Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Loss in the Family

To your left, you will see one of my favorite pictures of one of the nicest pets we've ever had in our home, Samson. We adopted him almost ten years ago while we were still living in my Mom's old house on Wehmeier Street in Columbus, Indiana and our long-lived cat Demon, by now age 16, was still with us. He was actually the house pet of our next door neighbor, but she was looking to give him a better home because her health problems physically kept her from giving "Sam", as she called him, the kind of attention that he deserved. From the moment he saw us pulling up into our driveway, he made beeline toward us, his cropped tail wiggling back and forth on his butt, and you could literallly hear that old 1970's disco tune "I'm Just a Love Machine" filling the air.

Deena, of course, said "No! We're a one-cat household! Demon would go crazy!" So I had decline the neighbor's offer.

A couple of nights later, a big storm broke, so Deena and I, of course, manned the buckets, as the roof at the old house leaked like a siv, and we kicked back to watch some TV on my night off. At the height of the storm, we heard a THUMP at the screendoor that scared the living crap out of us. I looked out, and sitting, waiting patiently, soaked through and through, was Samson, with a meow that sounded like a banshee's wail.

I told Dee who was outside, and she said, "Well, let me get Demon into the bedroom so we don't have a fight."

So I let the little fella in, and Deena came out with a dry towel and we dried him off as best we could. So we gave him some food and water, and after he'd finished that he came back out to the living room and hopped right up in my lap and got ingratiatingly comfortable.

The storm that night was just not letting up, and I suggested to Dee we let him spend the night. Dee rolled her eyes and said, "Okay, but Demon ain't gonna like it."

We let Demon out, he took one look at Samson, gave a squeeky hiss, and got very self-centered in his own dinner bowl.

We went to bed, leaving Samson out in the living room. Well, he wasn't about to have any of that, so as we got comfortable, he hopped right into our bed and squeezed himself into the crook of my arm and immediately fell asleep. I turned to Dee and said, "Can you really say he has no place in our home?"

Deena rolled her eyes and went to sleep.

The next day when Dee and I both got home from work, Samson was sitting right on our little cement porch, waiting to be let in. "Deena..."

The Walls of Jericho finally crumbled. "Ooooooh... alright, but if he doesn't get along with Demon, he's gone!"

I talked to the neighbor, and she immediately handed me a ton of canned cat food, a bag of cat litter, and a bunch of cat toys. He had already had his front claws removed and he was also fixed and had his shots. So he was a pretty much "made-to-order" housepet.

It took about a month for Demon to get used to the new addition. In fact, early in the morning of my birthday, the two of them decided to give Daddy the best gift of all... a pay-per-view event! They nearly tore the house to shreds fighting each other, but the odds were pretty even: Samson had no claws, Demon had no teeth. Finally, after beating the living pulp out of each other from one end of our very small house to another, they seemed to end it all in the kitchen by going to neutral corners.

I poured them both a couple of bowls of milk, and incredibly enough, they walked over to the bowls together and started drinking, side by side.

For some reason, I felt I was in a feline version of the final bar scene in "The Quiet Man".

With a few altercations that didn't last, Demon and Samson got along very well, right up to when Demon's kidneys started failing and he began having seizures. As Deena and I talked about calling the vet first thing in the morning, Samson reached over to Demon's frail little body and placed his paw on Demon's shoulder. Who wouldn't break down upon seeing that?

Not long after Demon passed away, we decided that Samson needed someone else with him while we were both at work. So we adopted a friend of mine's kitten Syryn. Again, difficult to get the two of them to get along, especially since Syryn is really picky and paranoid about any kind of physical contact that she doen't implement. But in time, they could often be found laying down next to each other, catching a nap, or sitting with both of us watching TV.

In 2006, we moved to a pleasant little house on 22nd Str., and with some difficulty managed to get the cats to move in with us. Samson was on his best behavior, sitting on Dee's lap, enjoying the short trip to the new house. Syryn, on the other hand, went absolutely bug nuts. When we got her to the new place, she immediately squeezed her enormous butt under the new dresser drawer and stayed there until all of Deena's family had finished the painting and furniture moving. Eventually, she crept out while we were alseep, started exploring the new house, and designated it as livable.

All while Sampers laid in between us, sound asleep.

Last night, after a long illness, Samson crawled beneath our bed after spending some time sleeping between us, purring softly, and passed away. While Deena and I mourn losing him, we're thankful that he's no longer in pain and misery and that he's now running with the strength of a kitten.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another Friday the 13th Birthday Behind Me....

I just hate, hate, hate when my birthday falls on that accursed Friday the 13th, because it means something really, really annoying is going to happen that's going to disrupt what should have been an otherwise pleasant day of fun and frollic. So I decided to head it off by starting the day off with a birthday present to myself... I went to iTunes and downloaded Lewis Black's Stark Raving Black CD, which finds the explosive comic at the apex of his hilarious indignation of the human condition. In his examinations of the foibles of people both high and low, I believe he is now at a comedic level where dwell such performers as George Carlin, Robin Williams, and Bill Cosby at their peak. His incredulous pairing with Vince Gill and Amy Grant at a charity show made me pee my pants just a little.

Armed with a burned CD to play in the car as I headed to work, I thought, "This day is going to be great! I'm gonna get everything finished early at Subway, maybe Jeannie will even let me off a little early, then I'm heading home, grab Deena, and we're heading to the movies to see Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World! I'll show Friday the 13th! I'm going in with a better attitude!"

And, ya know... I should have realized from that moment that thinking all that stuff, I was just setting myself up for a fall. I should have just brained myself with a 2X4 in the garage and laid there unconscious until Deena found me. It would have been far more pleasant than the following six hours and forty minutes.

Now, to be fair, Jeannie got me a really funny birthday card, which further deluded me into thinking things were going to come out well. Almost immediately after that, things started sliding. The breakfast rush got so that I barely had time at the prep table to finish the food slicing before lunch began. We fell a bit behind on the bread baking. Then we had one obnoxious customer right after another... and then, in handling the hot soup pan coming out of the microwave, Jeannie spilled a nice puddle of it on the counter.

The day dragged, the dishes got higher, the prep list got bigger, but we did manage to get most of it all caught up to just before I was ready to clock out... and then, as if on cue, about two dozen customers, one right after another, showed up to order a jillion sandwiches. I was 40 minutes late getting out of there, forcing Dee and I to go to a later showing.

Later that night, a nice young man on Tony Isabella's bulletin board wrote me a birthday greeting and advised me to ignore the Friday the 13th superstition, that, as far as he had researched it, it was a "relatively recent invention of the 20th Century."

I wrote back, "Ah, so that was a relatively recent invention that's been kicking my @$$ all day today, spilling hot soup on the counter, making me and Deena late to the movie! You know, he was standing right outside Wal-Mart, actually paying people to go in and throw crap on my day. I met him as I was going out and I said, 'Hey, Relatively Recent Invention! Thanks for putting the screws to what was supposed to be a worry-free day!' He said, 'Not a problem! Hey, here's a rash! Don't say I wasn't thinkin' about you on your birthday!'"

So, we decided to go get some eats at Grindstone Charley's before I absolutely fell over from insulin shock and catch the later showing. It was worth the frustrations... if you fuse the best of John Hughes' teen angst movies with the crazy-ass energy of a Jet Li action flick and the classic video games of the 80's and 90's, the result is absolutely the world of Scott Pilgrim. Edgar Wright, the director of great British comedies like Shawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, has reached a whole new level of energy with this film.

The rest of the day, thankfully, went uneventful, and the Sweet One and I settled down to a couple of hours of good television before letting my 54th birthday slink off into the dusk.