Monthly Archives: September 2015

Close Encounters of the Furred Kind

   black and white

    Yesterday while reclining in a chair on the front porch in the moon-lit dark with my favorite alley cat (whom I call) Percy, I noticed his ears go up and then looked in the direction he was staring. It isn’t uncommon for one of the half dozen stray kitties in the neighborhood to stop by unannounced, thinking they can get a few kibbles from the supply I leave for Percy on the glass table. If the porch light is on they clearly see me, and hang out on the edge of darkness to outwait me (cats are the very pajamas of patience). In the darkness, however – depending on how still I am – a couple of them have even jumped in my lap thinking I was the chair. It doesn’t sit well with any of the strays finding themselves on my lap (except Percy, who rubs and drools all over me), and they immediately exit stage left, even. But it wasn’t Percy’s barbarian brethren that put him on alert. It was a skunk.
    It took me about three seconds longer than Percy to spot it, and by then it was waddling past the front door right toward us. I replaced the immediate urge to run with the primeval instinct to become a statue. Percy slid out of my lap and climbed to the far end of the table, as quiet as a look. Smart cat. The skunk tottered right under my chair as calm as can be, then turned and shuffled right between my feet. I was petrified, literally. But at the same time I was fascinated and in awe. From his tiny nose to the tip of his fuzzy tail he was about a meter long, with a pronounced white streak down the back of his jet black fur. I so wanted to just reach down and find out if his luscious coat was as silky as it looked, but had I done so, I’m sure I would be taking a tomato bath right about now.
    Pepe (there, I’ve named him, but that doesn’t make him family) either didn’t know I was there even with streams of sweat cascading off me, or he had so much confidence that he wasn’t afraid of anything on the planet except a moving car. He went right up to the large plastic recycling bin full of all our glass, plastic and metal, and sniffed on and around every square inch at least three times. My eyes were glued on him and I started praying (silently) that he wouldn’t notice me. Having seen something promising in the bin, Pepe stretched his stubby clawed arms to the top of the bin, but they were far too weak to pull his long-bodied bulk up. He tried though, and it looked like he was doing mini pull ups or standing crunches. I remember thinking “O my God there’s a real-life skunk rooting around right next to my foot! This can go sooo bad!” All my other thoughts were just terrified ramblings. I felt absolutely helpless. Any second Pepe could have seen me from a different angle in the moonlight and introduced me to his sticky stink. That experience is so far off my bucket list it has it’s own zip code.
    It seemed about half an hour by the time Pepe realized there was nothing around to scavenge and finally faded back into the deep darkness. I didn’t move an atom while he rummaged about; you could have beaned me with a crowbar right then and I still wouldn’t have budged for fear of startling him. It took another ten minutes for me to gather my wits about me and slink inside, trembling and wide-eyed. As I passed Percy his eyes told me “welcome to the club.” Gee, thanks.
I don’t care if Percy complains or not. I’ve installed fifteen 200 watt Full Spectrum flood lights on the front porch (on 24/7) and keep a two year supply of replacement lights in the pantry. At night our porch can be seen by satellites. I’ve turned the front porch into a discotheque complete with spinning mirror globes and musical dance tiles, and play Electronica music at 195 decibels. Yep. Satellites can hear me, too, on a quiet night. The Helen Keller of skunks would run away by the seismic activity alone.
I hope Pepe finds what he’s looking for, far, far away.
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Getting the Last Word

last words

I’m thinking of making the following my last words:

My nose is cold

my toes got mold

Don’t be worried, or worse, jealous. If you want to say them, be my guest. I can always think of something else.

It’s actually quite difficult to carry out specific last words. If you try it, and then let me know how it went. Most of the time we’ve got no idea that moment has come. Just ask the late great poet Louisa May Alcott, who died March 6, 1888. She probably could have picked a couplet from any one of the thousands of poems she penned, and no doubt had a few of them in mind to say if given the chance. She was having the stroke that killed her, but evidently she wasn’t sure what was happening because she asked “Is it not meningitis?” I suppose she could have said a lot worse, but that’s what she said and that’s what it was. Louisa, if no one else has answered your question, let me say no, it wasn’t meningitis.

I’d love it if my last words could be heard by all my children around me: “There’s 30 million dollars hidden in the -” Oh, what joy to see the look on their faces as I fade away! When my kids were little and they were in the car with me (ask them, it’s true) I would tell them “If we’re about to be in a horrible accident, make a funny face!” I told them that face would live on in the memory of everyone that survived. “Officer, my brother Moab and I were jus’ going’ down the road and allasudden this car with a man and kids comes at us from the side like a rocket, and I SWEAR them kids had the goofiest faces I’d ever seen! It was kinda spooky, if you ask me.”

Last words are always remembered, even if it’s “B-b-b-b-UTTER!” Oscar Wilde made sure his last words would be immortalized when he said “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go!” Way to go, Oscar!

There is a tradition, originally oriental, in which a literate person writes a poem on their deathbed. It’s called, appropriately, death poems. That’s why I penned that little ditty at the beginning of the article. Now, I use the word literate quite loosely. Look, if you’re kicking the bucket and all you can do is make an ‘X’, go ahead and X away, my friend.

Here are some pretty interesting last words spoken by folks who may or may not have been famous:

Louise-Marie-Therese de Saint Maurice, Comtesse de Vercellis let one rip while she was dying, and she said “Good. A Woman who can fart is not dead.” It’s a wonder she didn’t die every time she had to spell her name.

The late great Buddy Rich died after surgery in 1987. As he was being prepped for surgery, a nurse asked him, “Is there anything you can’t take?” Buddy replied, “Yeah, country music.”

Murderer James W. Rodgers was standing in front of a firing squad in Utah and was asked if he had a last request. He answered, “Bring me a bullet-proof vest.” He deserved at least another day for that one.

Groucho Marx was famous for his one-liners. His last words were “This is no way to live!”

If you happen to be reading this while you’re taking your last breath I feel sorry for you. I would have recommended the Bible. If I happen to be taking my last breath while writing this, I won’t be able to finish my sentence. Guess I’m still around.

If you could chose your last words, what would they be?

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