Corn chips, car starters, and cats in reverse

Out to Lunch, 1995

Having reviewed my finances and been reminded therein of the vast wealth I have relinquished in out to lunchexchange for an endless array of pet supplies, I lounge on my couch and gaze in resignation at my two domesticated animals.

Why “domesticated”? They don’t do dishes, nor windows, nor, for that matter, do they even clean up after themselves.

I consider that even as they draw each breath, they are depositing more hair on my carpet and furniture, digesting more food which need only be replenished later, developing maladies which will result in large veterinary bills, and generating the main course for some future tick, flea, mosquito or other vermin which will require more fiscal expenditures to combat.

The dog (a German Shepherd Dog named Roger), has just been to the vet, in fact. He had developed an irritation on his mouth, and I was instructed to apply Vaseline to the affected area until it healed. For your information, it takes quite a bit of Vaseline to grease down a German Shepherd Dog’s considerable mouth, and I expended no small some to have the vet tell me the he had what amounted to little more than chapped lips.

Roger digests his expensive food with a look of mild bemusement, inwardly laughing at his servile owner for worrying with such nonsense as coat sheen and proper stool.

He stares at the cat, Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament…long story) and calculates whether he could leap forward and wrap his teeth around Malachi’s skinny neck before I regain consciousness and intercept him. He considers the amount of cat hair that would be deposited on his tongue and considerable lips, and decides that he’d rather have ear mites.

Malachi has just concluded one of his feline chirping episodes, wherein he perches on a window sill and salivates over a cornucopia of airborne prey protected only by the intervening window, all the while producing an “ack-ack-ack-ack” noise resembling something akin to the defective starter on a ’72 Javelin.

I have just concluded the consumption of a bag of chips, and for now, leave the bag on the floor.

Malachi shows some interest in the bag, or the contents thereof, and attempts to insert his nose for closer inspection. Of course, the bag has virtually no weight, and Malachi succeeds only in pushing the bag around the floor. This is slightly amusing.

Malachi pushes the bag against the wall, and manages to get his head insight. This is somewhat more amusing.

Malachi discovers that there is nothing but barbecue residue at the bottom of the bag, and begins to back out of it. But lo! his head is not so easily extracted. The same lightness which made the bag difficult to enter makes it difficult to exit, and this begins to cause Malachi some concern.

After some half-hearted shaking and tail-twitching, Malachi reaches the most amusing of stages — feline panic. This is getting much better.

I am reminded of the time that Malachi interrupted one of my frequent interludes of mental hibernation by racing out of the bedroom, followed closely by what I could only identify at the time as a grey blur. Thinking he had disturbed a rogue rat, I leaped, as best one can when emerging from hibernation, to investigate and to procure appropriate rat-killing gear.

Malachi was behind the couch, having deposited his assailant on the floor. The “rat,” I discovered, was a pair of my cut off sweat pants. Emerging quickly now from post-hibernation mental fog, I quickly deduced that Malachi had managed to get the draw-string stuck in his teeth, inducing the aforementioned feline panic that is so amusing, and causing him to race madly about the house in an attempt to be rid of his newly-acquired parasite.

My flashback, however, does not help Malachi extricate himself from the corn chip bag.

In a feat of locomotion of which only cats are capable, and with the bag still attached to his head, Malachi races all about the room, IN REVERSE. Malachi’s speed is not restricted by the apparent physical impossibility of such motion, nor by his obscured — indeed, nonexistent — vision.

Malachi continues bouncing around the room, resembling a fur-covered, fish-eating, furball-coughing neurotic pinball, until by sheer violence of motion he is freed from the bag’s bondage.

Malachi casually licks a paw as if nothing has happened, and I laugh aloud. Roger, the German Shepherd Dog, thinks now that fur on his tongue and considerable lips would have been a small price to pay…

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