Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Headed for the Hoosier State

Tomorrow I'm flying "home" to see the family. My last trip there was in early August for my 30-year high school reunion. I stayed for 8 days and got the chance to lazily hang out with my parents and sister et al.

This time it'll be an annoyingly short trip. I fly in Thursday evening and back out Sunday afternoon. I had to get a "sub" for my Thursday afternoon class at the High School Pretending to Be a College. At the Big Giant University, I had the freedom to call off class a couple times a semester, and rather than "deprive" the students, it came as a nice break for them to try to get caught up with things. A mental health break for all of us. Ah well...them days is gone.

Scott will be left alone, again, with Hankie, who has taken on a new ghoulish habit. While I was in Indiana in August, Hankie began going to our closed bedroom door around 5 a.m. and howling. A loud, hideous, gutteral howl that seemed to translate into "Someone has my balls squeezed tightly into a pair of needle-nosed pliers AND are simultaneously dipping all 4 of my paws in hydrochloric acid." Scott was awakened from a deep sleep and ran to see what was wrong.

Nothing was wrong. It was just a skinny, 8-pound, 19-year-old cat apparently looking for "him mommy." Scott petted him and reassured him that all was well and Hankie went back to sleep in one of his designated spots in the living room.

That was August. I came home and the howling has happened off and on since then. It is impossible to ignore. Which brings us to October and our deep exasperation with our self-appointed "furry alarm clock" as Scott calls him. Now, every single early, early morning Hankie comes to call. 4:00 a.m. 12:48 a.m. Never any later than 5:30 a.m.

You might be thinking that if we'd just leave our bedroom door open, he'd find us home when he does his demonic Avon Lady routine and he could step right in and try out his sample lipsticks on us and that would be that. But neither Scott nor I can deal with an animal crawling over us unexpectedly during the night. Unless it happens to be one of us.

Scott strongly encourages me to ignore Hankie's dead-of-night pleading. We can break him of this habit, he says. But there are 2 obstacles to this plan:

1. My maternal instinct, even though it may be tiny enough to fit into the armpit of a praying mantis, tells me that my "baby" is in despair.

2. My bladder, small enough to fit into the other armpit, cries out with its own netherworldly howling when it is awakened.

So the scenario goes something like this:

Scott and Candy, soundly sleeping.



Thought Clouds Above Both Our Heads: "Nobody move. Don't let him know we're in here."


Scott: "Ignore him."

Candy: "I'm dying! I have to pee!"

Scott: "Wait 5 minutes. Wait until he goes away. Don't reward him."

Candy: (waiting, gritting teeth, shifting positions, thinking of desert sand and cacti and dry, dry things)

Candy: "He's gone. I'm going now."


Candy: "Hell. Dammit. I'm still going."

I try hard to follow the protocol. I refuse eye contact with Hankie. I do not pat his head when he follows me to the bathroom. I do not feed him. I snub him. I show him who's boss. I walk past him in a cold Nazi goose-step on the way back to bed. I glance sideways. I see his pleading eyes, his skinny little body, the forlorn tilt of his head.

I give in. I turn on the kitchen light. I feed him. I scratch his ears. I whisper to him "This never happened."

Thus, the die is cast for the next night.

And if you're wondering if Hankie is crying out from hunger because we've left him no food, think again. He is never without at least one bowl of dry food, 2 saucers of canned food, and a "nightcap" of milk. He simply wants to make us his bitches.

I've read everything I could find online about elderly cats who meow loudly at night. The consensus is that very old cats get either a) senile or b) gradually deaf and blind. Both conditions make for an insecure, house-wandering kitty who needs to find his owner.

Hankie has been losing his hearing for a few years. He hears very little now. He wobbles a bit when he walks. He is far, far into his golden years. He needs some middle-of-the-night reassurance from his family. And somewhere on his neural turf is a neon sign that says "Wake them up. You have something to tell them."


  • At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, I don't blame him for being afraid with all of those faces showing up in unexpected places around that house--not to mention the creepy dead lizard and the police helicopters!

    Poor widdle Hankie. :-(

    I am going to go out tomorrow and find him a special present to make him feel better. He is my nephew, after all.

  • At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh! And have a great time in Indiana! :-)

  • At 11:14 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Poor Hankie is right. He is convinced the desert is haunted.

    Him loves him Aunt Futuresis.


  • At 5:43 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Cats howl like that when they sense the presence of demons and ghouls. They are very tuned in to the afterlife and they think their howling will prevent the undead from intruding into the world of the living. The howling should be interpreted as a sign of danger.

    Hankie knows that if you fall asleep, the demons can possess your spirit, then you wake up and want to watch Oprah and Judge Judy an' shit, or you want to become intimate with a cream filled Duncan Donut....hmmmmmmmm.

  • At 7:02 AM, Blogger Lisa Dunick said…

    Oh man- I'm finally getting full nights of sleep. Don't tell me that an aging cat can pull a newborn routine on me. blech.

  • At 7:36 AM, Blogger prairie biker said…

    Get him a kitten.

  • At 8:52 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jerry, the undead still intrudes in his life when I come out of the bedroom.

    Wait, you mean I might wake up and be myself?

  • At 8:53 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    LD, yep, it's true. Might as well do something pre-emptive...have another baby!

  • At 8:53 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    PB, he wouldn't know what to do with a kitten except for exhaustedly watch it and become irritated. Like poor old grampa left with the 2 year old.

  • At 10:20 AM, Blogger Domhan said…

    I had to pick my chewing gum off of the computer screen when I read the "demonic Avon lady routine" bit. Here's the image I had: You and Scott decide you can live with an open bedroom door policy with Hankie. One morning you wake up with faces so painted up with lipstick you'd think you both passed out drunk at a frat party.

    ...and ten minutes later I'm still giggling about that image. It's playing in my head like a Ken Burns documentary.

    It's nearly lunchtime, and blog commenter Jerry just HAD to mention cream filled Dunkin' Donuts....HMMMMM! I'm heading out to Quincy, MA first thing in the morning. Quincy: HOME of Dunkin' Donuts. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm, doooonuuuutssssaaarrrghhh.

  • At 6:10 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Like a Ken Burns documentary! HAA! It would almost take Ken Burns to document the long life of Hankie.

    You're going to THE SOURCE of Dunkin' Donuts??? It reminds me of that scene in Planet of the Apes where all the apes bow down to the giant missile.

    Only reverence will do for some things.

  • At 7:25 PM, Blogger Steve B said…

    When I was in high school I used to sleep with the window open at night. Until, that is, our night prowling cat wanted back in the house, and climbed up the woodpile outside my window, jump in, and landed in the big middle of me as I lay sleeping. Talk about a rude awakening!

    And then there was the night I woke up with the little flea-bag wrapped around my forehead and her tail tucked under my nose.

  • At 8:08 PM, Blogger Lisa Dunick said…

    Why do people keep saying that?? I think it's because a) they don't have any or b) forget the hell that having a newborn can be.

    But really... I'm just wondering how you get your little Hanky down to a svelte 9 lbs. My little tub is holding strong at 13.

    The cat that is...

  • At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Don't try to break a cat that old of anything. Don't do it. He's older than you are. He's wiser than you are. He's probably communing with God and intervening on your behalf on a daily basis. When he howls like that give him tuna and some cottage cheese. Maybe a little French Vanilla non-dairy creamer. RESPECT the aged.

  • At 9:04 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Steve, What a creative cat you had. First she used you for a trampoline, then a bean-bag chair.

    I'd have had 16 coronaries when she landed on me from the woodpile.

  • At 9:06 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Ana, I TOTALLY believe Hankie is communing with God. He's a multi-layered cat who is definitely aware of various planes of existence.

    I also like that even though he takes on holy pursuits, he's still down to earth enough to spend important moments licking his butt.

  • At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's best we not comment on the personal hygiene of the one that intercedes for us. The Buddah for example. Died in his own excrement, right?

  • At 9:29 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    LD, Hankie got svelte by living to be a poor old elderly man of a cat. He used to be a big cat and now he's skinny and fragile. And still great.

  • At 9:30 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    So true, Ana. And I think Elvis did too.

  • At 10:52 PM, Blogger Gail said…

    Poor Hankie. It sees a ghost and needs to be in bed with Mom!

  • At 10:33 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    So all this time, Hankie has been a ghost whisperer (though a timid one) and I've been scolding him.

  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    I like Duncan Donut's jelly filled with the granular sugar coating, and the creme filled with the granular sugar coating. I once ate 2 of each for breakfast for about a month; I gained 18 pounds.

    But ah my foes and oh my friends I made a chubby sight.

  • At 10:39 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Mmmmmm. I could eat 5 or 6 of those without coming up for air. And then drink a big glass of milk and then moan in some death throes.

    My personal fave: Bavarian cream filled with chocolate icing on top. I have killed for those.

  • At 1:02 PM, Blogger Jerry said…

    "Moan in some death throes." Yeah baby, death by donut; what a way to go. I think if I ever commit suicide, I'll use this strategy--two dozen cream filled and a half-gallon of milk.

    But, whose going to run back up to Duncan Donut if you need...say, 4 dozen to put you down?

    My sister broke up with her boyfriend and ate 20 boxes of Brach's chocolate covered cherries. I dont think I could eat more than 4 or 5 boxes myself. She's my heroine.

  • At 1:08 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    She should've been in the hospital after that. How long did it take her?

    My own personal best in sugar intake is 4 of those big fat Cadbury Creme Eggs (the ones with the fake yellow yokes in the middle) in one evening. I then hallucinated.

  • At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When I was expecting my first child, I had severe morning sickness. The only thing that sounded good to me was a box of Dunkin' Donuts' glazed Munchkins. Unfortunately, I was living in a small farming village in Germany at the time. I couldn't eat just any donut holes. They HAD to be glazed Munchkins. I tried to make my own homemade Munchkins, but I almost set our kitchen on fire. I knew there was a Dunkin' Donuts somewhere in London, but I never would have endured the car trip without vomiting so much I'd need IV fluids. I wanted those things so badly I would have sold a kidney for them.

  • At 2:25 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    "get him a kitten"

    No way, man. They teach the kittens to howl too, and then you have a fricken Greek chorus waking you up at 5:30. It's true. I have them. 0.0
    But I wouldn't do without the both of them, that's the sad part. We truly are our cats' bitches. Sigh.

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Futuresis, you can't possibly make homemade Munchkins unless you have all the unspeakable ingredients that Dunkin Donuts uses. And those are not available to normal humans.

  • At 10:28 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Mel, I love the idea of a Greek chorus. Very forlorn and dramatic, which is exactly how that howling sounds. Perhaps Hankie is standing outside our door in a toga and we don't even know it.

  • At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 11:12 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…


    Candy--are you aware that you split an infinitive early in your lastest? (" the chance to lazily hang out with my parents and....") I was totally floored; I had to take to my day bed with a cloth impregnated with eau de cologne ("Night in Tangiers")pressed to my brow.

    My first thought of course was for your parents. You realize that the whole town of ******* will be talking of this and little else during your visit? And The League of Hoosier Grammarians...they're known for their savagery.

    Look, Candy, I know, we all know, you're not a bad person...but promise me you'll think about this, OK?
    PS. Oh, and about the cat. Get hold of that Animal Psychic lady... the one that used to be on the Animal Planet TV? She'll have a good talk with Hankie... maybe it's just a question of upgrading his Meow Mix.

  • At 11:19 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Tony, you are correct, sir! (Does that sound like Ed McMahon speaking to Carnac?)

    I did indeed commit a grammatical foul of heinous proportion. But I gotta be boning up on such mistakes for my non-academic future. In just 9 more weeks I'll be seeing the community college in the rearview mirror and can, once and for all, be off duty for speaking English. Which is very helpful when living in Northern Mexico (formerly called Phoenix).

  • At 8:20 AM, Blogger Jerry said…

    Yuh know, the problem most students have with grammar is understanding the relevance of rules. IMHO, we should be teaching children and adults how to express emotions...their interior life...precisely...exactly. Teaching anyone who cares to put words into a context, how to represent their experiences through words; how to let others know who they are in words.

    The page is a canvas, and words are the lines and colors. If someone had told me to write down words that accurately represented how I was feeling, then told me that after I had mastered that we would work on how grammar and syntax could help strengthen the imagery--the lines and color of my painting, then I would have relaxed a bit and focused on imagery, and rhythm, and pace, and metaphor, and rime and connotation and...stuff.

    Instead, we get the shit bored out of us for years learning rules and learning how to associate the word "English" with tiresome stuff we want to avoid. Lets start our kids off with creative writing and end with the rules. Let them play in the sand with a shovel before you start teaching them geology.

    Most of the people I know are afraid to put one sequence of words on a piece of paper because they fear criticism and correction; they fear appearing stupid, and God knows we have more than enough input about our inadequacies already.

    At age 64, I am just beginning to learn a bit about expressing myself. I am overcoming years of "correction" about grammar...about editing...about the misuse of words and misspellings.

    I would give much of what I have to be able to write a few lines like this (irrespective of whether the grammar is correct):

    "A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."

  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    That is one of my favorite short stories, EVAH.

    I would consider soul-selling, if I thought it would help me to write like Joyce. Period. Just consider it, though--in case Screwtape is reading this, too.

  • At 1:29 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    "By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss-waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will remain split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed and attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have."
    (Raymond Chandler, to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly.)
    Sorry. I'll leave ya alone now :D

  • At 2:11 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Jerry, that IS some of the most excellent writing ever. No matter how grim, it's delicious. When I read something like that I get that uncomfortable mix of being overjoyed at having eaten an out of this world meal, and being sorrowful that not only did I not cook it, I would never be able to even enter that kitchen as a dishwasher.

    Mel, that Chandler quote is amazing. I love the feeling of his own humbleness you get from the last sentence, too. Part of the whole problem/joy of writing is trying to locate who you are, and what your voice sounds like. Is it that way for you too? What about you, Jerry?

  • At 3:02 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    The struggle with voice and plot are the two things that keep my brain humming. I love it though--even if I don't hit the big time, I'll probably always write something. Even if it's just graffiti on other peoples' blogs, heh.

  • At 4:09 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Mel, me too, about the always writing something. I find it really interesting that certain brains hum with plot and character and others with only nonfiction type writing. I tried my hand at fiction in grad school and fell flat. My heart just wasn't in it. So I'm always into knowing more about how that particular humming mechanism works.

  • At 4:16 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I'd like to do both, actually--fiction and what they're calling 'creative non-fiction' these days. Only lethal laziness and possibly (even more likely) a lack of talent are preventing me, sigh.

  • At 5:19 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Mel, not lack of talent in your case. But I'm also familiar with that lethal thing you mentioned. Lethal and sinister.


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