Aidan and I arrived back home feeling pretty tired after our shopping trip. Aidan wandered into the house, panting and grunting as I shut the door behind us. Aidan had a nice new sweatshirt that would turn out to be the only item of clothing in his figurative closet that he didn't like wearing. I had gotten Rex something, too. I unloaded his presents from the bag. I put the scratching post next to the furniture he liked to dig his claws into and then excitedly pulled out the piece de resistance. Catnip bubbles. Even though my cat had been icily presenting his shoulder to me, I had a good feeling about the bubbles being a way to get him to play with me again. Rex has turned his nose up at catnip in the past, but one of the many men living in my house told me he had been going nuts for it the other day and I thought maybe I had been wrong about his disinterest in doing feline drugs, so when I saw the bubbles with their promises of human-cat bonding printed right on the label along with the low low price of $3.99, I knew I had to try them with Rex.
I don't know what I thought the outcome was going to be, but I expected it might be something like Rex having a fantastic time popping the bubbles while I laughed indulgently at his antics. Somehow, our fun game would make Rex decide that he was no longer distrustful of the dog, and they would become best friends because they actually have a lot in common. Then, Rex would actually spend time with me and sleep on my bed. He'd spent the past couple of weeks slowly and pointedly replacing me with my father-in-law.
"I'm his new best friend!" my father-in-law liked to announce as I stared morosely at my cruel pet, who was busy pretending not to see me. I had tried and failed to shrug off the fear that Rex really had replaced me with some man he barely knew. If I didn't do something I was never going to see my cat again. These catnip bubbles were my only hope. I had a feeling like my four dollar gamble was going to work.
My mind full of foolish notions, I went to find the boy. He was curled up, as usual, on my father-in-law's bed and not mine. I peeked through the cracked door. "Hey, Rex," I said ingratiatingly, "Come out here and let me pet you." I was disgusted with how needy I was being.
"He doesn't want to!" said my father-in-law, opening the door and startling me with his prescence. I hadn't known he was home, much less in his room "He wants to hang out in here with me because I'm his best friend."
I looked at Rex, entreating him to get his ass off the bed and come rub against my shin at least. He shrugged dispassionately.
"Rex?" I asked.
My father-in-law threw himself onto the bed next to my cat. "Yeah, you wanna stay in here with me, huh?" he asked, scratching my cat behind the ears.
Rex beamed at Big Dave. "Uh-huh! I like this bed and the no dog and your fluffy white robe best!" He didn't even glance at me to see the damage his dis had wrought upon my fragile emotions. That's how little he cared.
"Oh, okay," I said softly, trying to save face. "Well, I got Rex these catnip bubbles to play with but I guess he doesn't really want to come out and see me, so I'll just leave them here by the dog food so you can play with them with him..."
"Okay," said Big Dave, too immersed in petting my cat to pay much attention to anything else. I turned away, gently placing the bubbles next to Aidan's giant bag of kibble, and then hurrying into my bedroom so I could stare at the ceiling and come to terms with the fact that I was going to always be alone.
"Hi!" Aidan and Davey chorused as I came into the room and perched on the edge of the bed dismally.
"Look at me watching video games!" Aidan burbled from Davey's lap.
"I like you," said Davey kindly, before returning to his important business on DC Online.
I'll always be alone, I moped, willfully ignoring the fact that I was married and had three brothers in addition to parents and in-laws, among other relatives. Seeing that I had started setting out bowls of chips for my pity party, Davey spun his chair away from the game at a good stopping spot and demanded that I know Rex loved me.
"Go try those bubbles," he said, convincingly. I nodded and wandered into the kitchen, fumbling to retrieve the bubble wand from the pungent bubble solution.
"What's that?" asked Rex curiously from the armchair. I sat on the floor.
"Come here, check these out," I said, holding the bubble wand up in front of my face. Rex leaped to the ground and crouched at a safe distance to evaluate the threat level of what I was holding.
"What are those? Smells like drugs," he said.
I carefully blew a bubble.
"Oh shit!" Rex lurched backwards, staring at the bubble with fear. It landed on the carpet and didn't pop. I blew another one. Rex stiffened, trying to keep an eye on the one in the air and the one on the ground simultaneously. "I don't like those guys," he said.
They did look like cheap sci-fi representations of hyper-evolved life forms, but I didn't expect Rex, as a cat, to make that connection. He obviously found something else about them terrifying beyond words. I tried blowing a few more bubbles, hoping that he would realize after six of them were caught quivering in the carpet that they were actually a fun way to spend quality time with humans. He was no less appalled by the spherical monstrosities than he was before. I tried popping a few as an example. He seemed relieved that I was capable of killing them, but not much else. I gave up, capping the bubbles and putting them back next to the dog food.
I tried one other time. Rex seemed interested in the bottle, but as soon as I blew a bubble his eyes bugged out and he sprinted across the kitchen into the safety of my father-in-law's bedroom.
It was this incident that I thought of sitting on the lawn at Davey's work site, watching the mailman and trying to believe Davey when he said that Rex really did want to be my cat.