|What do you do when even your Scully has abandoned you(r expectations of reason)!?|
And now, the piece you’ve all been patiently waiting for, the final chapter of Domestic Terror. We’ve already taken a look at the feral animal husbandry of my own mother and the Libertarian’s mother, which might make you think that you’ve got this phenomena down. Maybe you think you already know how this is going to end and you’ve already hypothesized that this is all about a misguided maternal instinct in middle-aged women whose children are in the process of leaving their homes. A symptom of empty nest syndrome, a sad commentary on the state of families today, when a grown child is as good as no child. A grand hypothesis that may be, but it is unfortunately about to be doubly subverted in our last case study.
Case Study #3 - Our very own Anya
That’s right readers, dearest Anya, our favorite highly-critical bundle of fun, is a secret friend to feral felines, or at least one particularly grungy neighborhood cat who frequently seeks solace in her garage. On one evening during the final quarter of 2012, I drove over to Anya’s to do a Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred video (filled with inspirational “Jillianisms”). As I pulled into the driveway, I was alarmed to see a creature dart out of a bush as my headlamps illuminated the front of the house. I cautiously made my way in through the garage, terrified that at any moment some other dark critter (probably a fucking raccoon) would jump out and attack me with a rapid rabid bite. Upon safely making it inside, I recounted my harrowing adventure to Anya. Instead of responding with surprised horror as I expected, she just shook her head knowingly.
ANYA: Was it a cat?PAUL: A cat? Like:
Yeah, I don’t think so. I’m pretty that it didn’t have a tail.
ANYA: It was missing a tail? Then it was probably Garage Cat. He’s also missing most of an ear.
PAUL: ...Garage Cat?
ANYA: I guess he broke away from that feral cat colony up the street and has been in the garage a lot. Like basically whenever we leave it open. Both of the dogs have been sniffing around a lot and we’re like ninety percent sure he peed in here at some point. You know cats.PAUL: So, it’s more like:
ANYA: Well he’s sad! And you know how I am about handicapped animals.
And yes, readers, you did read feral cat colony correctly. The neighbors up the street have a literal horde of feral cats that they have been feeding for months out of their back door. Nobody knows exactly how it started, maybe there was a lonely and compassionate middle-aged woman à la the Libertarian’s mother, who started feeding one sad neighborhood cat that quickly multiplied into 50 neighborhood cats who were then all dependent upon her for their survival. Regardless of how they got there, they are now the bane of the neighborhood, especially to Anya’s mother, hater of all things unsightly.
That was all that was said on Garage Cat until the following week. I was over again in the evening for a “rest night” of Pilates. We were hydrating in the kitchen when Anya’s mother returned home. She walked into the room with a disgusted look on her face.
ANYA’S MOM: We have got to stop leaving the garage open. That damn cat has been back, the whole garage smells like pee.
ANYA: Oh yeah?
ANYA’S MOM: Didn’t you smell that when you got home? You haven’t been feeding it, have you?ANYA’S MOM: You better not have been, girly girl! Do you want our house to look like the [neighbor’s], with new kittens popping out of the porch every hour? Uh uh, ain’t gon’ happen, and not just because we have a showing this weekend!
|Life should always look like a scene from Better Homes and Gardens. There are no feral cats in Better Homes and Gardens.|
After retreating to the basement, we stretched and settled into our Pilates routine. During the Hundred, I asked Anya about Garage Cat, after having remained silent throughout the exchange between her and her mother.
PAUL: Jesus, how many more?
ANYA: We’re not even halfway there!
PAUL: Ugh, fine, okay, question: You definitely haven’t been encouraging Garage Cat to stick around, right?
ANYA: ...Not exactly.
PAUL: That wasn’t very convincing.
ANYA: Well, I might have given him a tiny bit of turkey, but it was Thanksgiving! And it was so cold outside and it’s not like I was going to eat it. And some gravy. And some rice, but he didn’t want that.
PAUL: Are you - kidding - me?ANYA: It was Thanksgiving! And he’s sad, and I’m afraid he’s going to freeze to death!
“This is the fertility vase of the Ndebele tribe, does that mean anything to you?”
“No.”“Who are you!?”
So there I was, and here I remain, lost and oh so confused. What is it about these horrifying varmints that caused these individuals to form these attachments with them, causing them to reach out and attempt to care for these wild animals? Anya has a clear picture of the potential consequences of her actions right down the street, but that did not stop her from giving her Garage Cat a Thanksgiving feast. These women are all pet owners and nothing is stopping them from going to a shelter or store and getting an additional pet that is certain to be healthier and safer option than the disease-ridden selections they seem to be interested in, or helping out at a rescue or Humane Society. So why? I think it would be lazy to label these curiosities as maternal reactions, particularly when one of the perpetrators is Anya (who you should by now realize does not have a maternal bone in her body). Is it simply compassion for these beings that everyone else finds repulsive? I would posit that there is thus something important about these animals “selecting” the homes of these women for shelter. Our subjects grew attached to these specific animals, perhaps out of some kind of obligation or because they felt special or chosen.
But hey, what the fuck do I know? All I need is three instances of something bizarre for me to label it a ‘disturbing trend,’ and off I go. Maybe you know somebody in your life who has formed this connection and you think it’s nuts too, or maybe you’re one of those people and you can write me paragraphs of how cold and unfeeling and judgmental I am. What say ye?
In closing, I present an anecdote courtesy of Anya, who has the privilege of conversing with Spacey Secretary at least twice a day.
SPACEY SECRETARY: (out of the blue) I have of those motion detector lights on my house, you know.
ANYA: Oh yeah?
SS: Yeah, you know the kind that light up when something is moving out there?
SS: And the other day, it went on, and I said to my husband, what could that be? I wonder what’s out there, you know.
ANYA: Oh wow.
SS: So I thought, well maybe I’ll go out there and see. So I turned on the light and went out and I have a bird feeder, you know.
ANYA: Uh huh.
SS: Yeah, so I looked under this bird feeder and I saw...this really big...opossum! *widens eyes*
It continues in this vein for some time...ending with:
SS: My husband doesn’t really like it when I feed animals that come to the yard, you know. So I thought, well, maybe I’ll sneak him out some ham or something. (puts a finger to her lips, as if Anya is going to call her husband and spoil the opossum’s dinner).
They’re all in on it.