With the arrival of warm temperatures, and the progress of our garden, we love to sit outside. We take our books, park ourselves around the table, and read until the sun starts to set. We’ve grown accustomed to the trill of the cicadas, but we are still freaked out by their habit of dive-bombing against leaves, patio umbrella, us… J, guided by his fear of flying insects and strangely whirring creatures (I swear the cicadas sound like they’re trying to contact the mothership,) prefers to stay indoors. On Monday night this was the best decision ever…
It was a nice, warm, comfortable evening. The whirring wasn’t too loud, but the cicadas were circling us with looks of annoyance on their scary little faces. Inside the house, J was happy and relaxed watching a movie after dinner. The cats were lazing about in the sitting room. Because Dada is always arguing that we can’t keep “air conditioning the great outdoors,” he had closed the sliding glass door. I keep the A/C at 74 degrees so it hardly ever kicks on when all the fans are going.
We live in a safe neighborhood. By that I mean that once in a great while a car gets broken into, things are stolen from porches, or there is a random break-in while someone is away on vacation. This all happens so seldom that it out of an excess of precaution (and because I am, in essence, a chicken shit) that we put a stick on the sliding glass door track to keep it from opening completely. Ok, there are TWO sticks…a shorter one so that I can leave the door open for the cats to come in and go out, and a longer one that prevents the door from opening AT ALL. The longer stick is made of wood. The shorter stick is metal.
As we sat outside reading I told myself “I will stop at the end of this chapter.” Page 132 was my goal. I was on page 131. I am reading Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, and I’m going slowly because I have lots to do. During the day I have J supervising me, and so I take a while every evening to catch up on where I should be in my reading. I wanted to stop at page 132 so I could go back inside and eat a cookie.
And then I heard the click of metal against metal. Dada, who can’t hear very well, heard it too. It was a sound that we immediately, and correctly, attributed to the short metal stick falling into the sliding glass door track.
We fake-calmly walked to the door, and saw Miss Zelda on her back, happily stretching over the door track. Somehow she had managed to push the stick towards the door and kick it into the track. We fail to see how this could have been accidental… If you have never seen Miss Zelda you cannot begin to imagine how accurate I am in describing her as a dead ringer for Lucifer, the cat in Cinderella.
Make no mistake, just because she isn’t smiling like Lucifer doesn’t mean she’s lacking that mean streak. We have seen the glint in her eye as she passes us on the stairs, bolting towards the kitchen level as we make our sleepy way to coffee in the mornings. The only thing preventing her from doing away with us is that we keep the cat snacks on top of the refrigerator, and it’s not easy for her to climb up there, but the day she figures it out, we’re toast.
Our plan was to try to jostle the stick out of the track with one of the garden poles. Valiantly (because that’s how I roll,) I attempted to go in through the small space that remained open. My arm did really well. It would have been awesome if there hadn’t been the rest of me to contend with. For some strange reason, the man I married thought that -being six inches taller and weighing 40 pounds more than yours truly- he would be able to get into the house that way.
Two solid minutes of “are you calling me fat???” ensued. We then realized that we had to think of alternatives. Mind you, at this point Miss Zelda is just looking at us like she has won the lottery. Because every night we have the same exchange about the car not being locked, I told Dada to go check if he locked the car. For a second he was really happy because, of course, he ALWAYS forgets and get upbraided for it. The logic was: GARAGE DOOR!!!!!!
I admit that, in my desperation to get inside (why is it that when you can’t you HAVE to pee???,) I tried to persuade the cat to cooperate. The cat refused. Seconds ticked by and I heard a lull in J’s movie soundtrack. Eureka!!! I decided to call out to him…
Now, this is the part where I must do a flashback narration. The year is 2004. The place is Santa Fe, NM. It is a cold, cold night in November, and I have gone to close the gate while TGG holds the door open. Dada is in Colorado, and J is -as was his habit at the time- running naked around the house. TGG is in his jammies, and I am wearing a coat, but I’m still cold. TGG is goofing around and, as I call out “make sure you don’t let the door close…we’ll be locked….” CLICK!
Long story short, I had to break a window to get in. Try as we might, J flatly refused to unlock a door for us. We had told him to never, under any circumstances, open the door to the great outdoors. After ten minutes of trying to jimmy windows, persuade the unpersuadable, shimmy in through the pet door, I punched a glass window and got us into the house.
It was with this memory in mind that I called out to J. J! J! J! He came out of the TV room looking annoyed at the interruption. I know I looked stupid. Of course I did! I could see myself reflected back in J’s expression. It was an “ARE YOU SERIOUS???” expression of the highest quality. I meekly whimpered “can you let me in, please?” J took a couple of steps towards me and looked at the cat (his arch-nemesis!,) looked at the stick in the track, looked at his mother..
I heard him sigh. I saw him roll his eyes. He bent down and picked up the stick, pulling the door open for me. Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou…I hugged him. He shrugged and went back to the TV room. I sprinted up the stairs to open the door for Dada who was just starting to walk back to the side of the building.
“Either you got very malleable in short order, or the cat has a merciful streak,” he said. I told him J had answered my call and opened the door for me. ” Thank goodness,” Dada said. “I had visions of you disassembling the whole door frame to get back inside…” We went back to the sitting room and peeked in on J. “Hey, bud…thanks for opening the door!” Dada said.
J just rolled his eyes. Our effusion was unnecessary. We are, after all, his to take care of from now on. We obviously cannot be trusted to not get locked out by a feline. We need J to look out for us. I know this because today, when I went to the garden to water, J stood inside and pushed the sticks as far away from the door as he could with just his foot. He didn’t make a big show of it… It was all very Bob Fosse-like.
And then, like Shane, he was gone…