My fear and loathing of felines has been well documented over the years. In case you haven’t read my tales of woe as they relate to those creepy critters, you should probably read about my earlier encounters. Things started HERE, and continued to get worse HERE, HERE and HERE. Last week I had an incident with a vicious tiger, but I’m not ready to talk about that yet since it’s still too fresh in my mind. Instead, let’s take a walk down memory lane, back to the time that I almost killed my little cousin because of a stalking jaguar cub.
Taking it all the way back to 1994, the parents and I had already moved “down south” to the DC metro area, but we missed NY desperately and made pilgrimages home as often as we could. Easter ’94 was spent on Long Island and that Sunday, we were over a relative’s house for a huge family dinner. As is often the case when my family gets together, the noise is at decibels high enough to be heard in space, the food delicious enough to be served to visiting Presidents for a pretty penny, and the chaos is overwhelming enough to make a circus performer run screaming in agony to escape our brand of crazy. I love my family and the older I get, the more I realize just how much of a rarity we are. I wouldn’t trade our kind of dysfunctionally close crazy for ANYTHING.
So, back to Easter. There were about 80 folks gathered at my aunt’s house and we were having a fantastic time. One staple of our family gatherings is a good game of rise and fly bid whist. I’ll go ahead and break that down so most of y’all don’t have to go ask Mr. Google. Simply put – Bid whist is a card game that is similar to spades, except the trump changes each hand depending on which player wins the bid. Rise and fly means that you play in teams of two, and after one team loses, they move out and another team moves in.
I was playing, with my mother as my partner, and all was going well. We were sitting at the kitchen table and the younger kids were playing some type of chasing/crawling/squealing game, using the table as a prop. I was having a tough time concentrating on my hand because the kids kept rubbing against and bumping our legs. Numerous times, I’d bend over, peek under the table and scold them to, “Keep it down and watch our legs”. Each time they apologized and twenty seconds later, they’d bump us again.
After a while, the kids started to annoy me a little. Back before I became a mother, my patience was non-existent. Not that it’s so fantastic now, but having Little TDJ definitely helped me to develop a bit. I leaned over, prepared to put a little base in my voice so they would know I was serious and found myself facing the beast! In an instant, I’d gone from grinning since we were three books from winning the game to looking into the eyes of the tiger. My instincts kicked in immediately! I screamed and fought to escape the crosshairs of the monster.
Did I mention that I was seated with my back to the wall?
Oh, I didn’t?
Yeah, I was.
Trapped in the corner with the panther rubbing my leg and advancing on me!
Oh hell no!! I refused to get taken alive.
I summoned all the strength I had and in one sorta smooth kinda awkward motion, I flipped the kitchen table over, sending my mother sailing backwards in her chair as the table sailed into her chest.
Oh, wait, did I mention that I was holding my one year old cousin?
Damn, I didn’t?
Yeah, I was.
She popped out of my arms like biscuit dough escaping a can, giggling with glee as if this were all a game. Thank goodness my aunt, seated to my right and fairly agile, threw her arms in the air even as she too was sailing backwards due to the force with which I had overturned the table.
No one ever thought it important to tell me that my aunt had rented out her basement to a family friend. This family friend owned a cougar. The cougar was black as coal with steely, flat grey eyes. ***shivers*** The memories still haunt me. I don’t know that anyone ever told my little cousin this story. So, errs, TTG, if you’re reading – I’m really sorry for almost launching you across the kitchen and not really caring where you landed. My LIFE was in danger. In that moment, your well-being wasn’t even a thought. I’ve learned to control my phobia juuuuuuuuust a little, but only when I’m in the presence of Little TDJ. I recognize that phobias are irrational and don’t want to contribute to him forming any. I haven’t been tested yet, but I’m confident that I’d give my life for this kid. I know that I’d surely jump in front of a speeding bullet, an out of control car or a stalking mountain lion. Let’s hope I never have to prove it.