As Monty Python would say, “And now for something completely different…” When I started this blog it was with the intention of not only informing people about rock music, but to provide a laugh or two. I’ve become too obsessed with music in these pages… Who didn’t see that coming? So, with that in mind, I hope this story makes you smile. Happy Caturday!
My faithful cat, who I’d had for 14 years passed away about 100 days ago. His name was Merlin. I hated cats until I met Merlin. With a simple “laying on of paws” he cured me of my life time antipathy toward the feline species. I used to think of him, a simple house cat, who had wrought this miracle in my psyche as “the Jesus of Kitties,” he was a healer. I spent the first month after his passing wandering around the house, weeping to old Steve Perry-era Journey songs. “Faaaaaaithfully…” Thankfully that passed. But it wasn’t always that way… in the early days I knew nothing about cats, or any animals. I hadn’t had a dog since I was a little kid and that experience and faded from memory the same way my awful little league baseball experience had. I didn’t know, for example that all mammals have glands, known as anal sacks, which secretes the fluid they mark their territories with. I always thought they peed for that, but that shows you what I know about animals.
When Merlin first arrived, shortly after he’d converted me to the Pro-Cat lobby, I noticed that he was scooting his ass around the carpet. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Oh, great, I finally start to dig a cat and it’s broken or dying.” Believe it or not, hypochondria has it’s down side. I seemed to remember this happening to my first dog and had a vague memory of it being diagnosed as “worms”. I called the wife, or as I like to call her, the CEO of the Family and urgently described the aforementioned “ass scooting”. The wife told me (commanded me?) to call the vet. For some reason, perhaps she thought it would bring us closer together, my wife always made me take Merlin to the vet. Perhaps she knew how much he hated going to the vet and was consciously making me be the bad guy. My wife’s motives are typically hard to ascertain. When she used to make me rake leaves, I would stand in the yard, doing my best Hannibal Lecter impersonation and say to her up on the porch, arms at my side Anthony Hopkins style, “If I rake all the leaves, will the lambs be silent for you, Clarice?” But, I digress.
The problem with calling the vet was the 900 year old receptionist. This woman had come to Kansas in a covered wagon. In fact, she may have already been here and greeted the covered wagons when they rolled up. She absolutely loved the animals in her boss’ care. The owners, not so much. She was as tough as nails and frankly scared me a little bit. I mean, I think I could have taken her in a fight, as long as knives weren’t involved. To make matters worse, she was deaf. One would think hearing would be a pre-requisite in a job consisting of answering the phone but the vet was a kind hearted old guy and he kept her on. Either that or he was afraid of her too.
Merlin had recurring dental problems. The first time I had the vet check his teeth, he showed them to me and it appeared we’d only been feeding him a steady diet of cigarettes and coffee. I think they pulled like 6 teeth on that trip and I was informed that I needed to bring him in every six months to monitor the teeth. This was either a well disguised ruse to milk money from me every six months or they secretly suspected I was actually feeding Merlin cigarettes and coffee.
I was anxious about calling the receptionist, Paula (*name changed to protect the innocent) and telling her my cat was scooting his ass on the carpet. I needed a better opening. I paced around my living room and it dawned on me, I’d lead with the teeth. Merlin was about due for another dental check, so I figured I’d casually lead with that and calmly transition to the ass scooting. This was going to require all the verbal acuity I could muster but I felt up to the task. I had once again, overestimated my abilities.
I shakily dialed the phone and listened to it ring. I was hoping maybe someone else would answer, but as was my luck in those days, Paula answered.
“Uh, yes, uh, hi Paula, this is Ken, uh, I was told Merlin needed to have his teeth checked, uh, every six months and he’s about due for that. And well, he’s kind of scooting around on the carpet so we might want to check that end of him too.” I wasn’t sure that came out as skillfully as I’d rehearsed it, but I was hoping for the best.
In her usual, surprisingly loud, disdainful voice she said, “Merlin? Are you talking about Merlin, what exactly are you trying schedule?” I had forgotten how really deaf she was.
“Uh, yes this is for Merlin,” she loved Merlin, “and yes I want to schedule a tooth exam, he’s due.” I was rolling so I went for broke, “And he’s scooting his rear-end on the carpet, it’s probably worms or something, so we need to have that checked out.”
There was a long pause. I feared she’d think I was crazy. Then, it seemed to dawn on her what I was talking about, “Ooh, well yes, we can schedule his dental check-up, we’ll have to put him under for that, plan for a whole day. And if he’s scooting around, well cats have anal sacks, too.”
As a person who was not experienced with animals, I’d never heard of anal sacks. Naturally, to me anyway, I thought she said, “anal sex”. I was stunned this old lady would go there, but hey, here we were. I began to stammer…”No, no, not my cat. I mean, I would know… He’s a good cat. He’s an inside cat, he’s not around other cats and I don’t think he’d be in to that anyway. He’s not social. No, no way, not my cat.” I had horrible visions of my sweet Merlin in a leather hat and chaps.
There was an extremely long pause… And in an even more disdainful tone, which I didn’t think Paula was even capable of, she said, “I said, anal sacks.”
Awkward… Needless to say, my wife ended up taking the cat to the vet that time…
#RIPMerlin … I miss you every day buddy!