I quietly announced I was sneaking back to the cottage for a few days. Because of work schedules, I was forced to go alone which meant there would be nobody to cook for, no wet towels to pick up, no beer pong games that went until 3 a.m. and no rap music. Somehow, I would manage.
As the four kids realized they’d be taking care of two dogs and four cats as well as themselves, I broke down and said I’d take the kittens with me. Cairo and Mark are eight months old now and total brats; we don’t actually call them the kittens, we call them something that rhymes with kittens that is less flattering. It would also prove to be prescient, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I packed while they walked in and out of their cages that rested on the kitchen floor. I’d lined them with nice fluffy towels, like putting blankies in a prisoner transport van. The two cats staying behind were wearing t-shirts that said Older and Wiser.
Cairo stuck her head under her towel and was silent. Mark started yelling as we backed out of the driveway. He never stopped. Actually, he did stop long enough to throw up. I’d gotten as far as Square One in Mississauga. I desperately got off the highway, keeping my eye on the road and reassuring a puking cat that I still loved him and everything would be alright. If you’ve ever been to this part of Mississauga, you’ll know it’s a concert mess of box stores and roadways designed to never let you leave. My cat was throwing up in the Hotel California.
I finally found an empty corner of a parking lot, and tried to figure out what to do. From the trunk I got Lysol wipes and a new towel, and debated just cleaning Mark up and carrying on north. Surely it couldn’t get worse. Trapping myself between them, I eased open the cage door. It took me two seconds to realize it most definitely could get worse. As I went to remove the towel, I discovered I had a cat busily working both ends of the car sick equation. Cairo shrugged and said “I told you so” and burrowed further down into her cage. Forty years of cat ownership, first time this had happened.
As Mark stood in the rear windshield holding up SAVE ME placards (conveniently omitting that his distinctive markings now included poop) I somehow cleaned and relined the cage. I plugged him back in and rhetorically asked if we should continue north, or go home. Mark threw up again. I drove in circles trying to escape; I’ve been making fun of Mitt Romney all these years for no good reason.
Mark didn’t believe I was taking him home. He rolled his cage onto its side, his paws getting caught in the holes. I yelled like a mad woman for him to hang on, asking for fifteen more minutes. Cairo checked her watch and went back to sleep. Another five minutes and I heard the cage roll at the same time I realized the poor little bugger had crapped himself again.
This was the reverse of the Caramilk Secret.
I raced up the stairs yelling for Taryn, Ari’s girlfriend. I gently wept as we stuffed a yowling cat in the beautiful freestanding bathtub I’d had recently installed, imagining myself covered in bubbles, candlelight gently bouncing off a champagne flute. Instead I was scrubbing crap from a cat that had more nooks and crannies than a Thomas’s English muffin.
I eventually settled for a beer on the dock.