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01/19/2011

The wheat from the chaff

Aw, dammit, y'all, New York didn't happen.  There was a whole plan, a beautiful plan, one involving airplanes and my mother and trusted childcare and a relaxing train ride through the snow-dusted fairyland that is New England in January, culminating in three blissful wallowy days in a hotel with — lowering voice to a throaty murmur — my husband.

And it just didn't work out.  My mother's flights last week were routed through Atlanta, cue ominous music, and New York, crescennnnnndo, meaning that her arrival was delayed when all that snow-dusted fairyland bullshit stepped totally out of bounds.  It all still would have worked had the cat not developed in the meantime this disconcerting noisy breathing, which sounds a little like human snoring and a little like a misfiring 1924 International Harvester.  He'd sleep on my head and I'd wake up, disoriented, and think that either Paul was trying to smother me with a pillow in his sleep or my ass was about to get decisively threshed.  The local vet referred us to the specialist, who said the cat needed surgery, either to tune his carburetor or to remove a fleshy growth somewhere inside his nasocranial neoplastic proximal oracular aqueduct — do you like how I just make this shit up? — and they could see him soonest smack in the middle of Mom's visit.

So, deafening cacophony of violins even louder than the cat.  (Would you believe that people in the vet's waiting room were peering into the carrier, asking incredulously, "Is that a cat?"  No, asshole, it's a boxed pygmy wildebeest. Twenty pounds of caged ungulate fury.)  We could have left my mother with a sick cat whose airway could at any moment become fully obstructed, or we could have left her with a convalescing cat leaking bloody discharge from his nose and the strict instructions to keep him quiet, not to let him jump up on stuff.  (What do they ever mean by that, anyway?  A cat?  No jumping?  Yessiree.  I will sell the trampoline forthwith.)  That plus two kids seemed like a lot to ask.  Especially since he pees like a racehorse every time you stuff him into his carrier.

So here we all are, having, I must say, a wonderful time.  We kept my mother's visit a secret from Charlie; I couldn't see the look on his face as he happened upon her in the playroom, but seen from behind, well, his whole body was transformed, and he kept on chortling as if he couldn't quite believe it.  Ben took a couple of days to warm up, but has now accepted her into the tiny circle of adults he cleverly plays off against each other — "No, stop!  I want Mama to change my diaper.  No!  Dad!  Waitaminute!  Noooo!  Lala!  Nooooo do not check my diaper Help Help Let goooooo!  I want to plaaaaay!"  Which seems like a vote of confidence: Congratulations!  You're a full-fledged funsucker!

It's busy and it's lovely, and because of that this is the first time in a week I've had half an hour alone to gather my thoughts even to this extent, and to sit down and type.  The cat is off for surgery this morning — you only thought assisted reproduction was expensive, Jesus gay — and both boys are back to school.  Therefore a brief and scattered hello to you.  I am sorry we didn't make it to New York, so sorry that I can't think about it much.  (I spent the last several days glaring at the cat, muttering, "I know where they sell John Deeres.  You can be replaced."  It is easier to do that than to contemplate the biopsy.)  I would have loved some time away, and I would have especially loved meeting up with you, and I really hope we can do it another time.

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