Thursday morning, start of the long weekend for remote workers such as myself now in the seventh month of a two-week lockdown; no appointments, no boring conference calls, no “Zoom” meetings that crawl, not zoom, from start to finish.
“Would you mind taking the cats to their Herbal Catcare appointment?” my wife asked just after I’d stretched out on the couch for the first of two naps for the day, possibly three if I’m going for my personal best.
“You mean to say the cats now have whacked-out doctors like you?”
“Only some of my doctors are holistic.”
“I know–the ones who aren’t covered by insurance. Why do the cats need herbal care?”
“Everyone needs natural healthcare. Our inefficient, conflicted, opaque . . .”
” . . . you forgot mercenary.”
” . . . mercenary system of capitalist healthcare only focuses on healing you after you’re sick.”
“While ‘natural’ healthcare separates you from your money while you’re still healthy?”
I ruminated about the ruination of my day this prospect promised for me. “Did you talk to the cats about this?”
“Pfft,” she pffted. “They’re cats–they have no say in the matter.”
“There will be questions.”
“Why do they have to go to a naturopath vet when they just got their booster shots.”
“Okie’s gut is dragging the ground, and Rocco continues to engage in anti-social behavior.”
“Don’t mean to go all Disney on you, but that’s the ‘Circle of Life.’”
“Just do it for me, would you–I’ve got Pilates at ten.”
With that she headed for the garage, gave me a quiche-eating grin, if you know what I mean, and said “Have fun!”
I let out a breath that was half exhale, half groan, but like Gary Cooper in High Noon, I was too proud to run. I gulped the last sip of coffee in my mug and headed into the living room, where two (2) sunspots on the eastward-facing side of the house were occupied by two (2) cats.
“Hey guys,” I called out in my most affable tone. “You want to go for a ride?”
Okie got up on one elbow and said “Sure.” He’s a grey tabby who’s gotten by for 70 cat years on his good looks and not his critical faculties.
“No,” Rocco said, without so much as opening an eyelid. “It only means trouble.”
“Seriously, it will be fun, just like when the kids were little and I’d take them out for unhealthy snacks on a Saturday when their mother couldn’t regulate their sugar intake.”
“Treats!” Okie said as he bounded to the back door, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
“You’re not getting out of this,” I said to Rocco who, like me is more skeptical than the housemate of his particular species.
“Since you’re being honest about it–instead of sneaking up on me from behind to stuff me in a cat carrier–I’ll go quietly.”
We got into the car and headed into town, where Herbal Petcare is located. As my wife has astutely pointed out in the past, we have some of our most enlightening conversations with our dependents–feline and human–when they’re in the car with us. There’s something about facing straight ahead, so we aren’t staring into each other’s eyes, that has a mesmerizing effect on them. All sorts of things bubble up to the conscious mind that would otherwise lay hidden deep within them on a full-bore direct examination.
“What is this place we’re going to?” Rocco asked.
“It’s a natural health clinic for pets–mom spotted it driving by one day.”
“What is it with her and alternative medicine?”
“Well, you know what Goya said.”
“Goya the largest Hispanic-owned food company in America?”
“No, Francisco Goya, Spanish painter.”
“What did he say?”
“I’ve heard her snore,” Rocco said. “She’s not as bad as you.”
“No, I mean she relies too heavily on her rational mind . . .”
“She was a math major,” Rocco said.
” . . . in her everyday life, and so she needs some sort of outlet for her repressed hoo-doo impulses.”
Francisco Goya’s “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.”
“Gosh,” Okie said. That’s the kind of brilliant apercu he’s capable of when he puts his mind to it.
“You mean she goes to like . . . witch doctors?” Rocco asked, and I detected an uncharacteristic note of concern in his voice.
“No, but there was that chiropractor of hers who claimed to be able to adjust her back over the phone.”
I thought Rocco had a hairball at first, but he was just laughing. “Seriously?”
” . . . and there was that ‘naturopath’ who analyzed her ‘aura.’”
“Does she still go to see him?”
“No, her inherited sense of Scotch thrift kicked in when he tried to sell her an extended service contract that included a mood ring.”
“Rings are pretty,” Okie said. Like I say, he’s not the brightest bulb on the scoreboard.
“Anything else we should know about?” Rocco asked.
“Well, you know Mrs. Della Famina, right?”
“She’s pretty,” Okie said.
“Pretty crazy and pretty apt to stay that way as my mom would say,” I cracked.
“Why do you say that?” Rocco asked.
“She has a bunch of crystals, and she takes them outside at night to absorb moonlight.”
There was nothing but silence from the back seat. “What-on-earth-for?” Rocco finally asked.
“She thinks it recharges their healing powers,” I said as we turned into the parking lot.
By now the cats brows were furrowed with concern, and I anticipated a struggle getting them out of the car. Maybe, I thought, I’ll go inside and get one of the pet nurses to help.
“C’mon guys, it’s time to go,” I said in my most avuncular Scoutmaster manner as if I was trying to talk a pack of ten-year-olds into an overnight camping trip. In a tornado.
“I don’t like the sound of this,” Rocco said as I opened the back seat door, only to feel Okie rush through my legs in a blur of fur.
“Like a lamb led to slaughter,” Rocco said out of the side of his mouth.
“Rocco–come on!” Okie shouted from the clinic steps.
“What’s got you so excited, dimwit?” the smarter of the two cats asked.
“It’s a catnip dispensary!”