Onward and Awkward
by With Don Dudding
So it’s four o’clock in the morning; I would rather be sleeping, but I’m wide awake because I’m pondering one of the most profound mysteries of the universe: Where in the heck am I supposed to put the cat food bag? Now if that doesn’t strike you as a profound mystery, it’s either because you are way more intelligent than I am when it comes to knowing where to put a cat food bag or because your brain would rather sleep at night than ponder the existential ramifications of deciding where to keep the cat food bag. Allow me to explain.
Later today, I’m going to feel as though my psychic gas tank is running on fumes because I didn’t get enough sleep, and I’m going to rely upon a hefty dose of caffeine to get me through the afternoon. That particular hot tub sized, diet soda will most likely cradle the germination of my next kidney stone, but when the fatigue hits, my need to knuckle through the afternoon’s weariness will out-prioritize my need to avoid another calcium invader to my ureter. By this point, I will have forgotten why it was so important to waste precious hours in Slumberland calculating where I should keep the cat food bag. However, just before getting back into bed tonight, there it will be, the cat food bag, sitting on top of a bedroom dresser where of all the places it might belong, it most certainly does not.
Why is the cat food bag, at least for now, on top of a dresser where we can both agree it doesn’t belong? Because it has to sit somewhere, doesn’t it? When I went to bed, the cat food bag was next to the back door which – as it turns out – was close enough for me to hear it rattle once a mouse had decided he liked cat food well enough to explore the murine pleasures of its interior realm. What’s wrong with that stupid mouse? The bag says “Cat Food.” Does it want a meal or does it want to become one with the universe? I don’t know, but it has taken me twenty minutes to catch the little rodent in a nearly empty peanut butter jar (peanut butter jars are never entirely empty, by the way); tomorrow, I will release Mickey’s cousin into the wilds a few miles from home, because I’m afraid if I kill it, it’ll haunt my sleep and give me nightmares. For the rest of the night, the cat food bag is on the dresser where I hope it is out of reach of all but the most ambitious of the little mouse’s circle of friends.
Okay, so this is where the dilemma of relocating the cat food bag enters into the region of madness worthy of a Poe character. Why do I have a bag of cat food in the first place? Obviously – to feed a cat. Why own a cat? I once foolishly believed it was to catch mice, but now I know it’s to provide jobs to people who manufacture cat food. So why not put the cat food bag on the back porch with the cat and let it deal with the mouse? Because this cat has decided he is too old to catch mice, and on the long, long list of things to which my cat has grown entirely indifferent, catching mice comes in at Number One. No, really, I have caught mice in traps and placed them still wriggling in front of this cat only to have the sulky grimalkin look at me with the same bored contempt a high priestess might bestow on a bad sacrifice. “Eat the mouse,” I would tell it. Silently, using the powerfully telepathy reserved exclusively for aging felines, my cat would look at me and say, “If it’s so tasty, why don’t you eat it? Be gone with your stinky rodent.” That my primary reason for allowing the cat to live on my back porch in the first place was to help control the mice population is Number Two on the list of things of which this cat is utterly indifferent.
Let me back up, once upon a time, a few years ago, I did try to keep the cat food on the back porch, but its magical allure enchanted ne’er-do-well raccoons who deemed the interior of the cat food bag their own private Xanadu. Raccoons can decimate a cat food bag with the gleeful zealotry of a pagan necromancer getting at sheep entrails. The last time I had raccoons visiting my back porch, I had to fill a super-soaker squirt gun with Louisiana hot sauce and shoot one of them in the face with it in order to persuade them not to come back. “It burns! It burns!” cried a raccoon. “You smell like dipping sauce,” exclaimed a companion who suddenly felt powerful, mixed emotions about his desire to cannibalize his compadre.
Okay, so when the raccoons first destroyed a bag of cat food, I shelled out for a heavy plastic bin with a lid to keep them out of it. When the raccoons figured out how to pry open the lid to get at their precious cat food ambrosia, I put a concrete block on top of the bin. That still didn’t stop them; they brought in a crew to drag the entire bin well out into the yard and destroy it with the determination of the A-Team. So I moved the cat food inside and prepared for a home invasion. Fortunately, the hot sauce worked well enough to send them looking for easier targets down the road, and they never came back.
Now, I could put the cat food in the laundry room, but that would mean it would be out of my typical line of sight, and every time I left the house in the morning, I would encounter an aged disgruntled feline who would use its remaining life-force to loudly remind me that I had forgotten to feed it. I know myself too well: I would take the time to feed the cat, and then I would be disgruntled about being perpetually five minutes late. If I can see the cat food, it’s on my list of things to do before leaving the house; if I can’t see the can’t food, I’m going to be five minutes late after unlocking the door to go back in the house to retrieve the kibble. I wish I could say which I dislike more – being five minutes late or letting an old cat grow hungry. Don’t even get me started on how I feel when the cat impulsively decides it’s grown phlegmatic about the brand of cat food I’m buying, and it decides to try to wait me out to see if I’ll switch up the flavor with a different package.
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