Monday, February 7, 2011

It Started With Eyebrows & Ended With A Cat

Friday was one of those days without a purpose – it started with eyebrows and ended with a cat. Those two things aren’t connected (cruel, and occasionally accurate feline analogies about the copious amounts of hair on my face aside) by anything but a series of seemingly random events (several of which were driven by my unending desire to eat).

After a tweezer-filled, flinch-inducing encounter with my industrious Brow Girl I found myself wondering what I could have for Second Breakfast. Somehow that led me to conclude I should drop in unannounced on my older sister Mrs Woog and her rather well-supplied pantry of treats and cheese slices. From there Mrs Woog and I took the natural hop, step and a valet park to a nearby eatery that served dumplings. Somewhere in there I also ended up sampling a mega block of toblerone (it made sense at the time).

So far, so full, but it was then that my casual eating tour of the north shore was interrupted by a rather tragic turn of events. Enter the cat. His name was Wilson. It was as Mrs Woog and I were miss-quoting Clueless to each other (“Why learn to park? Everywhere you go has valet”) that we learnt Wilson, the devoted Cat Lord of my young nephew Barry was more than a little unwell. According to test results Wilson was riddled with cancer.

Ultimately this all led to a sad farewell that afternoon to Wilson, and an even sadder Barry who wept silently in the back of the car after his mum explained the terrible news.

I was okay myself, hardened by my own track-record of pet love, loss and occasional terror. The terror mostly came in the form of the first family pet I can remember. It was a grizzled cat called Kimba, who could easily have been mistaken for a stray. Inexplicably my family tagged the intimidating beast (we had a German Shepherd and a Doberman who lived below it in the backyard pecking order) with an adaptation of an old school chant that only retrospectively seems troublesome…

That girl Painefull is no good
Chop her up for firewood
If she is no good for that
I’ll feed her to Kimba the cat

My family has a long history of adapting for its own purposes, I only recently realized my favourite childhood nursery rhyme may have actually been an advertising jingle.

Myself, I tend to choose pets that seem to annoy other pets. Back when I was in single digits, I was cleaning my bird cage one day as the brown-feathered Bert stuck his head between the bars to breath in one furtive gasp of freedom. Unfortunately for Bert his timing was off (it always had been, he was constantly head-butting things he intended to peck). Basil the Doberman was wondering by, and with one easy swallow bit Bert’s head off, without even slowing down to take in the repercussions. Bert’s soul & cage-mate Ernie was never the same.

Then there was the miniature Schnauzer Pepper who caused homicidal urges in just about everyone but me. One day she so enraged a Rottweiler called Lucy that the larger dog actually attempted to eat her. It was probably only the nagging certainty that Pepper was the kind of dog that would have caused indigestion that stopped Lucy midway and led to Pepper taking on the appearance of some sort of Franken-puppy.

In fact as Mrs Woog and I gave Wilson one final pat my family’s Pepper-rage once again reared its head.

ME: I’ll stay with him for the end if you like – if you don’t want him to be alone.

MW: I couldn’t ask you to do that…

ME: It’s okay, it wouldn’t be nice, but he’s your pet so I totally understand if you can’t be here. I mean if it was Pepper I couldn’t watch the end…

MW: If it was Pepper I’d be holding the needle.

You’ll be pleased to know that Pepper had died many years earlier of natural causes, valiantly resisting toilet training, and soiling my sibling’s belongings right till the end.

As affecting as Barry’s grief was, I considered myself unsentimental enough to recover. In order to avoid the (RIDICULOUS) heat, I took myself off to a screening of ‘How Do You Know’, which despite its name did not contain an underlying message about the importance of avoiding punctuation. All good and well, but around halfway through the film a character tells a story that ends with the death of a cat. And there it was. It had me at dead cat, it had me at dead cat. I actually found myself tearing up like some hormone-crazed pregnant woman, as if somehow Owen Wilson was really speaking to me on a deeper level.

Fortunately, as a solo act in a cinema full of couples, no one paid any attention as I (very, very briefly) dabbed at my eyes. Let us never speak of this again.

Eventually Barry and I were bound to recover. The second half of my mega toblerone helped me, and hopefully realising how lucky he was to know Wilson will help Barry.

Painefull Out


  1. RIP Wilson ... and good to know that Mrs Woog has a well-stacked pantry.

  2. RIP Wilson. You are a very brave sister.