Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Scott and Candy's Cross-Country Adventure

If you've read my blog in the past you already know how much I detest flying. Driving/riding in a car is just a different back alleyway of Hell.

Scott, Hankie and I took off from the beautiful flatness of central Illinois on Tuesday, June 5th. We were already a day late leaving town because it took that long to load the truck and then to do that awful last part: picking up all the odds and ends in the house and either tossing them onto the heaping pile of garbage, or finding a nook or cranny for them in the car.

The supply of nooks and crannies dried up fast. For 2 reasons:

1. I refused to trust any of my photos (thousands) or journals (28 years of them) to a moving truck. They had to go in the car with me. These items alone filled my poor Honda Accord to its bulging metal gills.

2. Scott and I fashioned what we considered to be the perfect car-bed for Hankie. We took a big soft suitcase, snipped off the lid with a pair of limb loppers, filled the remaining piece with "blankies for Hankie" and put his smelliest, most cat fur-coated ones on top. (I put the new invention in my house weeks ago so he'd get used to it and then jump with glee into the car when it was time to head for the southwest. I am an enormously naive dumbass.)

When we hit the road around noon on Tuesday, Hankie was in a bed/balcony in the back seat overlooking my head. His litter box was next to his bed, and he had an ideal skybox from which to view the sights. Voila!

The initial 30 minutes were rough. He wanted me to hold him, then he wanted to be back in his suitcase. He wanted me to hold him. Then he wanted to be back in the case. Hold him. Case. The inside of the car was a swirling snowglobe of fur. I swear to you, I just this minute sneezed purely from the sensory memory of it.

Time passed. Hankie settled down. He actually got into the suitcase and went to sleep. Scott and I were thrilled. Our cat-travel-bed prototype had earned its place in pet history. 15 minutes later, my intelligent cat got into his litter box and peed. Scott and I continued our figurative high-fiving and bold self-congratulatory remarks.

Then. The rest stop.

The idea was that we'd take Hankie out on his supremely stylish purple harness and let him sniff the grass in rest areas covering 6 states. He loves to be outside. What a good, wholesome idea to leash him up and share the adventure of the trip with him.

Unless you choose a rest stop that is positioned between the two sides of the highway, with hundreds of semis barreling down the freeway. Since Hankie has developed significant hearing loss in his advanced age (he is 100 in human years), we thought the sounds would go unnoticed. They didn't. He would not eat from his plate or drink from his tiny bowl. He gazed up at me with the most crystal clear expression: "You stupid hag."

It was time to go.

And go we did. I was distraught, believing this to be the big sign that Hankie would drop dead on the trip, like a pioneer, face-down in a smallpox blanket, falling off the back of a Conestoga wagon. I was freaking out. I was a horrible person for putting my ancient cat through this. Perhaps if given the choice he would have opted for a clandestine meeting with the Kevorkian of the cat world, where he could gracefully bow out of this worldly plane and avoid the agonizing car ride.

Scott started the car to cool it off. I hurried to get Hankie into his suitcase, away from the screaming 18-wheelers. I opened the back door of the Honda. I plopped him into the suitcase. I closed the f*cking door on his tail. No, listen: I closed the DOOR on his TAIL. I have no words to describe the horror that shot through me during that split second when I saw his tail sticking out of the closed door. Panic seared through me like fire up a strand of hair. I tried to scream but my vocal cords had tunneled to the core of the earth and woven themselves into a fleshy placemat.

Through the car window, I witnessed a silent-movie version of Hankie's agony. He meowed so fiercely with his mouth so wide open that suddenly the peeled-back face of Mariah Carey faced me, hitting a note high enough to shatter the contact lenses of every myope in Missouri. "Show me" state? I'll show you. I'll show you just how petrifyingly stupid a woman can be.

I opened the door and poured out my apologies, rubbing his wounded tail and checking it for breaks. Hankie looked miserable. Scott's face was a smear of disbelief. Hankie climbed out of the suitcase and skulked down to the shadowy floorboard, next to my feet and curled up like a pill bug. It was the closest thing to escaping the imbeciles he was with.

Make that singular. I was the lone imbecile, sitting in the passenger seat, my forehead against the dashboard, lamenting the awfulness of life, etc. etc. with the drama normally seen only in Russian novels.

We headed down the highway, quietly.


  • At 12:27 PM, Blogger Domhan said…

    Poor, poor Hankie...and Candy! The guilt a momma feels when something like this happens is horrible. (I cut my 6-year-old son's eyelid with a pair of scissors during a Halloween costume mishap. That's all I have to say about that.)

    What a great travelogue opening. I'm hoping that chapter 2 is coming soon?

  • At 4:41 PM, Blogger Citlali said…

    Wow. I so completely know what it feels like to shut a door on a kitty tail! One never wants to hear that noise again -- it hurt just to read about it. You poor guys. Ugh. = ]


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