Friday, November 19, 2010

Poor Stupid Cat

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This is my cat. Her name is Lola, and she's not all there.

When Lola was a kitten, she somehow got outside and drank antifreeze.

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She was never quite right after that. I decided to keep her indoors until she was an adult, because I didn't trust her to take care of herself outside.

A couple years later, I decided to see if I could expand her horizons beyond the confines of my house. I opened the front door and gave her a little nudge. Cautiously, she took a few steps across the yard, and then completely lost her shit. Apparently having never felt grass, she didn't know what to do with herself, and clumsily marched around the yard, howling in distress at the squishy, cool lawn beneath her feet.

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That was the last time I let her outdoors. She never showed any interest in exploring the outside world, so I figured it wouldn't be a problem. But as the years progressed, Lola started to lose her little mind completely.

Like a lot of cats, Lola liked to sleep in the sink. Unlike other cats, Lola didn't seem to notice when the faucet was running, and would plop her fat self down in the sink regardless. One night I was brushing my teeth before bed, and the phone rang in the other room. I went to answer it, and by the time I came back a few minutes later, Lola was nearly submerged in a sink full of water, almost defiant in her determination to stay put.

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As time progressed, Lola developed a sort of guard dog mentality, growling quietly at company and stalking them as they moved from room to room. Unfortunately, she had a hard time differentiating between strangers and myself, and on occasion she'd attack me. Sometimes when I'd get out of the shower, she'd snap into wildcat mode. I figure it's because I didn't smell like someone she knew, which caused her to view me as prey.

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Back when she was a kitten, unfettered by the sweet allure of engine coolant, Lola's hunter instincts served her well. If she spotted a bug or moth on the ceiling, she'd rapidly climb the nearest bookshelf or floor lamp to get closer to it–or if it was more convenient, she'd dig in her claws and climb the nearest human.

She still does this from time to time, always suddenly and without warning. Sadly, she's too dumb and too fat to climb very high, so she just launches herself partway up my back and then hangs there, exhausted, like a lump of furry bread dough.

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She's pretty much a worthless cat, and it sort of bums me out. Sometimes when I see her staring up at a moth on the wall, confused and forlorn, I'll lift her up so she can reach out with her fat paws and grab at it. I feel like I'm helping her maintain some sort of feline decorum in this way.

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Even then, I have to hold her right in front of the moth before she'll grab at it. More often than not she just bats at the air and yowls, but every so often she'll succeed and stuff the moth in her mouth.

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I left home when I graduated from high school, so Lola lives with my mom now. Whenever I call home, my mom always has new stories to tell me about Lola, or as my mom likes to call her, "that stupid braindead cat of yours who I'm going to murder with a steak knife if she keeps biting my ankles." My mother tells me that she can't put hand lotion on before bed anymore, because Lola panics at my mom smelling different, and has to lick off all the lotion before she'll settle down and leave my mother alone.

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I remind myself that pet ownership is for life, even when your pet is a barely functioning lump of fur and claws. You have to stick it out and take care of your stupid animal forever, or until you move away from home and pawn it off on an unsuspecting family member. Then, it's just a matter of time before your mom calls you to tell you your dumb cat wandered into a woodchipper, and that she's buying a poodle.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Little Hurdles

I've been cutting my own hair since I was 16. Not because I'm particularly good at it, or out of some DIY work ethic, but because I have trouble relinquishing control to a barber. When I went off to college, it became a matter of necessity, as a trip to the hairdresser was completely out of my meager price range. I remember one week I was so poor I had to steal dinner rolls from the school cafeteria. Yes, like Aladdin.

I became pretty good at it, and I found if I made sure to give myself a trim every couple weeks or so, I could keep my hair in check and maintain the false illusion of a halfway put-together human being. This is how it's been for the past seven years.

A couple months ago, I somehow managed to lose control of my hair completely. I waited a bit too long to cut it, and it crossed the line into unmanageable. I was afraid of cutting it myself in fear of looking like a mental patient who got his hands on a pair of scissors, so for a while I simply embraced it and let it grow–mostly out of curiosity, since my hair has never been long. But after a while, the joke that I was going for a Justin Bieber look grew stale, and my hair just started to look ratty and ridiculous. People on the street started to look at me funny.

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Seeing as the hair situation was out of my own control, I was faced with two options. I could man up and make an appointment at a salon, or I could go the easy route and simply buzz it all off. I did that once, years ago, on a whim. I was drunk, which is how all my bad decisions start.

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All I learned from that experience was that drinking scotch out of a crunk goblet was bad news, and that I had a really weird shaped head. I swore never to shave all my hair off again. Never.

I did it four more times after that.

BUT NOT THIS TIME. No, this time I was going to do the adult thing and pay a professional to take care of the situation. I made an appointment at a fancy place downtown, congratulated myself on a job well done, and took a well deserved nine hour nap as a reward to myself.

Unfortunately I didn't anticipate how stressful getting a haircut would be. It had been nearly a decade since my last real cut, and I was completely unprepared. The next day I found myself in a hydraulic barber chair, heart racing, staring down an ominous pair of silver shears, sharp and deadly as knives.

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I just couldn't handle it. For some reason putting my trust in a stranger's hands sent me into an outright conniption and I spent the next 20 minutes hyperventilating like asthmatic sea lion.

Of course, I had nothing to worry about. My hair turned out fine, despite my constant squirming and girly shrieks at watching clumps of hair fall around my shoulders. It was over before I knew it. Relieved, I paid the stylist and skipped home, positively elated at the massive life hurdle I had just overcome. I felt free. I thought, Why stop here? What else can I accomplish today?

Feeling like I was on a roll, I decided to organize my kitchen cabinets.

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Then I clipped my toenails.

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And I finally got around to finishing my Bea Arthur memorial photo collage.

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I was on top of the world. My sense of self worth soared like a comet across the night sky.

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My feeling of accomplishment carried on throughout the day. That afternoon, I strutted–nay, swaggered–down to the deli to get myself a much deserved turkey sandwich. I ordered, paid, and brought my sandwich home and unwrapped it. It flopped open on the table in front of me, and my heart sank. There it was. An olive. A fucking olive had somehow slipped into my sandwich.

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I flew into a sandwich rage.

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Everything I'd worked so hard for that day unraveled in a single moment, and all it took was a tiny black fruit to completely shatter my soul. I collapsed in a heap, surrounded by bits of turkey and spinach and onions, and bemoaned my worthless life.

For a while a laid there, drowned in silent despair, but then I got to thinking. Maybe I didn't need to let some inconsequential olive ruin my life. Maybe the world wasn't such a horrible place. I'd managed to overcome my fear of the hair salon, and that's no small feat in my book. After all, I'm the guy who breaks out in hives when it's my turn to order Chinese takeout for dinner. I realized that I get too hooked on little details, and I need to stop sweating the small stuff. And yeah, I'm sure I probably could have gathered that from a Hallmark card, but what's important is that I learned anything at all.

But I swear, if I ever find an olive in my sandwich again, I will burn this town to the ground.