Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rex Gives Me a Heart Attack

The alarm clock on my phone irritated me awake.

"Graarrrrrr!" I bellowed, grabbing the offending device and changing the alarm to wake me up in half an hour. Ever since I found out my store was closing and I would soon be out of a job I had lost a lot of interest in leaving for work an hour early to make sure I was on time. I threw the covers back over my head and whined to myself. I buried my cheek as far into my pillow as I could and waited.

And waited.

But what was I waiting for?

"Rex!" I realized, popping my head up. He normally came running at the sound of my alarm clock. Where was the tell-tale jingle of his bell? Where was his familiar demand for breakfast and a snuggle? In fact, where had been his demands for dinner the night before? I jumped out of bed.

"Rex?" I called, softly.

There was no answer.


I filled up his food dish, empty since his breakfast the day before, and cleaned out his litter box. Still no hungry cat. I went into the kitchen.


Aidan ran to meet me. "I'm here!" he offered, wagging his tail furiously.

"Hi, sweetie," I said absently. "I'm looking for Rex."

"I don't know where that guy is," said Aidan, giddily. "Did you know that I have a toy that squeaks? It also has fur, and a tail. I like to chew on it, and sometimes my Dad throws it!"

I started some water for tea and put my toaster in the bagel. While that was all heating up I went into the bathroom to check out my hair.

"Come get meeeeeeeeeee."

I stopped. Was that Rex? It had been so faint.


"Come get me!"

The sound wasn't coming from inside the house. I ran into the backyard and around the side to where I thought I had heard the sound. No Rex.

I went into my bedroom.

"Come get me! Please!" His voice was so quiet! I couldn't tell if I was imagining it or not. For all I knew, I was making a big deal out of nothing and Rex was hanging out in Big Dave's room. I went back to the kitchen. Big Dave was sitting on the edge of his bed in his bedroom off the kitchen.

"Is my cat in there?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"When did you see him last?" I asked.

"Yesterday," he said.

"Me, too," I said, becoming frantic. I hustled back to my bedroom, where I had last heard his voice. Davey was getting dressed and struggling not to fall onto the bed and fall back asleep.

"What's wrong with you?" he asked.

"I can't find Rex," I said, clasping my hands together in distress.

He began looking around. I wandered through the house, keeping my ear perked for his cries. He was silent. I had to leave for work soon if I was going to skate in on time. I went into my room to get dressed.

"Where are you?" Rex called.

I ran into the hallway. "Davey!" I called through the bathroom door. "Did you hear him, too?"

"Yeah," said Davey.

I ran back outside and around the house. He had to be there. He was underneath something. I knew it. There! A vent to the crawlspace under the house was missing its screen. I knelt down and peered inside. I could only see a foot ahead of me. There was so much trash. Visions of broken glass and hypodermic needles danced through my head. How was I going to get under there to retrieve my cat if he was hurt? What could I sell to pay to vet bills to get him sewn back together or set his bones? My poor little boy! I struggled to see him in the pitch black space under the house, but to no avail.

"Rex!" I called.

"Where are you?" he called back. Two glowing disks rotated into view, fixing their beams on my face.

"Mom!" Rex rejoiced.

The twin beacons bounced towards me. I could feel the stiffness fall out of my back. Rex stopped beneath the vent, where I could see him. "I'm so glad you found me!"

He jumped up and squeezed through the space. I picked him up and squeezed him to me.

"It was cold out there, and I was hungry!" he said woefully. It was clear I would never understand the torture he had just endured. I carried him back to the house, surprised that he wasn't taking his usual tack and trying to slip out of my arms so he could run halfway across the lawn to the tree before getting scared and freezing. I guess it had been a longer night for him than I had realized.

"Hi, Rex!" said Aidan when I brought the cat inside.

"I didn't have any breakfast or dinner, Aidan!" Rex announced.

"Oh, wow. I really love breakfast. I would hate to miss it,"the pug commiserated. "Hey, can I smell your butt?"

"No," said Rex, scrambling to be let down once I had shut the door. He rushed to the bathroom, where his food was waiting.

"I'm still going to smell it," yelled Aidan, following him. "Mom wants me to be friendly, so you have to just deal with it!"

"She's not your Mom," Rex said dismissively, scarfing down his food.

"You're not the expert on anything," Aidan said flippantly.

"Mom, hold me," Rex begged. "My night was so scary!"

I picked him up and rubbed his back.

"You could have come to the door to be let in," I said.

"What if someone saw me out there all by myself and hit me with a rock or chased me?" Rex demanded, indignantly. It was clear he liked the idea of being outside better than the reality. "I was hiding from the bad guys."

"Mmmm. Mexicans," said a certain racist empathetically. "I bark at them."

"You're both ridiculous," I said, putting Rex down and grabbing my purse. "I'll see you little nuts later."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rex And Aidan Decide I Am Their Mom

"I'm not his freaking Mom," I protested furiously, holding kitten Rex in my lap. He had been wandering around the house crying for me because he didn't know where I was. When he finally found me and jumped into my lap my mother had gushed, "Oh, how cute. He wanted to sit with his Mom."

"I hate when people call their pets their kids," I grumbled. "I'm no one's Mom, human or animal."

Five years of pet ownership later and I'm singing a different tune. It's not so much that I like the idea of being someone's Mom; it's that Rex and Aidan seem to.

For instance:

I couldn't get comfortable. I was trying to lay in bed with Davey and watch the X-Files but Aidan had, once again, laid himself out right in between us with his head on my pillow in such a way that I couldn't see the screen or position myself so that I could see it. This is a nightly event.

"Aidan!" I complained, like I do every night, trying to jostle him so he would move and failing utterly. I plopped back onto my pillow. "Whatever."

"Aidan," said Davey affectionately, picking him up and putting him on the other side of his body. "Come on, buddy. Leave her alone."

Aidan snorted wildly. "I want to sleep next to my Mom!" he complained.

"Aidan, buddy, lie down," Davey said, putting his arm around Aidan to entice him to sleep there. Aidan wanted none of it. He wiggled from Davey's hold and trundled over both of our stomachs on a beeline course towards me. He settled himself safely on my far side, where Davey couldn't reach him. "I always sleep next to my Mom," he explained with a phlegmy grunt. Within moments he was snoring, dreaming dreams of victories won and sausage buns devoured. I could move around with him on that side, so I usually let him stay.


"Mom. Mom."

My eyes popped open blearily at the touch of a paw on my chin. Rex was hovering over me, about to poke me gently on the face again if I didn't move. "What is it?" I asked, groggily, even though I already knew what he was after. He'd been doing this at least once a week since we moved in.

Rex snuck a glance at Aidan, who had made his way back to the middle of the bed during the course of the night and was now spooning me to the best of his ability. He was still asleep. Rex nodded, reassured, and looked back at me. "I want to get under there with you." He nudged the covers next to me, so I would know what he meant, but I was already one step ahead of him. I had lifted the blankets up over my chest to make a tunnel for him right after he woke me up.  He crawled in, curling up against my stomach. "I like it here with you," he purred. "I like it when that stupid dog is asleep and it's just you and me again, like before." I petted him for a few minutes, happy to have him there with me, and started to fall back asleep. Rex stood up, waking me again. I groaned a little as he crawled back out into the open air. All I ever want is to be able to sleep through the whole night without anyone waking me up. "That was nice." He paused a moment before hopping off the bed. "Hey, Mom, maybe I'll come back in a couple hours and say 'Hi' again, okay? I'll wake you up." He looked at me angelically.

"Okay," I said, blearily, burrowing into the covers as he slunk off.


Rex climbed off of my lap and went to go check out what was in the kitchen. Halfway down the hallway I heard his bell stop jingling. I paused what I was doing and waited for it.

"Mom! Are you still home?" he shouted.

"I'm still in here!" I called back, rubbing my forehead.

"In the room?"

"I'm in the room!"


I heard the jingling resume as, reassured, he went off to poke around the cupboards. I waited another few seconds to make sure he wasn't going to shout for me again, but he remained silent. I went back to my game of freecell.

Later, when I got up to get a glass of water, I found Rex lazing comfortably in the middle of the kitchen floor. He jumped up when he saw me. I smiled at him, but said nothing.

"Mom!" he said. "I'm right here."

"Hey, Rex," I said, waving and stepping over him to get to the sink.


"What?" I asked, my attention on the sink and my cup of water.

"Look at me, Mom. Mom, look at me. I'm right here."

I looked at him. "I already saw you, Rex." I had seen him the other three times that evening that he decided I had suddenly been struck blind to his presence.

"Mom, sit down and pet me," he commanded.

I sighed. "Rex, I-"

"Mommmmmmmmmmmmmm," he persisted. "Pet meeeeeeeeeeee."

I sighed again, louder this time, and complied. I knew from experience that there was no other way for me to win.


I turned the key in the lock, slumped over wearily from a long day at work. I was exhausted from people's constant demands and I just wanted to sit down and do what I wanted to for an hour. Before I had even opened the door I heard Aidan whining plaintively. "Mommmmmmmmmmm. You're taking too long to open the door. Mommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm."

I hung my head and pushed the door open. It was useless to hope that today's return home would be any different than every other day's. Aidan was right where I thought he would be, nose pressed against the door jam so that the first thing that touched me when I walked in would be his very own breath. I squeezed past him as his body tensed up like a spring. I closed the door. I was home.

"Oh my God! Mom!" Aidan rejoiced, whipping around me and leaping up to lean against my legs. "You're home! You're home! You were gone forever but then you came back!"

Rex peeked his head around the corner and watched Aidan's antics. "Hi, Mom," he said. He used to come running when he heard my footsteps approaching the door but at this house he was wary of the dog and his uncontrollable gyrations.

"Hi, Rex," I said wearily, going into the living room. Both of them were right on my heels. I dropped my purse on a chair and flopped down on the couch. Aidan jumped up next to me and stared earnestly into my face. Rex sat primly at my feet, waiting to see if Aidan was going to make a move. If I were in a better mood I would pet both of them simultaneously and congratulate them for being so civil to each other, but I was worn out from another soul-crushing day at the store. I would have been happy if they would both go away and let me sit, but there was no chance of that. They had been waiting all day for my lap to arrive and become horizontal. Aidan hesitated and looked at Rex. Even if he didn't like it, he now knew that Rex was an important factor in the family dynamics.

"I want to sit on Mom's lap," he informed my cat.

Rex gazed at him severely. "You mean you want to sit on my Mom's lap. You don't have a Mom."

Aidan was undaunted. "She's married to my Dad, so that makes her my Mom."

Rex flicked his tail. "No, that makes her still my Mom. I'm the one who's lived with her her whole life."

"Well," Aidan shot back, his ears drooping, "you don't have a Dad then."

"I don't need one," said Rex, getting up and walking sedately into my father-in-law's bedroom. "I have a Mom."

Aidan put his head down sadly on my leg. "I still think you're my Mom, okay?"

"Whatever you want," I grumbled, feeling spread even thinner than I had when I got off of work. It's hard work keeping two pets feeling like they're getting a sufficient amount of attention compared to the other. I have considered the alternative, of just giving up, but pet drama is so stupid to watch that it almost melts my brain.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Aidan Embarrasses Me At P.E.T.C.O.

Aidan had been lying around the house all day looking depressed and sleeping, so I decided to take him to Jiffy Lube with me, where I was going to go spend the rest of my paycheck on an oil change. I was quite cross about it, but it had to be done. I figured that depending on the wait, I could drop the car off, walk Aidan back to the house, and then come back for the car when it was ready.

In a lucky turn of events, the only other car at Jiffy Lube was just driving off as Aidan and I pulled up. Aidan had gotten himself onto my lap and was standing with his paws on the door and his head out the window, grinning ecstatically. The guy who came to get my car smiled at him.

"Hello!" greeted Aidan. "I am on a car ride right now, but I think maybe it might be over."

"Oil change?" asked the guy.

"Yes, please," I said.

"But," continued Aidan, thoughtfully, "I'm still in the car, so I'm not sure. I might still be on a car ride."

"Just leave the car on and come inside when you're ready and we'll get you started," said the Jiffy Lube guy, heading indoors.

"Car ride's over," I said to Aidan, cracking the door so he'd lose balance and sit down so I could open the door the rest of the way. He plopped down clumsily. "I thought it might be." I opened the door and he tumbled out, ready for the next part of his trip to begin.

It turned out that it was only a 20 minute wait since I had beat the evening rush, so Aidan and I set off to walk around the area instead of bothering to go home.

"Let's go on the sidewalk," I said.

"I like the way this parking lot smells," Aidan insisted, snuffling at the ground. "There's something familiar about it."

I waited for him to realize what it was. He looked up at me. "P.E.T.C.O.!" He looked around until he spotted the store, right in front of him. "Oh, boy!"

"Let's not go in there," I said. "I don't have any money."

"I don't care! I just want to look," said Aidan, trying to make a beeline for the store, but stopped by my grip on his leash.

"Aidan-" I began.

"It's P.E.T.C.O." said Aidan, "the store for pets!"

I sighed.

"I'm a pet! So it's a store for me!" He wagged his tail.

"Fine," I groaned. "Lead the way."

Aidan scurried through the automatic doors, snorting with excitement. He paused for a moment in the entry, taking in all the splendor before him.

"Come on!" he commanded, snuffling his way down the aisles. He was completely engrossed by everything the store had to offer.

"There's turtles here," he announced, sniffing near the turtle tank. "Wow!"

"Yeah, wow," I agreed, half-heartedly. He tugged me towards some bags of wood shavings.

"These are for rat cages," said Aidan knowledgeably. "I really love this store."

"Uh huh." I pulled out my phone to text Davey about what a nerd Aidan was being about P.E.T.C.O.

"Oh, what's over here?" wondered Aidan, leading me past an employee.

"Can I help you find anything?" the young man asked.

"No thanks. He just wanted to come in here," I grimaced at the pug, who was going on about how great the selection at P.E.T.C.O. is and dragging me toward some dog food. It was making it very difficult for me to type into my phone. I was relieved when Aidan paused to inspect some bags of wet snacks on a display shelf. I hurried to compose my message before Aidan dragged me to look at dog vests or something.

"I mean, I really love this store," said Aidan.

"Uh huh," I said absently, finishing up my text.

"It's probably my favorite," said Aidan decisively. "I think everyone should know that."

"That's cool," I said, looking up just in time to see Aidan with his little sausage body poised over the nearly empty shelf of treats, leg raised in the air. "Aidan, no!" I gasped, yanking him away, hoping I had acted in time. I had not. Aidan's liquid seal of approval was puddled on the shelf and dripping onto the tiled floor. I could tell by the gaping smile on his face that he was incredibly pleased with himself.

"I gave it a five star review, because that's what this store deserves," he told me.

"You didn't give it five star anything," I grumbled. "You just peed all over it."

"It was my best pee," insisted Aidan.

It was my turn to drag Aidan as I went back to find the kid and let him know what Aidan had done. "It happens all the time," he assured me, pulling out a spray bottle of cleaner and deftly removing all visible evidence of Aidan's transgression as the culprit himself buried his nose in the young man's butt.

"We're leaving," I said, frowning at Aidan. He beamed at me.

"It doesn't even matter that he wiped it up," Aidan whispered. "I can still smell my five star review."

He wagged his tail as I led him out of the store.