Saturday, February 18, 2006

Dry Cleaning Might Have Been A Better Option

Y'all may have noticed some remarks from Bubba in the comments. Those of you who know him were no doubt shocked and amazed that he actually 1) turned on the computer 2) took the time to click on a link to this page and 3) commented after reading a post. Technology, as they say, just ain't his thing, so I am very proud of his recent bloggy progress.

Bubba and I have been friends for almost twenty years, as hard as that is to believe - and we have laughed at just about every step along the way. Now that he's a Terribly Successful Businessman and travels to all sorts of far-flung places, we don't get to talk as much, but I know deep in my soul that if I called him tomorrow and said, "I need you here RIGHT NOW," he would drop everything, find a flight, rent a car, and I was about to say "take a bus," but then I giggled at the mental image, for he would never, ever Go Greyhound, and that's part of the reason our friendship has lasted for this long, so let's just say that he would secure clean, comfortable transportation and do whatever he could to help ANYONE in my family, and that extends to my husband, my child, my parents, my siblings and their spouses. He loves us, and we love him.

Anyway, Bubba reminded me today of a funny from our college days.

Our sophomore year Bubba shared an apartment with three other guys: Brian, Bryan, and John. They were a funny mix, those four: Brian was the serious architecture student, Bryan was the date king, John was the dry-witted country boy, and Bubba was the preppy frat boy. Sounds like a sitcom, right? And seriously, now that I look back on that time with a parent's perspective, I am grateful for how nice they all were. They were polite, respectful, funny - just great guys all the way around - and Bubba and Bryan especially were really protective of me. My daddy should be grateful.

Anyway, one spring afternoon I dropped in for a visit. At the time Bubba and I loved to ride around the backroads of Oktibbeha County, where we would philosophize and laugh but mostly sing. OH we have performed many-a-musical in each other's company, but our favorite at the time was Phantom of the Opera. I can't sing but Bubba can, so he really had to carry the whole show because, well, my singing voice doesn't do much of anything except summon neighborhood canines OR give some added depth to the tenor section of a choir (I was actually named Most Improved Tenor in my high school choir - I didn't know whether to be proud or insulted).

When I got to Bubba's apartment that afternoon, Brian was in a bit of a panic because he couldn't find his kitten. I can't remember how old the kitten was, but I know she was fairly young because everyone was just calling her "Kitty" until Brian came up with a suitable name. Even though I wasn't what you would call a cat lover, I felt sorry for Brian, and since Bubba wasn't home yet, our road company Phantom show was going to be delayed, anyway, so I had plenty of time for a little sideline animal rescue work.

Bryan with a "y" and I looked through all the bedrooms, in piles of clothes, in the bathrooms, even outside. After about 10 minutes of searching, there were no leads. We decided that Kitty would return, in typical feline fashion, when she decided it was time, and just as we were about to give up, Bryan and I heard something. At the same time. And we looked at each other, bug-eyed, like "NO. NO WAY it's that. NO WAY that Kitty is THERE."

By this time Brian with an "i" was in the room with us, and somehow he picked up on our telepathy, because suddenly he got the same idea that we had, and we all became very aware of The Noise, and we were very certain, at the very same time, of Kitty's whereabouts.

We moved quickly to rescue her, for time was of the essence.

I don't know if any of y'all have ever seen a kitten that has accidentally found its way into an electric clothes dryer, but the expression "wall-eyed" comes to mind. As soon as Brian got the door open and found Kitty in the midst of the spinning towels, he looked to make sure she was alive, and thankfully she was. But OH was she disoriented. She was also very warm, and she smelled of Bounce.

We decided that a trip to the vet was in order, as Kitty was breathing but not terribly responsive. Since Brian was beside himself with guilt and worry, and since for some reason Bryan was without a vehicle, my car was the logical (read: only) choice for transport.

At the time I was driving a 1984 Buick Regal, a fine piece of American-made machinery that was only slightly more reliable than a Yugo. In fact, I believe there were some reliability studies where the Yugo might have ranked slightly higher. In this particular season of the Regal's life, it was wary of the entire deceleration process, and as soon as I took my foot off the accelerator the car would begin to sputter and lurch. Driving with two feet was essential if I was to make it from any given point A to any given point B.

As I drove Brian, his punch-drunk kitten, and Bryan away from the apartment, I became very conscious of the fact that my car and Kitty were on fairly equal footing in terms of making it to the vet, in that neither stood a very good chance at all. Kitty was wrapped in a towel, trying to meow but only managing something like "me" and then sort of a pre-vomit stomach gurgling, and the car, well, it was gurgling, too. As long as I had the accelerator completely mashed to the floor - which I believe is the method that law-enforcement officials encourage for in-town driving - we were fine. But if I let up on that accelerator even a centimeter, we started to jerk and lunge. It's like the car was caught in some form of violent spitting seizure, and the kitten, well, she wasn't much better.

Finally I figured out that if I mashed the brake with my left foot but kept the accelerator completely depressed with my right, the car would slow down enough to "stop" but wouldn't break down altogether. The unreliability of my vehicle seemed to add to Brian's stress, because everytime the car would lurch he would eyeball me with a look of borderline disgust and murmur, "OH, Kitty - I hope we make it," but there was nothing I could do, as everyone in my immediate family has paid the price time and time again for my father's blind loyalty to the American car industry. Bryan, meanwhile, was in the back seat, trying to be supportive, but every so often I'd catch a glimpse of him in the rear-view mirror, and I'm fairly certain that he was chewing the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. I mean, sick animal or no, the whole scene was pretty funny.

After what seemed like four hours but was probably more like four minutes, we got to the vet. Brian rushed the kitten to the back, where she was immediately iced down and put on fluids. Fortunately, she seemed okay, and since Brian wanted to stay with Kitty, he gave Bryan and me the okay to leave. We returned to the apartment and waited on Bubba, now at home, who very literally rolled on the floor and cried from laughter. Kitty, in the end, was no worse for the (wash and) wear, which is probably one of the worst puns I've ever made in my life. Bubba and I were able to ride around and sing after all.

As it turns out, Brian now lives here in Birmingham, and while I haven't seen him, I've met a lot of people who are either members of his church or part of his extended family. When his name comes up in conversation, I always mention that we knew each other in college. A couple of our mutual friends have mentioned me to him, and in both cases, he has said the same thing: "I don't remember her."

WHAT? HE DOESN'T REMEMBER ME? I helped him pull a cat from a clothes dryer! I drove him and said cat to the vet! In a car that would barely run! And when it did run it sputtered! And he doesn't remember me?

It must have been such a traumatic turn of events, what with his cat nearly spinning to death, that he's blocked all of it out. Including me.


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