like them and that’s where my problem began.

You may or may not believe this, but I actually began in life kind of liking cats.  My mother and I were attacked by a dog when I was little, so I started off with a healthy fear of Man’s Best Friend.  Cats don’t exuberantly jump all over someone every time they see them and I definitely preferred their stand-offish behavior.

Later on in my youth, my family got a dog (a black lab named Aslan), so I got over the whole fear of dogs thing.  I also figured out that I was allergic to cats.  Seriously, seriously allergic.  Even though I preferred cats at one point, I didn’t have opportunities to interact with them so I didn’t know about my allergy until I started play dates and sleepovers with friends that had kitties.  Good Lord.  Sneezing, puffy eyes, runny nose, a scratchy mouth and throat and the hives from hell—once I figured out that all of the aforementioned misery was the result of felines, I didn’t want a thing to do with them, but I didn’t hate them yet.

It was at the point that I made a conscious decision to do my best to avoid my friends’ cats—or any other cats for that matter—that cats started noticing me.  It was as if they could sense my discomfort at their presence and they took a gleeful, evil delight in my upset.  I can’t express to you how eerie it was that cats didn’t care about me before my allergy manifested and how they intuitively started to flock to me once I made the choice to avoid them.    

Slumber parties at the homes of cats (I’d come to see the cats as the real homeowners who only allowed people to stay there at their pleasure) started to get horrific.  It’s always kind of freaked me out that cats kill things and present the little carcasses of their victims to their “owner” as some sort of macabre homage or offering.  Well, I started finding little dead birdies and mice in my sleeping bag at slumber parties and the incidents were frequent enough that it could not be dismissed as coincidence.

I’m sorry, but that’s frigging serial killer stuff there, boys and belles.

It was official:  Ashley didn’t like cats and whatever tentative relationship that had existed before was irretrievably broken.

I’ve already told you the mortifying story of the cat taking up residence under my hoop skirt while I was an Azalea Belle at the garden party.  I’ve also relayed the story about the ghost cat at my father’s former law firm. Those tales are but two battles in the brutal and bloody war that continues to rage on.

Several years ago, a friend of the family passed away.  The lady lived by herself and she didn’t have any family of her own, so we took it upon ourselves to go get her house packed up and ready for sale.  I was boxing up some pots and plates in the kitchen when a movement outside the sink window caught my eye.  I didn’t know what it was, but I decided to go out into her back yard to make sure there weren’t any prowlers or anything.

I stepped out of the kitchen door and into the back yard.  I didn’t see anything.  I walked into the center of the back yard and that’s when I saw a black cat up under the azalea bushes.  I shivered—as is my wont when such a sighting occurs—assumed that the movement I saw had to do with the cat. 

Just before I turned to go back into the house, the bush quaked.  Against my better judgment, I took a slightly closer look and started when I realized that I had about ten pairs of eyes staring back at me.  The bush was completely infested with black cats.  At that point, I turned around with the intent of beating a quick path back into the house and my stomach dropped to my toes when I took in the entirety of my situation. 

I was literally surrounded by black cats.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that there were at least a hundred black cats all over the yard.  They were in the bushes, the trees and—most importantly—they were blocking my path to the door.  If it’s bad luck for a black cat to cross your path, what in the hell kind of luck are you supposed to have if you’re commando raided by a black cat posse? 

I thought about calling for help, but I nixed the idea because I would look seriously un-cool.  I tried shoo-ing the little buggers away to no avail.  Finally I opted for the last ditch effort:  Charge at them screaming à la Indiana Jones with the hope of startling and scattering just enough to get by.  It worked.  I parted the Cat Sea and Moses’d my butt outta there.

It turned out that the dear deceased lady had been feeding some extremely prolific strays and their legion of offspring.  She was the personification of the fabled little old lady with a zillion cats.

In yet another instance, our firm was charged with winding down the law practice of an attorney who had died rather unexpectedly.  (Do you notice how many of my cat stories deal with death in some way?  I have.  It just adds more heebie jeebies to the pile.)  We’d taken care of the client files and it was time to turn our attention to his office and get it ready for sale. 

As it happened, I was in need of an additional shelf for my office and the deceased attorney had one that fit the bill perfectly.  I got permission (of course) and went over to the office with so I could measure it and make sure that it would do.  I parked in the back of the office and went in through the back door. 

The office had been locked up for a couple of weeks, so it was nice and stuffy in there.  The late attorney had been a heavy smoker and the air was particularly acrid.  It was daylight, but it was pretty dark in the office.  As I walked through the back hall, I became a victim of one of the oldest horror movie ploys in the books:  A cat that had been sitting undetected on the top of the fridge in the kitchen jumped off and hit my shoulder.

It wasn’t a pretty sight...or sound for that matter.  Suffice it to say that I immediately gave up on my measuring expedition and got out of Dodge.  Wouldn’t you know that the cat had little cat buddies and they were sitting on my car!  At least they weren’t all black that time—they had white sock feet.  They scattered like roaches when I turned on the car alarm. 

So, there you have it—the background on The Great Cat War.  I don’t see it ending any time soon seeing as I aim for them when I see them out on the road.  (Tell yourself that I’m kidding if it will make you feel better.)

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