My brother Chuck’s regular refrain when we were kids: “I’m not speakin’ to you!” (with a very strong emphasis on the “p”). He used the phrase more often on Dale than on me. I was more than 5 years his senior and she was more than 8. She had a way of getting under our skin. And she loved every minute of it. So, Chucky would regularly come stomping into the bedroom we shared and walk up to the small chalkboard my father had mounted on the wall. He would draw an angry vertical line down the center to form two columns. Atop one, he would write “GOOD” and atop the other, “BAD.”
“That’s it,” he’d yell. “You’re on the bad list, Dale!” And he would write her name.
I could always hear Dale’s laughter from the other room. She’d usually sweet-talk herself off the board within an hour. (She was as good at being apologetic as she was at being annoying.) Chucky would erase everything — in preparation for the next time. I was rarely on the bad list. However, when I was, it was for a much longer stretch. He once got so angry with me, he roared, “You know what you are?”
“What?” I cooly replied.
He snarled, “You’re a real dammit!”
|THE REAL DAMMIT AND LITTLE BROTHER.
This all came to mind late this afternoon when we brought the cats home from their follow-up visit with the vet. They behaved exactly the way they did two weeks ago. They were not happy about being stuffed into their carriers (Jerry grabbed Moose and I grabbed Dudo). They were not happy — although they were gentle — about being handled by the doctor (who commented on how beautiful and unusual their eye color is, pure gold sometimes, vivid green at others). Dudo did not enjoy being carried through the streets amid the noise and traffic. (Moose seemed to like that part.)
|HEADING HOME: MOOSE FOUND IT ALL VERY FASCINATING.|
|CLEVER DUDO PULLED THE CUSHION OVER HIMSELF.|
When we got home and opened the carrier doors, they both shot into the living room and under the couch. They individually came out to eat a couple of times, but would not make eye contact with us as they sped quickly by. Then it was back under the couch. We tried talking soothingly to them. No reaction.
I kept hearing in my head, “I’m not SP-eaking to you!”
After about four hours, Moose let me cuddle with him on the floor for a couple of minutes. When Jerry bent down, he turned his back and rudely walked away. Dudo continued to ignore us both. It has now been eight hours since we returned home. Dudo just came into my room and let me stroke his back — for a brief moment. Jerry just went and talked to them both. They went back under the couch.
So, it looks like I may be first to be forgiven. I sure hope we’re both off the “BAD” list soon. I’m feeling like a real dammit.