Sunday, May 18, 2008

No, I Don't Want To Touch Down, Thank You

This has been a pretty busy time for me. I may have mentioned once or twice [grin] that I'm on a deadline for my next book, I also had a workshop I'd signed up to do this month (before I knew the deadline, of course), and I've got another workshop in St. Louis next month. Things are hopping at the university; I'm trying to bring a Chinese neuroscientist over on an H-1B visa and dealing with our International Department is teaching me a whole new definition of the word "patience."

So I've been a bit more distracted than usual.

However, even I couldn't help but notice when Bob the cat decided to forego the floors of my house. He started working on his Tarzan impersonation: jumping from the backdoor to the recliner to the coffee table to the couch to the end table; then swinging to the breakfast room chair and to the kitchen counter and finally to his dishes.

I wouldn't have thought it was possible to navigate my house without setting foot on the floor, but he's been doing a hell of a job. The only thing that has defeated him are the two halls--one from the den to the front door and the other from the front hall to my study (the two halls form an "L" through the middle of my house). When he wants to make those trips, he sits on the couch and howls for a ride, much like a New Yorker waving down a cab.

Because I've been busy (see Paragraph #1), I haven't bothered to try and psychoanalyze his newest quirk. I've just offered ferry services when required. I pick him up and carry him to wherever he wants to go; if I make a wrong turn, he hisses, and I make the appropriate course correction.

Bob's favorite stop on the Maya Transit System is the empty place next to my laptop created by my calico Manx Tribble's death seven months ago. Both Bob and I take comfort from his lying in the same spot where Tribble used to lay. Of course, being Bob, he's a lot more demanding than Tribble ever thought to be. He flings a paw across my wrist when he feels neglected, or stands up to bump my face with his head as a reminder he needs some lovin'. But there's no question; my writing goes better when he's beside me.

I will admit to a bit of anxiety about Bob's avoidance of the floor. I live in a pier-and-beam house. I wondered whether a possum or raccoon was beneath the floorboards. I started having nightmares during which a rabid raccoon burst through the floor, foaming at the mouth. (No, my deadline isn't creating any anxiety, but thank you very much for asking). Despite my listening carefully, I heard nothing coming from below the house. I'm taking the last week of May off (to finish the book) and was planning to call an exterminator at that time.

The mystery of Bob's floor phobia was solved ahead of schedule when I started scratching my ankles: WE HAD FLEAS.

Back when I had more than one animal, I was religious about flea control. Every April, I purchased Frontline topical treatment for the animals and continued the monthly applications until November.

This year with only one cat in the house, I just forgot. And Bob showed no signs of scratching--of course, he was practicing his own version of self-help for fleas by staying off the carpet.

Just one more thing to worry about this month. Did I mention my sleep cycle is off, too?

After I'd treated Bob and the house and ascertained the flea problem was a thing of the past, I declared the Maya Transit System was shutting down service. Of course, Bob did not agree with this abrupt labor strike. He continued to wait at the usual stops along the Maya line, howling for service. I ignored him.

The situation between transport and client came to a head the other night as I whizzed past a regular stop. Like a true commuter, Bob launched himself into the air, intending to jump aboard the passing trolley.

He hit my back roughly below my shoulder blades, hooking his claws into a gorgeous purple knit blouse. The weight of his body tore the lightweight fabric all the way to my waist.

Hell hath no fury like a woman whose favorite blouse has just been shredded off her body. Fortunately for Bob, he hadn't even scratched me once in the process. I swung around and captured the one paw still hooked in my blouse. I lifted him by the leg, unhooked him and dumped him back on the couch.

Recognizing this was a good time to make himself scarce, Bob hit the floor in a blur of motion. He didn't even re-surface at bedtime--a wise decision I might add.

There have been no more requests for mass transit from the feline front.

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