It’s just Animal Day here at P i l l o w b o o k Central. This one comes with a “don’t read while on your lunch hour” advisory. Let’s just say it involves skid marks.
I’ve mentioned that we have two cats named after sushi, Ebi (named after orange and white shrimp; she comes in shag) and Wasabi (named after green horseradish; she comes in velour). And Ebi is somewhat hygiene-challenged. Kinda like how Britney Spears was dirty-pretty: the type to walk her formerly cute self around barefoot in a gas station bathroom. We adopted Ebi and Wasabi about 6 months before the kiddoo came along, in 2003.
Now when the Unreliable Narrator was but a Cutie Nubbin of a few months old, I recall being exhausted from feedings every 90 minutes with each feeding that lasted 40 minutes long… it was just easier to count the minutes when I wasn’t nursing as opposed to the minutes I was nursing. Adding to the exhaustion was keeping on top of–I kid you not–finger- and toenails.
Yep, my whole life was devoted to breastfeeding, eliminating, bathing the baby, and clipping nails. The Cutie Nubbin’s nails, because babies can scratch their corneas by accident when they flail their little hands with their little fast-growing nails. My nails, because I was in high-metabolism mode due to nursing. And the cats’ nails because they often got close to the CN and I didn’t want them to accidentally scratch him. (Fur? Who has the time to groom a cat when I don’t even have the time to take a shower?)
So, twenty nails per being, 4 of us…that makes 80 nails I was cutting per week. Three of the four of us did considerable writhing and squirming during nail-cutting. At least two of the four of us had perfected running away at top speed and squeezing between the wall and the sofa at nail-cutting time.
Why not skip cutting the cats’ nails? Because upon taking my newborn son home from the hospital, my mother and my mother-in-law staged a minor insurrection, suggesting that the cats should be deported.
“They’ll smother the baaaaaaaa-yaa-beeeeeeee!” the new grandmas wailed. “They’ll scratch his eyes out in the middle of the night! Besides, what if he’s…allergic?” one of the moms, the one who was allergic herself, intimated in hushed, apocalyptic tones.
I was already incensed. If you know what’s good for you, you don’t work the last nerve of a new mom whose blood is pumped full of lovey-dovey oxytocin for her newborn but also filled with fierce raging adrenaline at she-demon Hindu goddess Kali levels, ready to rip the head off anyone who gets between her and her baby and drop-kick that veiny football 50 yards. Let’s face it, new moms are 100% last nerve. They have no other more forgiving nerve to speak of.
THIS is what Bradley breathing techniques are good for–summoning the self-control to ignore people, often very close to you, who are on your case about your parenting while your stitches are still fresh. Not the actual childbirth itself, but the 24 hours afterwards.
I managed to snort out in a semi-controlled growl, clutching the Nubbin in question to my chest, “I. Really. Think. Cats. Are. The. Least. Of. Our. Worries. How about the high cost of COLLEGE, becoming a jesus freak, or, grounds for disownment*, a Republican???” (Never mind that aging parents are dancing dangerously close to the GOP in some of their political beliefs and well, in-laws are already there.)
To my great surprise, HB practically blew his top. “Those cats are ALSO part of our family and we are not giving them away. PERIOD.” He also said a good deal more that was rather vehement and unprintable, but basically he was saying, The cats stay, but if you find yourself in disagreement with this, you’re welcome to vamoose.
It was an awesome display of Firstborn Chinese Son/Patriarch-in-Training of Our Immediate Chinese Family power. He has privilege. Usually he is a benevolent dictator or chooses not to play those reindeer games. But on that day, he used it. He pulled rank on blood, you understand, on the very maternal being who bore him tenderly for nine months and wiped his infant face and ass for interminable more months, endured his tortured adolescence, put him through college, and so on. And he did this in the name of our cats. So our son could grow up with a healthy immune system from exposure to tumbleweed-sized balls of cat fur from the shag-carpeted one and the velour one, but mostly the shag-carpeted one.
My mom and his mom were immediately beaten down (so to speak) and put in their place. Which appeared to be: below two fluffy felines, who, need I remind you, weren’t even human.
Now you may be wondering, “She said ‘skid marks.’ Where the heck are the skid marks, Mabel, that she promised us up top of this post?”
You just hang in there. Because you have to know what we did to fight to keep our cats four years ago to appreciate our travails this evening.
Flash forward to the present day. The UN and I are cuddled on the sofa, watching an Elmo dvd while HB makes dinner. We’ve learned to ignore the periodic “cat crazies” that sometimes break out like a sudden summer rainshower and then just as quickly stop. Near us, exactly that was happening. Wasabi was giving Ebi what-for. And then-some.
Ebi came over and got her head scratched by the UN. She jumped up on the sofa and endured a brief hug from the UN, then jumped down and wandered off. May I remind you that she jumped up on our sofa, next to us? Please keep this detail in mind.
HB finished with dinner preparations and we came to the table.
Just past our “breakfast nook” adjoining the kitchen is a three-quarter bath. The litter boxes are there. THAT’S WHEN BOTH HB AND I SAW THE SKID MARK.
It was a good eighteen inches long. It was dark brown. And it was coming from the direction of the cat litter boxes extending slightly past the door into the hallway…in a direction that Ebi had taken.
Before anyone could eat anything, we found Ebi and put her in lockdown: we shut her in the kitty-litter bathroom. I couldn’t help myself, I snuck a peek at her butt. Readers, picture the scary moment in the American remake of the Japanese horror movie RINGU (THE RING), where we discover the Innocent Babysitting Teen Girl cowering in a closet after having viewed Samara the Ghost–Teen Girl’s face horribly smeared to the side in a monstrous grimace, eyes bugging out of her head, face frozen in a near-death rictus.
Well, my face looked a little like that upon viewing the SQUOOSHY DINGLEBERRY STUCK TO EBI’S BEHIND. I mean, it was buried in her long fur and mashed up in there. Perhaps it had formed when she’d dragged her sorry butt across the floor, trying to remove the poo-goo from her ass, which of course explained the skid mark.
THE DINGLEBERRY, IT HAD BEEN THERE FOR A WHILE. Perhaps as long as when the two kitties had had their little altercation, which I realized in retrospect was no ordinary sisterly bitchslapping, but Wasabi trying to shame Ebi into doing something about that giant honking dingleberry. Like, now, beeeyotch! And possibly overlapping Ebi’s uneasy time on our sofa, in which my darling son GAVE HER A HUG. On our sofa.
At least my boy’s mama taught him to hug the front end. Of the cat, not the sofa.
How do I know it was squooshy, you ask. Well, who do you think got out the tough padded leather cycling gloves, then put the oven mitt on over them, and used an old kitchen towel to hold down Ebi for dingleberry removal? HB, that’s who.
I was the one who used my son’s blunt-edged kiddie scissors to surgically remove the dingleberry and use 3,000-ply paper towels to wipe the mess off her.
There’s now hardly any fur around Ebi’s bunghole and it’s velour, not shag, directly under her tail and down the backs of her legs leading to her heel. I have become a parody of Asian women who embalden other ladies’ private parts at trendy salons, I thought to myself. Only, shaving this pussy is a thousand times more wrong.
At some point we got over our horror and had dinner.
Afterwards, I said to HB, “Remember when the grandmas flipped out over a little cat hair?” HB allowed as he did, and now you too know what effort was expended to keep our kitties in our loving embrace. I knew he was reliving his own personal moment of The Ring/Eyes Bugging Out in Horror, the Sheer Disgusting Grossness of It All upon seeing the extent of dingleberryness. Call that horror show Dingu.
“Shoulda given her away,” HB said.
“And to think we laid it on the line for her.” (Yeah, we totally guffawed at Ebi’s expense.)
Hopefully there won’t be any more skid marks for a while. Poor thing was so traumatized by the dingleberryectomy that she wedged herself into a tight space while velour-coated Wasabi took a victory lap around the living room: “See, Marcia Brady, Jan’s gettin’ some love now! So much for your long fur, glamourgirl!”
The Unreliable Narrator watched everything with keen interest. I hope he was taking notes, because
Some Day Soon, All This Will Be Yours, Son.
* ‘Disownment’ is so too now a real word. I just made it up. As is ‘embalden.’
P.S. If you think I took pictures of all this to post on the interwebs to accompany this story, you are wrong-o, sickie.
The Unreliable Narrator, at 4 years old, hasn’t been trained to take a decent picture yet, and dingleberryectomy is at least a two person endeavor.