It's Even Worse Than I Had Imagined
Some time back I mentioned that things were really, really awful but, as I began to think back on that assertion I realized that things are actually, palpably, quantifiably worse than I could ever had imagined. Bad. Just really bad.
As I write this Malibu is on fire again, but this being October and Malibu being Malibu this development is not a real shocker. Some miles to the east of our latest conflagaration helicopters have been seeding Griffith Park, still a scarred landscape since fire beat the crap out of it last May, which was a larger blaze than the one that began behind the Oakwood Apartments off of Barham the previous March. Shit's on fire here on a fairly regular basis. It's what gives us Southlanders a sense of continuity in this ever-changing world.
In 1993 we L.A. residents experienced a large Malibu fire. From the 1920s to the present there have been many, many burns, with many structures (and lives) lost. In 2003 much of San Diego County was in flames, and without conjuring up the bones of Nostradamus, it is a fair assertion that fires will continue, as they have for thousands of years, in these locales. But that's not what sucks. What sucks is I am living with seven cats.
My wife and I rescue dogs, and have ended up keeping five of them--four of them because of behavioral issues (not ours, the dogs--we cannot in good faith adopt them out to anyone except the Cheney family and they never, ever call), and the fifth one remains with us because he is Chauncy, God of All Border Collie/Pit Bull Mixes. Various dogs have been in the pack through the years, and I have been whisked off to the hospital on three separate occasions because my skin has not yet learned how to successfully deflect canine incisors. That is all water under the bridge and blood on the history books. My point is: where the fuck did all these cats come from?
We have a two bedroom, one bath Spanish Mission home near the Los Angeles River. Vaulted ceiling in the living room, wooden floors, a pleasant courtyard in front and Dog World out back, and a two car garage at the back end of our corner lot--a two car garage that served (or so we were told by the sellers' realtor) as a speakeasy from the year of the home's birth in 1929 until that commie Roosevelt made hooch legal again in '33. But I digress...this is about cats. Seven cats, not to put too fine a point on it.
Quick cat biographies:
Greta, age 15ish, is beginning to look like Sylvia Sydney in her latter years. Gray and white, with a habit of greeting other cats with a cackling hiss before withdrawing to the rear office. When we first moved to our home she was the young wife of Handsome, a brutish lout of a husband who would kiss and lick her whenever the occasion arose, but then would turn on her and bite her and basically beat her with a sadistic gusto. He became a diabetic, and Greta would often hide his insulin. When he finally passed Greta peed on his grave.
Frankie Blue Eyes & Chubby Laphoarder (aka Chewie Portlander): Frankie, the Siamese Prowler, had been a "shared" neighborhood cat until my wife found out that yet another "neighborhood cat" was struck by a car speeding down our tract street--Donna (mi esposa) decided to make Frankie an indoor cat lest he become another casualty. He thanked us by biting me whenever I attempted to pass him while he guarded the foot of my bed from, I don't know, Halle Berry. Chubby/Chewie belonged to an elderly neighbor--the poor fella (the cat, not the neighbor) had an ear infection which the local veterinary group volunteered to fix for only $3,000. Surgery was performed (with the understanding that our neigbor would cover half of the cost). Soon thereafter our neighbor claimed he had offered no such financial support for the surgery, and to prove it he died six months later. So, we had another cat.
Juan Carlos & Lydia (you can see them pretending to be bored here--just scroll down a bit): these two were street ragamuffins that were inches away from being road kill. They are friends, the same way Hilter and Mussolini were friends.
Shifty Louise (original name was "Japanina Breadcrumb, Ding-Ding" the "ding-ding" sound being achieved by twice striking anything that might make some sort of tinny noise...a clumsy name. An awkward, needlessly showy name): Shifty can be very sweet, and will sit upon your chest and sleep there blissfully, unless anything within two square miles of the house should emit a sound, in which case she will claw you past your soft tissue and vascular system down to the white blood cell factory inside of your bones.
Mrs. Chang (named for Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking--a beautiful and talented author who killed herself in November of 2004): Our Mrs. Chang was (and is) a semi-feral cat who Donna caught next to an alley near our home. She had been living in a garage behind a business--a garage that was slated to be overhauled. Mrs. Chang was caught in a humane trap--being pregnant we took her to a vet who gave her an abortion (there being about two million feral cats in Los Angeles) and spayed her. We brought her home where she enjoys pissing on clothing and shitting on the Ensenada chair in the living room. I have asked my wife to find a home for Mrs. Chang, a different home. My wife has said she will look into it. Note: never name your cat after someone who was beautiful who killed herself. It's a bad idea.
At bedtime, as I lay upon my back with my head upon the pillow, Chewie will position himself upon my neck as he points his ass at my mouth and nostrils from a fraction of an inch away. By articulating his body thusly, he is no doubt winning some secret wager with a fellow feline, and while I applaud this side business of his I am less than enthusiastic about the role he has given me in this enterprise. A further complication: if Juan Carlos jumps up from below the bed (on my right) then Chewie will respond by severing my carotid in not one but two locations. If another cat from my left (usually Frankie Blue Eyes) is attempting to cross over Chewie while Juan Carlos makes his surprise entrance the resulting balkanization of my trachea is actually the best I can hope for, under the circumstances.
Should I lay on the love seat while watching TV in the living room I may as well smear chum on my chest and dive into shark-infested waters (again, it is not a good idea to name your cat after someone who, though beautiful, has killed his or herself). The height of this thrilling living-room activity is when, stuck beneath three cats with two of their asses aimed at my face (the third content to stymie my shins) Mrs. Chang decides she needs to take a shit on the Ensenada chair by the fireplace. The smell--ah, the smell--takes upwards of two seconds to travel to my location on the loveseat--if her bowel movement is a loose one, and it usually is (Note: never name your cat for someone who you think is beautiful who has killed herself) the distance that the smell travels is crossed in a mere one-eighth of a second and has mass as well--quantifiable mass with an atomic weight. But I digress.
I live with seven cats in a modestly sized home and wonder why this is the case--nevermind the additional entertainment of dogs who eat the cat shit out of the litter boxes (a treat we refer to as Almond roca 'a la gato) and then said-cat-shit-eating-dog (yes, I'm talking about you, Rudy) immediately attempts to kiss you on the lips (this must be performed with great rapidity as the ripest flavors are the most evanescent). It is a kind of Murphy's Law as written by cats (for dogs) as it were: the desire to kiss daddy on the lips increases relative to the amount of fresh cat shit one has consumed.
For a long time, whenever I entered a room where Lydia and Juan Carlos were having a quiet moment together, they would look up at me and panic, bolting under our bed or racing out of the bathroom. I imagined that if they could speak they would yell to each other Oh, no! It's that guy who's really nice to us and feeds us and empties the shit boxes. Run away! Run away! They're a little bit better these days. Now they refer to me as "Big Man" instead of as "That guy" so progress has been made.
I've asked my wife not to bring us any more dogs (she just rescued a corgi/shepherd mix in the Lake Castaic area--coincidentally, a wildfire is burning in the Lake Castaic area as I write this) and, with a great deal of sincerity, if if wouldn't be too awfully, awfully much to please not bring us any more cats. True, it's been almost three years since the last addition, the bipolar Mrs. Chang (Note: never name your cat for someone who you thought was beautiful who killed herself) and she deserves credit for showing restraint, still I would like something in writing, nothing too fancy or official, just some document that would allow me to burn our house down if she brings another cat into our lives. A notary might be all that's required.
I wonder how the wealthy deal with their pet problems. Sigh.
#1: My wife and I once took a really feral scratch your eyes out feral cat to a rescue home near the Grapevine, the grade that Interstate 5 has at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. There were over a hundred cats living in this rescue home. Like a Scientologist who hears about Zenu before spending the thousands of dollars necessary to ready one for such an experience, I too was not prepared for being in the presence of the Cathead. Too raw. Too real.
#2: Never name your cat for someone who you thought of as beautiful who killed herself. No good can come of it.
UPDATE: In all non-feline-related seriousness, a large fire appears to be descending upon a neighborhood in Agua Dulce, California. So, as bad as it is with my cat problem, it is possible that hundreds of homes being threatened by a fast-moving fire might in some way be even worse. Yikes.