My mom and I had been discussing forming a book club for a few months, so finally in August, we set things in motion. We held our first meeting, everyone put their $0.02 and we agreed on the “rules” of the club. We meet once a month at a member’s home, or at a restaurant. Tonight we’re meeting at a member’s home and our selection this month was a super cute book entitled, “Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt“. Last night, my mom and I were chatting about the meeting when she said, “I didn’t think you were going to go.” I scrunched up my face and responded, “Why?”. She gave me a strange look and said, “Because she has a cat. She said she’d put it in the basement though.” I dropped the can of diet Pepsi I was holding and gasped. “Ma!! How could you forget?????” Her cheeks deepened and she said, “Oh. Yeah. Guess you’re not going.”
I wasn’t planning to tell ya’ll any more of my crazy cat stories, but since my mom brought it up, I’ll share. Just in case there are any new readers, ya girl is terrified of cats. Think terrified is an exaggeration? Ha! Read this story, or this one, or this one. See? Told ya so. TERRIFIED.
When I was about 12 and my fear had been cemented for many years, I began babysitting for my neighbors directly across the street. They were quite a bit older than my parents and they had adopted a 6 year old, Kia. They would get me to babysit for 2-3 hrs blocks every 3rd Saturday evening at their home so that they could go out to dinner alone. They paid be $25 bucks, which seemed like a million at the time. My parents were fine with it since they lived right across the street and at least one of my parents was always home while I was babysitting.
Kia and I normally colored, watched cartoons, ran around outside and played Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. She had a set of imaginary friends, and my toughest task most evenings was keeping up with her “friends”. I’d sometimes make her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or my mother would come across the street with something yummy like chili or spaghetti.
During the summer of 1988, Kia went to spend a month with her godparents in California and I watched her the weekend after she returned home. It had been almost 2 months since we’d seen once another, so we had a great time just coloring and laughing. Somewhere between what color hair bows Barbie should wear and whether or not I like Rocky Road ice cream, the convo went like this:
Kia: Miss T, did you see Ginger and Paulie yet?
Me: No, are they here now? I’d love to meet them.
Kia: My daddy put ’em in the basement. Wanna get ’em?
Me: Let’s finish this picture, then we can get them.
As I said before, every time I came to Kia’s house, I met a different set of imaginary friends. From Princess Helen, to Smurfina, that girl had created so many characters. I had no way of suspecting that Ginger and Paulie were real. Yeah, ya heard me. Real freaking scary.
Kia and I continued to color our masterpiece, while she chatted incessantly about her new friends and I started half listening. “They are sooooooo cute. And Ginger is my favorite.” Every 5th or 6th word registered, until I heard the word, “fur” and then a nanosecond later, the word “tail”. I shook my head vigorously.
Me: Kia, your friends have fur and tails? I’ve never seen people with fur and tails.
**she gave me the strangest look before giggling**
Kia: Me either Miss T. But cats do.
My eyes grew wide and I froze with panic. I had no way of knowing if she was talking about imaginary cats or real, live, in this damn house cats. I knew my neighbors didn’t have animals. I would never have taken this gig if they did. I wanted to ask more questions, but that would take time. If the cats were real, I needed to escape before they attacked. I squeezed her hand tightly and practically dragged her toward the front door like a lifeless ragdoll. Just as my foot fit the tile by the front door, I heard a faint scratching sound. Not to be confused with the sounds of her sneakers rubbing across the carpet or my thighs rubbing together, but a bonafied claw on wood scratching sound. I’d like to say that I spun around and was prepared to fight.
Yeah, I’d like to say that. But, I think ya’ll know me and the depths of my fear a wee bit better than that. I freaked the hell out! Turned around to scan the living room for the beasts, then screamed when my eyes met theirs. Forgot all about the young soul that had been entrusted to me and attempted to run out the door solo. Yep, I was gonna just leave the baby. Hell, it wasn’t a fire or anything. Those were her damn friends. She didn’t fear for her life like I did. Unfortunately, MrsTDJ has always been a mighty clumsy gal, so I slipped on the tile and fell face first onto the floor, knocking myself into a cloud of darkness.
When I finally was able to open my eyes, I was staring into the my mother’s face and I could hear Kia’s little voice laughing with my dad in the distance. Bless her heart, because after she realized that I was ok, my mother held it together and didn’t laugh at my silliness. I guess that’s part of being a parent. Even I laughed when I saw myself in the mirror looking like this:
Turns out that my lovely neighbors thought it would be great to surprise Kia when she returned from California with a pair of kittens. Ugh! Somehow it hadn’t come up in conversation before they left for dinner that night. The kittens were given free roam in the basement, but apparently the door to the basement hadn’t quite been closed all the way. With some determination, the 2 kittens were able to push the door open in their efforts to attack and dismember my being. **sigh** Let’s just say that I never sat for Kia again at her house, but she did come to my house.
So, um, yeah, deuces to my bookclub tonight. I don’t play that. If you have cats, I will not come to your house. I just can’t. And since they didn’t even warn me about them although we discussed pets during our first meeting, that tells me that you don’t understand or take my fear serious enough. I’m cool with that. My fear is mine and it’s no ones responsibility to cater to me. I’m usually completely firm in my avoidance policy and I don’t fall for, “My cat is more scared of you”, “He/she wouldn’t hurt a fly”, and “I’ll lock it in the basement/bedroom/bathroom”. Hmph. Nope, not gonna be able to do it.