Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Humphrey Holiday!

My sister and brother-in-law planned to be out of town yesterday, which was fine by me, because I had rented The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Maltese Falcon, and The Big Sleep from the library. December 25 was Humphrey Bogart's birthday so I decided to commemorate him with a movie marathon. I would have rented more, but Anna invited me to accompany her to some party. And don't worry, I gave Troll 2 to my sister, before she left.

Anna had called me two days previous. "Ray, I've been invited to this party and I don't want to go alone. I don't really know very many people who are going and I'd like someone with me. Lester's got his family thing, everyone else has their family things, so I thought you might do me the favor."

"I don't want to go."

"I knew you wouldn't. But I need you. Everyone else is busy."

"I'm busy too! Do you have any idea what day that is?"


"Humphrey Bogart's birthday."

"Uh-huh." She was unimpressed.

"Okay, I'll come."

"Thanks, Ray. It'll be fun!"

Anna picked me up and we drove to the house, which looked too nice, even on the outside, two-stories and all, and I began to get nervous. Anna brought a bottle of wine which we found, as our coats were taken from us by the young and attractive husband, would not be needed as the young and attractive wife offered us mulled wine or eggnog. I felt even more out of place as more people formed, all with clean, not-too-bright (got to be safe!) shirts and blouses, clean facial hair, and great smiles.

While I concentrated on navigating through the stylish furniture and eating the brie cheese topped with a brown-sugar-and-walnut syrup, gingersnap cookies with real fresh ginger on top, and crackers with cream cheese and red pepper jelly (all of these I felt weird eating, trying to figure out if I really liked them or not and just waiting for chips to appear that never did), Anna worked the room like a champ. As I pretended to study the abstract paintings hanging on the wall, my hands folded behind my back to make me look smarter, I watched Anna chat with people she didn't even know, making them laugh and smile, pressing her hand on their arms.

Between random people sitting next to me on the couch and asking questions like "What do you do?" and "How do you know Ivan and Audrey (the hosts)?" I watched the son of one of the young couples play in the middle of the living room. He was two-years-old and had this trick where his dad or mom would ask, "Henry, what is your middle name?" and as everyone watched, all smiles, Henry would squeak cutely, "Danger!" And everyone would laugh and ask, and the parents would answer proudly, "Yes, his middle name really is Danger!"

Oh, you clever young professionals! I didn't like answering their questions very much because I didn't have a cool position title (like Media and Technology Specialist)and I didn't bring any fancy little food dish, and I didn't make any clever one-liners in the midst of the conversations that made everyone laugh.

I just hope Anna didn't regret that she invited me, but I didn't dare ask.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why I Work at PetSmart

Sorry you haven't heard from me in awhile. I don't get out as much to the library since there is snow now and the streets unbicycleable. I don't like as much to walk or to ride the bus, (unless I want to spend my time overhearing funny discussions or uncomfortable arguments between other bus-patrons) so I am not here as much. Not to mention, I have been spending my time writing a Gothic story! I know I'm late, seeing as how Halloween passed a month and a half ago, but sometimes you can't stop creativity when it flows anymore than you can stop a leaky faucet with no handles! It's like trying to bridal a horse with no head or trying to handcuff an armless centipede. It's just not going to happen. My Gothic story is not quite finished, but to whet your appetite here is a scary story from my childhood.

When I was young I wanted a kitten. I wanted a kitten so bad that I used to sneak cat food and cat toys into my mom's grocery cart when I was younger as a subtle hint. But then I got smart. So I never mentioned anything about kittens again for several months. I even went so far as to cheer for Edgar the Butler in the Aristocats. After this I saved my allowance for weeks until I had $5. The genius of my plan was that it was fail-safe. There was no way it wouldn't work.

After school, on the way home, I followed the directions to a house that had advertised at the local supermarket "Adorable Kittens." I crept up the porch and rung the doorbell. "I want one of your kittens," I said, holding up the five $1 banknotes.

The large woman in the apron peered down at me over her eyeglasses. "Your mom know you are here?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered confidently.

"Humph," she said, shrugging, and making a face that puffed out her red cheeks. "Wait here." She turned into her house and a few minuted later returned with a large cardboard box, with three circular air-holes cut into each side. We exchanged items. She shut the door and I grinned as I looked through one of the holes at a tiny white-and-black ball of, exactly what the advertisement said, adorable fluff and whiskers.

"Meow!" I told it and when it didn't answer, I skipped back home. I left the box on our porch and quietly walked inside, saying nothing to my mom. See, that is what was so genius about my plan. She would have no idea it was I who put it there and even if she suspected, she couldn't just leave a cute little kitten there. She wouldn't know what else to do, but to keep it. And I would finally have my kitten!

Oh, how excited I was, but I pretended only to be excited about playing with Legos. I waited so patiently, knowing I could not reveal anything about the kitten. At long last, my mom came into my room and said, "I'm going to the store."

"That's nice," I answered, brilliantly sounding like I did not know she was about to find a new pet on her doorstep.

She shut the door and I waited patiently for a few minutes, imagining her looking for the car keys and making sure she looked through the fridge so as not to forget something to add to her list. When I could wait no longer, I peeked out of my room and watched just as my mom was opening the front door. All I could see was her back, but she stopped and bent over. Straightening up, she stood there several seconds, and I couldn't see what was going on, but she had picked something up. She turned and I ducked my head back into the room a few seconds.

When I ventured a look, the door was closed and I bounded down the hall and into the living room where I looked out the big glass window. My mom, box in hand, was walking casually to the end of the driveway where she opened our large, green garbage can and carefully set the box inside. In that moment, my stomach felt weird and I sunk to the floor next to the couch. How could she do that? I was horrified; paralyzed. One cannot be so heartless to such an adorable kitten! A human maybe, but a kitten!

I don't know why, but I couldn't go and save that kitten. I was too afraid to find it there. Maybe the kitten had somehow escaped and my mom had just found an empty box on the porch, and threw it out. But if I looked in that can, and there was a kitten in there, I don't know how I would have taken that. So I will never know. I never asked her and she never mentioned anything about the box or the kitten. I laid huddled on the floor as I listened to the engine of car come to live, and vroom down the street, fading into silence.

I've always felt responsible for that kitten. Why did I want one so bad? I tried not to think of the garbage truck coming early the next morning, ignorantly dumping that kitten into the back, next to rotting potato peels and empty orange juice cartons. On its way to wherever it goes. Someplace terrible, dark, with big machines that crush everything to smithereens. I'm sorry!