A Christmas tale in two parts….

Part 1 – Some New Found Friends or How Jerry Springer Saved Christmas (well, for me anyway)

Christmas season is always stressful enough, for those you who don’t believe me, I refer you to my daylog of December 18, 2002. Well, after spending the earlier part of the week with my kid, the time had come for her to make her way to her mothers’ house. So it was that about 3:00 PM on Christmas Eve, she made her departure.

After she left the house and the quiet had set in, it began to feel, I dunno so… ….empty. The walls seemed to be closing in and I was desperate for company. What’s a person to do? My first thought was to make my way to my local watering hole to see if any other folks had been “orphaned” or faced a similar predicament. Hey, there’s some truth to the old saying that misery loves company and I was feeling pretty damn miserable. So I bundled myself up and out the door I went. Well, needless to say, the place was closed. No problem though, there’s always watering hole number two. Ditto that. Watering hole number three actually had a sign on their door saying that they would be closed both Christmas Eve and Christmas day and that they were sorry that they wouldn’t be able to save their patrons from their families. Shit, what am I gonna do? The last place I felt like being was at home by myself feeling the way I was feeling. As a last ditch effort I decided to try watering hole number four and was pleased to see the neon lights beckoning to me along with a few scattered cars in the parking lot.

As I made my way to the bar I soon had the feeling I had made a mistake. The other patrons all seemed to be regulars and I felt like I was trespassing.. But, another part of me thinks that its bad form to enter a place and not order something. I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer, content to keep to myself. At least I had some “company”. I turned my attention to the television.

At first glance I thought to myself “Oh, shit” – freakin’ Jerry Springer and his group of mongoloids chanting JERRY!, JERRY! JERRY!. Oh ye of little faith, little did I realized I was now in for a treat.

It seems the subject of Jerry’s show was along the lines of fucked up Christmases. Everything from the “Mistress Who Stole Christmas” to “Drunk Uncle Who Ruined Christmas” was there in all its spectacular glory. There were family videos of Christmas trees being throw out of doors and set on fire, there were food fights, there were drinks thrown in faces, there were allegations of adultery, incest and other ungodly charges. I started to laugh out loud at some of the folks being portrayed in the worst of circumstances figuring, hey, at least its not me.

Its at this point that a voice from the other end of the bar called out and asked if I wanted to join the little party that was going on over there. Emboldened by a couple of more beers, I was happy to oblige. We then spent the next hour laughing together at the Springer show and the next couple of hours discussing the world, family, and the holidays in general.

When it was time to leave, I thanked everybody for making me feel so welcome. In that short time span I felt I had made a few friends (though I doubt I’ll ever see them again) and that something was shared between us. Even if it was only to poke fun at Jerry Springer, a certain camaraderie had been established. I could now go home to my house, secure in the knowledge that at least I wasn’t as bad off as some of the poor folks that felt the need to have their lives put on display by Mr. Springer. Once I got home, I would tend to my latest addition, a kitten that my daughter had picked out earlier in the week. But first I need to go for a smoke….

A Kitten For Anna

That title might be a little misleading. You see, as I went about doing the “normal” things one would do in order to prepare Christmas for an eight year old such as shopping, gift-wrapping, etc, etc, etc, the idea dawned on me that my daughter might appreciate a kitten. The purpose of the gift was twofold. First of all, who was I kidding, I knew that she would love to have a kitten. Second of all, since I live alone on a weekly basis and don’t spend much time at home, I thought a kitten would make for some good company for me. It would at least be an excuse to forego a happy hour or two and get myself home in order to tend to the little beast.

At first I had this grandiose scheme to somehow smuggle the kitten inside the house on Christmas morning and it would be the first thing my little one would see when she woke up. Visions of her playing with the bundle of fur filled my head and I went about planning on how to surprise her. As Christmas week drew near I realized that this would be close to impossible. The way that the time was divided between my ex- and I (I again refer you to my daylog of December 18, 2002) was largely to blame. What was I to do?

The thought occurred to me that maybe she’d like to pick one out for herself and so on Monday last, I decided to surprise her. I brought her into my office and decided to leave at around noon or so. At that point, without telling her where we were going, we made our way to a fine institution called Cat Welfare where they had assured me that had a variety of kittens to choose from.

For those of you who are so-called “cat people”, what do you envision when you picture a kitten? For me, they range anywhere from 10-15 weeks or so in age and all they care to do is sleep and play with an occasional meal thrown in. It seems the fine folks at Cat Welfare have a different definition. They define “kitten” as just about anything under the age of two and that’s about all they had to choose from. Since we were already there I felt that we couldn’t leave empty handed. I just couldn’t picture saying to her, “Sorry honey, see all those cute, abandoned cats? You can’t have one.” Ugh!

So it was, with great fanfare and inspection that we made our way through what seemed like every cat in the place. They were fondled, played with, spoken to and played with some more. After an hour or so, my daughter decided on one that went by the name of Spice. He is a tortie, who played with abandon and has a pretty good disposition (until we got her home, more on that later). After she made her decision, paperwork was filled out, the cat got her final shots, a “donation” was made and she was boxed up and ready to go.

The ride home was uneventful. The cat didn’t make a noise as she lay resting in the box that sat on my daughters lap. A trip to the grocery store was made in order to pick up a assorted few cat toys and other added necessities such as food, kitty litter etc, etc, etc. I couldn’t wait to get home and let the fun begin. Sure, it wasn’t Christmas just yet but it was the next best thing.

Well, we get home and open up the box. Spice peeks his out and jumps out of the box. and takes a cursory look around downstairs and then makes her way to the upstairs.

It’s now Thursday and that is just about the last we’ve seen of her. Oh, we’ve seen evidence that she’s around such as a some food being eaten and use of the litter box but the cat has taken refuge under either my bed or my daughters bed and no-matter how much coaxing we do, refuses to come out. Both of us are a little disappointed. Me because of my pre-ordained notions about how Christmas was going to be spent and her because she was looking forward to playing with the cat.

Is it possible that the cat became “institutionalized”? Does it miss the other cats that it grown accustomed to? How long will it take before it acclimates itself to its new surroundings? How long do I give it until I call the fine folks at Cat Welfare and “exchange” Spice for a cat that is friendlier and more sociable in nature? (They have a ten day exchange/return policy). My daughter and I discuss these matters and as it turns out she’s a lot more patient that I am. She’s willing to wait nine days in order for Spice to show semblance that she’s happy. Me on the other hand, perhaps displaying my tendency to pass judgment, thinks I’ll give her until this Saturday. That’s almost six days for her to get over whatever “cat shock” she might be experiencing. If nothing is forthcoming, I’ll take her back to Cat Welfare and pick out another one. I hate to do it but I don’t want the three of us to be miserable.

If any of you noders out there have had a similar experience(s) regarding the adoption of older cats and have some advice to offer, by all means, please /msg me.