Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Curse of the Black Cat

Looks innocent enough...
It all started three and a half years ago when a black cat crossed my path.

Technically, he was a kitten and we drove 30 minutes north to adopt him. The curse part, though, remains accurate.

His name is Sushi and, as his name implies, he is full of vinegar.

He is sleek and shiny and perfectly black, with bright, glowing yellow eyes. His claws are extraordinarily long and sharp and his fangs protrude ever so slightly. Beneath his chin there is a small cluster of longer fur shaped like a pointed goatee, making his resemblance to a demon complete.

The first night he spent with us, he climbed out of the little bed we'd arranged for him and on to ours, snuggling himself down to sleep... on my husband's face. Since then, he's never missed an opportunity to remind us that he is the black cat at the center of the universe.

Whatever you are doing, Sushi is also doing.
Like all bad boys, he has a thing for leather. To date he has destroyed: three pairs of boots (two fashion, one motorcycle), two pairs of shoes, two bags, a jacket, three ottomans, and a sofa – all leather. That's in addition to two bedspreads, a pair of window blinds, four floor lamps, countless printed headshots, and my sanity. Yesterday I caught him trying to eat the dresser.

He can jump over six and a half feet vertically, closer to ten horizontally, and can climb straight up anything. His favorite places to play are: 1) the tangle of cords behind the easily broken TV, 2) the tangle of cords behind the easily broken synthesizer keyboards, 3) wherever you have momentarily set something breakable. He chatters at me nonstop while I'm trying to cook, gets underfoot every time I carry anything heavy up or down the stairs, filches things out of my purse, and has even been known to chase Jim around the apartment.

Sushi and Sashimi (aka Sasha)
I've tried various methods of exorcising his demonic tendencies: smothering him with punitive affection, distracting him from evildoing with toys, stuffing him so full of treats he can't move, and even getting a second cat – Sasha, a long haired female whom he adores. Still, this morning, I found him playing hallway hockey with three heirloom tomatoes he'd taken from my shopping bag. 

At this very moment, Sushi is in the kitchen, rooting through the cabinet in which I keep the cat accoutrement, helping himself to a new toy. He's learned to pry the door open with his claws. I've learned to give up.

Today's lesson: Beware of black cats crossing your path.

Next: The Cocktail Party Official 2012 Election Statement... or maybe I'll just have a cocktail...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Something About Aimee

FYI, proper beach attire is actually an ankle-length skirt.
We were full, you see. Almost too full to breathe.* Certainly too full for the long drive back from Gulf Shores. We needed salt air to stimulate digestion – so we went to the beach.

We placed our chairs just beyond the reach of the breaking waves. Dusk was creeping in from the corner of the clear western sky. The breeze picked up, churning the water into a stormy greyish-green. The moist sand made a happy, squeaky sound between our toes and the beer cooler was within easy reach. Spring evenings on the Gulf Coast are dangerous. It's too easy to find yourself considering life in a hammock to be a legitimate career option.

While watching the waves and coming close to a zen-like mindlessness, I was distracted by a sudden flurry of activity out of the corner of my left eye. I tried to ignore it, as further investigation required the effort of turning my head. Yet, the flurry continued to flurry and my left eye continued to not quite ignore it, and eventually I was forced to put my neck muscles in play.

“Mom,” I asked quietly of the dark-haired woman sitting next to me. “Is that girl over there in her underwear?”

Like Joe Cool's cooler cousin, my mother sneaked a quick glimpse of the person to our left and nodded “Yes,” then giggled, “Isn't that Aimee?”

The “Aimee” she referred to is a character from my first book Homecoming: A Novella, whom I describe as: “...a big girl. She was not especially tall, nor was she truly fat. She was just too much. She was a caricature of femininity, all breasts and hips and flesh. Her skin was taut and tanned, her body a combination of baby fat and budding sexuality.

The skivvies-clad young woman, in glorious display of obliviousness for a person her age, began bounding up and down the beach in her rather large, practical beige brassiere and ill-fitting, lime green cotton underpants. She twirled, and strutted, and danced near the waterline, while I fervently prayed that no waves would splash her and further stress test the elastic of her undergarments. Sensing that people were watching her, but not for the reason she seemed to think, she increased her flirting, jiggling, and preening by an order of magnitude. I wanted to throw a tarp or something over her, but instead of smothering her with beach towels, I thought back to what I'd written about Aimee and her trip to the beach on Dauphin Island.

"Aimee had flung off her clothes the second we hit the sand, in spite of the breeze. Her suit was decidedly too small and bit into her young flesh, emphasizing the softness of her curves. Her breasts were about to burst from the small triangles of fabric wholly inadequate to contain them. Her buttocks and thighs jiggled with every move, as, to be honest, did the flesh on her belly and arms. Her hair blew wildly, first entangling her body, then flying freely behind her. She moved without grace, but with an energy and self confidence that I found myself envying."

The panties-girl at first struck me as embarrassing and I'd pitied her for failing to conform to social norms. Was my sense of self-superiority actually disguised envy? Was I jealous of, if not her choice of beach attire, her carefree disregard for common custom and public sentiment – a freedom I'm not easily able to allow myself? No matter how many (hilarious!) snarky comments I thought (or whispered) about her, or how foolish she may have looked in the eyes of any number of people on the beach that day, she was happy, having fun, content in her own skin... and underwear.

Today's lesson: A) Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (often by your very own self!)  B) I miss Underoos.

Next: Something else!


*LuLu's at Homeport... crab melts and margaritas... tasty little gut bomb, that...

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Gift of the Heart

Picture it: That special day, sliding the ribbon from the box, savoring the anticipation before peeking inside to find... Jumper cables.

Sigh... Pure romance!

Don't laugh. That ugly mess of red and black cables connected to King Kong's nipple clamps is one of the most heartfelt gifts a person can receive, along with first aid kits, road flares, and tire slime. 

Diamonds may be forever, but nothing says “I want you in my life for a long time to come” like safety equipment.

More important than the gift itself is the thought process behind it, and the most loving sentiments can inspire some of the most pragmatic presents. Behind each “Christmas seat-belt cutter” and every “Anniversary fire-extinguisher” is an imagined tale of such peril and woe that the Bronte sisters are kicking themselves post-mortem for not having written it. Getting snow tires for your birthday doesn't mean your significant other didn't listen when you mentioned many multiple times how much you like black pearls. It means that the image of you, stranded, helpless, in a ditch by the side of the highway in the middle of the night (always in the middle of the night!) in a blizzard, was more immediately compelling than that of you wearing pretty, sparkly things.

There's nothing wrong with enjoying pretty, sparkly things or wanting to receive them as gifts. Just don't miss the significance behind the seemingly insignificant. In other words, “he went to Jared's” because he wanted you to be happy. He went to Kragen Auto Parts because he wanted you to be alive.

Today's lesson: It's the thought that counts... Sort of like coming up with interesting ideas for blog posts...

Next: Something!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Peril of the Unexamined Life

The proliferation of pretty pink ribbons on posters, produce, products, and people is a sure sign that it's once again “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Did You Know?
  • Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, accounting for nearly 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed in US women. (Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women.) (American Cancer Society)
  • One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime (National Breast Cancer Foundation)
  • Estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer in the United States in 2012: New cases: 226,870 (female); 2,190 (male), Deaths: 39,510 (female); 410 (male) (National Cancer Institute)
  • Breast cancer incidence and death rates generally increase with age. Ninety-five percent of new cases and 97% of breast cancer deaths occurred in women 40 years of age and older. (American Cancer Society)
  • Breast cancer incidence rates are higher in non-Hispanic white women compared to African American women for most age groups. However, African American women have a higher incidence rate before 40 years of age and are more likely to die from breast cancer at every age. (American Cancer Society)
  • In the U.S., the 5-year survival rate for all women diagnosed with breast cancer is 90 percent. When breast cancer is found early and confined to the breast, the 5-year relative survival rate today is 99 percent. Most survivors will live a full life and never have a recurrence. (Susan G. Komen For the Cure)

Today's lesson: Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. So give your girls a little squeeze to show them that you care... and see your doctor regularly. (Do the BSE with the ACS!)

Next: The most romantic gift ever.