Friday, December 7, 2012

Pussy Sitting. Tales from the Nanny Poppins Diaries...



A friend in need, is a friend in…DEED.  Or rather, compels a friend do deeds she’d really rather not.  This was the position I happened to face-plant in over the Thanksgiving hols.  And boy, did I face plant in poo.  Kitty poo to be precise.

Monica is one of my very best friends.  When I pulled the keystone block out of life and “JENGAAAA-ed” Self, she was there, helping to scrape up the pieces, feed me wine, drink me hummus (no, really, drink hummus) and she has helped rebuild the strong, happy tower I have today.  When I crashed my car, she is the one who took the call, who picked me up, who hugged me tight. She has mopped up my puke; I have Cloroxed hers.  She has broadened my mind: introducing me to yoga; the Four Agreements; flax seed; recycling; Obama maybe not being as bad as all that; not being afraid to ask for what you want.

She is a truly wonderful, empowered and empowering woman.  But Monica has a problem.  She likes cats.  A lot.  And they like her.  A lot.  (Or as much as pussies can like a human.)  So it’s reciprocated, which is nice.  She is, in fact, like the Pied Piper of Felines; some magical, musical refrain jingles from her door—imperceptible to the human ear—but as loud and clear and alluring to a kitty eardrum as the strains from an ice-cream van on a 95 degree summer day.

Monica has FIVE CATS.  FIVE.  That is four more than one.  Three more than two.  In fact, there has to be a collective noun for it.  If it’s a murder of crows, a pride of lions, a muster of peacocks, a charm of finches, Monica has a “Shitload of cats.”

So, when dear, beloved Monica, decided to join her family over the Thanksgiving break, she was left with a little pussy-sitting problem.  Who, oh who, would she entrust the care and protection of her furbabies to?  Yup, dear Reader, you guessed it.  (She did exhaust all regular avenues first, but being that it was Thanksgiving, and other local cat-lovers had families to cozy in the bosom of, I was it… her last resort.)  “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”

What could I say?  “No thank you very much.  This idea doesn’t appeal at all!  Your furchildren hate me!  They run from me, hide from me, perch places to spy and frighten the b’Jesus out of me!  They plot and conspire against me!  They trail their little toys to the top of the stairs to do away with me!  They’ll probably poo in my shoes!”  But then, she might think me paranoid.  No parent really wants to hear the truth about their children.

So, I agreed.  Sure it was an inconvenience to drive 20 minutes every morning and every evening, but she was my friend and I WOULD DO IT!  I would do it with grace, with a happy face, I would be their cheery, saccharine-singing Nanny Poppins!  What I didn’t realize was a) tasks never take the time instructions say they will; b) her cats REALLY do despise me, c) it’s really annoying to have to leave a date to go and see to your friend’s pussies, and d) 5 cats produce enough fecal material to fertilize China. 

I was sent a list of instructions.  (Monica is nothing if not meticulous about her pussy care.)   The essay was broken down in to bullet points ranging from whose bowl belonged to whom?; the menu and portion size for each individual feline for breakfast and for dinner; and a “play time” regime, in which the kitties needed to be “played with” with feather ticklers and laser beams and what-have-you for “at least 10 minutes each day.”   I felt rather sorry for poor dead Boot, who put up with my childhood mawlings and dinner presented only once a day.  This service at Kitty Manor was surely, the Pussy Ritz, the whole five star spa and wellness with an organic sprig of daily love.

 I was under-trained, and over-committed for this.  Pass the vodka.  And a straw.

My first day of Pussy Sitting was right, slap-bang on Thanksgiving Day.  I was happily enjoying the company of friends, halting on libations, aware of my imminent duty, and that is when the first text came.
“Have you fed the kitties yet?"  My heart slumped.  It was already 7 and I had missed their first feeding window.  (My instructions were to try and serve dins between 5-7.)  Oh God!  Bad Nanny!  How could I mistime my first pussy task?  Ugh!  And now she's checking up on me!  She probably has a Nanny Cam and has seen, from her cabin in the mountains, that I am yet to breach the threshold.  Shit!  Shit!  Lemon shit!

“It’s okay!  I’ve got this.”  I texted as I waved to my hosts and squealed out of the drive.  Ain’t no mountain high enough… ain’t no river wide enough…  As I drove at the speed of light I thought of the new parents who go out on a date and spend the entire duration on the cell to the babysitter:
“Is baby okay?  Is she still breathing?  Put the receiver to her head so I can hear.  And what colour is her poo?  And it's consistency?”  Reassurance, reassurance.  I would text or email her photographs of her delightful  little fluffies, then she'd be content.

There they were, five sets of eyes, shining in the dark and bolting for cover as soon as I flicked the switch.  The two newest additions to the “shitload”, fostered from Indraloka Animal Sanctuary in Mehoopany, Luna and Leo, were the first to give in to my charms.  I greeted them hello with apologies for my lateness.  I had quite the one-sided conversation.  Luna, fluffy and moon faced, just stared at me quizzically as I collected their licked-clean breakfast dishes, and started to fill their dinner bowls, carefully following the instructions, precisely left for me on the counter top. 

I was talking to myself at the time.  Rehearsing, if you can call it that, for a Story Slam I was partaking in the very next day.  As I chatted to the reflection of Self in the stove back-splash, doling out the revoltingly stinking organic cat food, three of the other felines, slowly slinked into the kitchen.  Ears cocked, nostrils flared, limbs primed, eyes saucered.  Only Lulu sulked elsewhere, determined to out wait me. 


The orange tabby, Padme to Monica, Pad Thai to me, stared at me in the back splash. 
“So,” her eyes said, as she leaned back in Monica’s kitchen chair and took a drag of her cigarette, “it’s Nanny Fucking Poppins!”  She blew out a long stream of smoke.  “I suppose you think you rule the roost here, but listen to me, British Bitch, you’ve been away for a while and things have changed around here.  I rule this joint now, ya hear?”  She flashed her claws, heaved her drooping cleavage and stubbed out her cigarette.  “Now, what’s a broad gotta do to get a square meal around here?”
I served her last just for spite.  She viewed me with contempt and as I lay her dish down and I told her in no uncertain terms:
“I will not be eye-spoken to like that, Pad Thai.  I’m here for a while so you better get used to it, or I will tell your mother.”  She looked up from her dish, paused her languid eating, that moist cat food squelch making my skin prick, and I swear a small, smug smile crossed her lips.
Why did I feel like she had won?  Why did I feel like I would return in the morning to find something… nasty?

Of course I did.  And although, I cannot assuredly identify the perpetrator, I am pretty sure it was her.  There it was, beneath where the tabby curled in her ball of orange fur, a splatter of puke.  Hmmm.  I tried to remember my Nanny persona, I really did, but Mary Poppins only had to tidy up a play room, she did not have to scrub carpets clean of kitty spew.   Also, it’s not a bloody jolly holiday with Kitties, because you have to sieve the litter for clumps of poo, EVERYDAY.   No, this is not supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

This was surely my least favorite kitty task.  I felt like I was panning for gold, only asphyxiating myself at the same time.  I’m not into kinky no-breathing games.  I like breathing, very much, but breathing and sieving cat shit is mutually exclusive.  As I panned one of the six litter trays, the elusive Ms. Lulu—the white and grey who appeared in Monica’s kitchen one day and never left—emerged from under the bed.  She’s a spoiled little madam is Lulu and the previous night she had stubbornly demanded room service.
“Go away!”  She whispered to me.
“Look Princess!  I am panning your shit!”  I replied—so demeaning!—“I could leave, but really, do you want to have a poo tsunami here?  No.  I think not.”
“But you scare me, with your clicky clacky heels and your high-pitched voice.  Can’t you just be quiet and invisible?” 
The kittens, bounced up the stairs again interrupting our telepathic tete a tete.
“What’s happening?  What’s happening?  What are you doing with our poop?!  Let’s PLAYYYYY!”
“NO.  Ugh!  Do you kids not understand?  Eleanor is VERY busy and important and she doesn’t have time for your shit today.”  I shook the sieve and dumped the last of the poo into my slop bucket.  “Okay, patently, she is making time for your shit today, but she has no more!  None!”  I think that when, in frustration, I actually touched poo with my gesticulating hand.  Ew.

“But… oh… but…  Mommy said you’d play with us.”  Luna eye-implored.
“Yeah.  Mommy said you were nice.  You were just a bit eccentric, but that’s because you’re British.  Maybe Toby was right.  You are just a meanie.”  Leo chimed in.
“I am not a meanie.” I replied, waving my poo-scooper in the air.  “Oh, o-fucking-kay.  Which feather toy should I pick?”
“OOOOOh!  Yay!  The blue one!  The blue one!  Please Nanny Poppins, please!”
I sighed.  I heaved my non-maternal bosom. I dumped the shit, and I played unenthusiastically whipping the feathers for exactly ten minutes.
During this time the two eldest reappeared from their stalking perches.  It was Pad Thai, chain smoking again, this time in a stand-off with the hereto anti-social Toby.  They could not stand further apart and still be in the same room.  It was like a wild west saloon shoot out.  Pad Thai was packing her claws; Toby was armed with his giant green eye daggers.  They hissed, arched their backs, and exchanged expletives.
“Interloper!”  Toby jeered.
“Fat bastard!” Pad retorted.
“No ear…”
“Now, children.  Come on!”  I interrupted, “Pad Thai, speak nicely to your adopted brother.  Toby, just… close your eyes, for God Sake.  It’s like living with frigging Feline Medusa.”
“It’s not Pad Thai.”  She blew a smoke ring in my general direction.  “It’s Bet.  Bet Miggins.  And I run this bar and all the Pussies in it.”  It was true, I had drunk a lot in Monica’s living room, why not be a Saloon of cat iniquity?  “Toby is an ‘it’, he’s got no balls, no junk in his Tom Cat trunk!  He can’t handle me changing things up here.  Look at the little Princess up there, forever in hiding and spoilt in her room!  She won't come down for you, Poppins.  And these kittens, they wouldn’t know a feather from an ostrich.  Dumb balls of fluff.  I’ve lived.  I could tell you a thing or two.  I have the power here.  Mwahahahahaha!”

I flicked the feather more out of habit than as a diversionary tactic.  But it caught her eyes and she broke her focus, suddenly bewitched by the object in my hand.  Immediately she pounced, bounded, rolled and frolicked.  This was not at all the evil Pussy House Madam I had imagined.  She was suddenly not old and conniving, but lithe and a-living.  Leo and Luna joined in the tussle, Toby watched transfixed, Lulu hid.
But three, thought I, three don’t hate me.  That’s progress!
“Thank you, Nanny Poppins.”  Luna purred.
“Yes, thank you, Nanny Poppins.”  Chorused her brother.
“Yeah,” came the smokers rasp, “You’re okay, Poppins.  You can come again.  I may not even spew in your shoe if you treat me right.”  And she brushed her fur up against my calf, weaving between my heels to get closer to me.

And so it was… you can’t make people or cats like you.  You just have to follow the rules, do your thing, break the rules, and hope that creatures like you just as you are.  Or at least when armed with feathers.


2 comments:

  1. What an enjoyable tale. Will you Nanny sit the cats again? My favorite one is Pad Thai. I hope there will be more tales of Nanny Poppins.

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