Thursday, June 20, 2013

One cat away from being ... well, the crazy cat lady


I got a cat for my oldest daughter when she was seven years old -- a gray and white calico kitten named Betsy. My daughter is now 26 and Betsy is now 100 (in cat years).

My youngest daughter decided she wanted a cat when she was 21. Sadie was just a kitten -- a tabby, full of energy and still is.  When my youngest daughter found an apartment that had a no pets policy I took little Sadie in.

Long story short, I am now cat #2's mama and cat #1's grandma-ma. (yes, she is 100 years old and I am her grandma-ma)

How I know I am "this close" to being the crazy cat lady:

Both felines are finicky eaters. Sadie has to have Fancy Feast Turkey and Cheese Delights -- no, not chicken, not beef, not ocean whitefish -- turkey ONLY!

Betsy is on a special (old lady) vet diet -- she can only eat the cat food from the vet but sometimes as a treat I sneak her a little flaked tuna from Nine Lives. She will only eat flaked tuna, not flaked salmon, flaked shrimp -- tuna ONLY!

While I was at the grocery story searching desperately for Fancy Feast Turkey and Cheese Delights and Nine Lives Flaked Tuna to no avail, an older woman sidled up next to me and struck up a conversation. She too, was in search of the only cat food on earth her cats would eat. She was wearing a toboggan -- it was pretty warm outside and the soles of her once hot pink flip flops were worn thin.

"Your cat finicky too, I guess," the woman said, but never lost focus as her eyes darted over the hundreds of cans on the shelf.

"Yeah, I guess they all are," I responded and peeled my glare from the kitty loot just long enough to glance at her.

Crazy Cat Lady, I thought to myself as I judged her with my thoughts because sometimes I'm just a bitch like that. I'm sure she has at least a dozen squirmy felines in her bed every night.

Then I asked the question I wish I hadn't.

"How many cats do you have?" I turned to her and waited for a response.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Yeah, I'm 44 today. And still a bit of a Super Hero.

It's a national holiday today -- my birthday! No, seriously it's Martin Luther King Day, but from time to time my birthday falls on this holiday forcing banks, the post office and other government offices to close. The last time my birthday fell on MLK Day my water pipes burst and I spent the day under my house re plumbing with pvc. My daughters were elementary-aged then. They are 21 and 23 now. I remember that day fondly even though I was covered with mud and soaked with water. I was so cold. There was six inches of snow on the ground and the temperature had fallen into the teens. It didn't matter -- we had no water and I had to get it fixed somehow. So I threw on my cape (it was overalls really) and just did it.
I've never thought of myself as a super hero -- that's my sister -- I call her Ghetto Santa. Her super hero outfit is of course red and white with fur around the edges -- her hair white and when in full getup she dons a curly white beard -- but that's a topic for another blog. After today, though, I am beginning to wonder if maybe, just maybe I am super hero material myself. I have heard things like this run in families.
I slept in this morning to celebrate MLK Day (which is why I had the day off in the first place) and my birthday. Shortly after getting out of bed a good friend called to ask if I wanted to have drinks later during Happy Hour at the Bee. I opted out of that to have a quiet birthday at home to rest and reflect on upcoming plans. When I turned 39 I made a list of four things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 40 -- Lose 20 pounds, stop smoking, get my first novel published and stop being so negative. I accomplished all those things and so much more -- but that's not why I think I might be super hero material -- read on.
After opting out of drinks during happy hour, I decided to make a list of things I want to accomplish before I turn 45 -- get accepted to and start my MFA program, finish my MA in Education, walk more, finish my screenplay adaptation of Sister Blackberry, and write my third novel Knoring Road.
It was the "walk more" item on my list that took me on a wild super hero adventure today.
At about 4 p.m. I trekked out. The weather here has been so cold but today it was 44 degrees -- coincidence, I think not. This four-mile hike was meant to be (the blister on the back of my heel a bonus).
I went to the park near my house and began walking the three-quarter mile track when I noticed two teenage girls looking intently out onto the still-frozen Brickyard Ponds. I passed them once with no alert but thought it was odd they were continuing to gaze out onto the ice and water. The second time I passed I heard one of them talking on her phone using speaker, "Can you just come out here and see if you can crawl across the ice and get the phone?" A young boy's voice was on the other end, "Are you crazy?"
I stopped. Yes, the girl was asking him to go out onto the frozen water to get her phone. I really didn't want to get involved. As super heroes go -- I am one of the more reluctant dynamic participants. But, I also didn't want to see someone die in the frozen water trying to retrieve a phone. I asked the girl, Etta, was her name what had happened. She and her friend were throwing rocks out onto the ice and the phone flew out of her hand, hit the frozen pond and slid about 20 feet out.
"See, there it is right beside that stick," Etta held her head close to mine and pointed ahead to the ice.
Of course I couldn't see it. My contact prescription is outdated by two years and well, I turned 44 today. My eyesight is probably going to be the first to go. But I took Etta's word for it that there was a phone out there -- a leap of blind faith you might say.
She was very upset about losing her phone and said her mother had never approved of the cell phone her father had gotten her in the first place. If she lost it her mother would never replace it.
I looked all around for a long stick, branch or anything that could slide that phone over to the bank -- there was nothing.
I have an in ground pool and two 10 foot poles for scrubbing and leaf gathering. So I asked the girls to stay put while I retrieved these pool tools from my house, "Please don't go out on that ice or let anyone else go out there, I'll be right back."
I carried the poles from my garage back to the park, about three blocks, passersby were slowing down -- probably to see what the hell I was carrying. I was rather proud of myself for getting the poles out of the garage and between the cars in my driveway and arriving at my destination without scratching my car or anyone elses. Believe me, there were plenty of close calls -- it's not easy carrying two 10-foot-poles in a neighborhood where people park on the street. I had thought of everything -- wide pool scrubber and even a roll of duct tape (no super hero is really super without duct tape, now is she?)
We taped the two poles together and put the wide brush on the end. Then, we carefully pushed the brush out onto the ice next to the phone (which I could now see -- my super powers must have kicked in and activated my super vision). Tada! Etta's phone was saved.
My super hero name: Crazy as Hell Ice Lady aka -- Super CHIL
Super CHIL will fight ice and snow, frozen ponds and frozen pipes for the good of all mankind. My outfit -- ice blue of course with lots of silver and diamond bling, my hair is platinum blonde (after all I am still a Southern woman -- super hero or not). Oh yeah, and blue lipstick too -- that would complete my look. I can travel with Ghetto Santa and we can be the new Dynamic Duo. GS will give you a present if your income is close to poverty level and Super CHIL will unthaw your pipes and rescue items from atop frozen water surfaces -- if  you've dropped them there.
Only problem is I think Super CHIL only has powers when her alter ego -- Melissa Newman has a birthday on the same day as Martin Luther King Day, which only happens about once every decade.
So, never fear Super CHIL is out there thawing frozen pipes and rescuing items thrown haphazardly across the frozen tundra -- even if it is only every ten years.
Super CHIL's motto: Keep Your Comb in the Waffles -- That's Where It Belongs.
-- Melissa

Monday, December 13, 2010

So why Comb in the Waffles?

It started one quiet evening on the couch. I was relaxing after a hard day at work and watching some television. I have two daughters who are only two years apart and at the time they were both teenagers. So, even though I wasn't watching anything on television I was remotely interested in, I was just happy to be sitting and not at work. My oldest, Britt, was eating a plate of waffles and sitting in the floor; my youngest, Brooke, was sitting on the couch with me.
As usual when one has two teenage daughters (or any teenagers at all) the moment was interrupted when an argument ensued. Most people know to get out of the way in these situations and I should have heeded that red flag warning signal that was going off in my head. I didn't. Like an idiot I decided to sit it out and just watch.
The argument went from sizzle to fizzle and all was quiet once again. Brooke was playing with a small comb, flipping it between her fingers. I had just breathed a sigh of relief that the argument hadn't escalated into all out war and I was still sitting on my couch relaxing.
Like most chaos created by teenage girls, out of nowhere, the war had begun. Brooke accidentally flipped the comb too hard. It went flying through the air, twirling in what seemed like slow motion then landed in Britt's plate of waffles with a loud "tink." It was one of those moments that could never be recreated no matter how many times attempted. It was a freak accident and I guess it could have happened to anyone. Still, I wondered at that moment if the angels were bored and decided to create a little entertainment for themselves. We were always such an easy target -- dramatic teenage girls vs. a mom too tired to react. No matter how it happened or who was watching, the fact remained there was now a comb in Britt's waffles.
You know that moment of calm just after a child falls down on the concrete and skins her knee but just before she realizes she's bleeding? There's a long, deep breath and a deafening silence just before the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth begins. There was one of those moments that seemed to last forever. I knew it was coming just by the look of shock and anger on Britt's face. She looked down at her plate in puzzlement for what seemed an eternity then over at Brooke and then at me as if to ask, "what? why? how?"
Like the reluctant witness at a car accident who is being asked to give a statement while both parties are looking at them, I had gone from innocent bystander to judge and jury.
Britt began crying then yelling at Brooke. She looked over at me through her tears and screamed, "Did you see what she did?"
I knew no good could come from getting involved but I was truly afraid at this moment that Britt might kill her sister if I didn't. Afterall, I had seen the whole thing. It was like watching a train wreck -- I could do nothing and as painful as it was to watch, I couldn't look away.
I yelled at Brooke but she defended by screaming, "It was an accident -- YOU SAW IT!" She was right but Britt expected her sister to be punished for this pastry crime against humanity -- this mixture of items that should never even be in the same room together -- a comb and waffles! There's a reason why the kitchen and the bathroom are architectually planned to be at opposite ends of every house. I could see Britt thinking all this and trying to reason it out. It was like I was reading her mind. Then I did it, the unthinkable, I spoke in defense of the "little one" as we sometimes call her. "Britt, it really was an accident," I said reluctantly then recoiling as far back into the couch cushions as possible. She countered with, "I DON'T CARE!" And, from what I could see from her body language (arm in the air, fork pointed at her sister), she really didn't care.
My final question of desperation, "What do you want me to do, kill her? It was an accident!"
A few seconds later Brittani and Brooke both stormed out of the living room and stomped down the hall. Brooke was mad at me for yelling at her because I knew the comb ending up in the waffles was an accident. I had seen the whole thing. Yet, I yelled at her for something completely out of her control. Britt was mad at me because I didn't yell at Brooke quite enough, beat her wildly about the head or just end her life all together for defiling those waffles, even though we had more in the freezer.
That was it -- my quiet evening on the couch had been ruined by a freak accident. A few minutes later I went to the kitchen to clean up a little and it was then I heard them. They were both in Britt's room laughing, talking and watching TV. I walked down the hallway to see what was up, poked my head in the door and was shot with a dirty look from each of them. Even though they had made amends with one another they were still mad at me.
That's when I started calling this incident and others like it "Comb in the Waffles." I'm trying to have it catch on and someday become common phrasing for all us poor souls caught in situations like this.
Most of us have had a Comb in the Waffles incident and many of us have had several of them. Whether it be at work, at home or at the grocery store, we have all experienced those moments when we're not involved in anything but suddenly become responsible for everything! Then, when everyone walks away mad at you and you're left wondering, "What the heck just happened here? I was just minding my own business."
So next time you find yourself in the midst of a situation like this please refer to it as a Comb in the Waffles. If you need help phrasing it, here are some suggestions:
"Well that was a freakin' Comb in the Waffles wasn't it?"
"Oh great, a Comb in the Waffles"
or use this if you see it about to happen to someone else,
"Watch out, I see a "Comb in the Waffles" coming this way.
And please feel free to share your Comb in the Waffles experience with us on this blog. I'd love to read your story and I'm sure others would as well.

Here's hoping your Comb in the Waffles ends with humor and not horror,