Welcome to this beautiful, sunny, warm Friday! Today’s chapter is dedicated to all those beautiful furry beings out there who make it their mission to love us “hair-less monkeys” unconditionally, wholly, and absolutely.
Chapter 22—Lolly Visits Her Mom.
Grandma Brown was so upset over the stuck in a tree incident that I was forbidden from going outside for the next month. She said it was because I had third degree sunburn on my ear tips, but I am pretty sure there was one of those “lessons” she always lectures Lolly about in there somewhere. During my month indoors, Grandma Brown insisted on slathering on something called “aloe” on my ear tips—three times a day, every single day. It felt awful and soothing all at the same time. It felt awful to have that goopy stuff on my ears, but it was soothing to have something cool smothered on my poor burned ears. I am not proud to say it, but I howled like a big baby each and every time. For the first little while, Grandma Brown felt so bad for me that she fed me her special concoction of spam and tuna just to calm me down. Thanks to her efforts my ears did not suffer permanent damage from the sunburn.
By the time I was ready to play outside again, we were half way through Lolly’s summer holidays. This would have been no big deal except Grandma Brown had made arrangements for Lolly to go to visit her mom. My girl was so excited because not only was she going to see her mom, but she was going to ride on an airplane for the very first time. She was so excited that she just couldn’t stop talking about it. Both Bailey and I were happy to see our girl so excited, but deep down I was already starting to miss my girl. After all, aside from the tonsillectomy, Lolly and I never spent more than a night or two apart. I was so distressed about Lolly’s vacation that I tried to hide in her suitcase just so she’d take me along.
Grandma Brown seemed to be on to my tricks, however. For every time I hunkered down in Lolly’s luggage, Grandma Brown would sit down right beside the suitcase and enjoy a tuna-spam saltine cracker treat. Bailey would show up, and start sniffing around and before long I would be discovered—cover blown. Bailey was totally disrespecting my position as head-pet, and she was a total turn-coat whenever anyone offered her even the tiniest scrap of food. I didn’t really blame or resent her though—mostly I just lamented over the fact that I wasn’t a polydactyl cat with opposable thumbs (because then I could have the means to also bribe Bailey with food).
Before long, Lolly’s departure was upon us. Grandma Brown packed her little red truck with Lolly’s woefully cat-free luggage, and Lolly gave both Bailey and I a hug and kiss good-bye. As Lolly hugged me, she whispered into my ear, “Please keep Grandma from being lonely without me—purr her to sleep!” I barely had time for an extra whisker kiss and my little girl was off and climbing into Grandma Brown’s little red truck. I watched Bailey watch Grandma Brown buckle our girl into her seat, and I could see what was coming next. As Grandma Brown and Lolly pulled away—Bailey began howling. She howled louder and longer than I had ever heard her. She howled longer and louder than the time when Sadie said good-bye, and the time with the fire truck mixed together. Bailey howled so loudly that I swear the windows rattled.
As head pet—I had my work cut out for me. First I purred, then I whisker kissed. When that didn’t stop Bailey’s howling, I had to resort to extreme measures: I gave her a clawless swat on the tip of her nose. I had never used a clawless swat before, but Monty had used it to great effect one time (on me. He taught me how, and told me the most important part of the clawless swat was the timing: the element of surprise was crucial to its effect. If you surprised your target, you could startle them into submission without need of slashing, growling, and hissing. I didn’t want to hurt Bailey, I just wanted her to stop her ear splitting howling, so I tried—for the very first time—a clawless swat.
I must have enjoyed an extraordinary beginner’s luck because Bailey very nearly choked on her howls and stopped cold. She was kind of insulted by my tactics and snarled at me. Then she huffed, whimpered and crawled into her basket—head first. All I could see for the next hour was Bailey’s bum and tail, and there was nothing I could do to get her skinny little tail to wag. Bailey’s feelings were hurt, and she was in sulk mode. When Grandma Brown finally got home, I was the only pet who greeted her at the door. Bailey, who usually greets Grandma Brown like she is Santa, wrapped in tuna with a shiny spam bow, didn’t even twitch her skinny little tail.
I tried to tell Grandma Brown about Bailey, the howling, and my clawless swat, but she seemed distracted. She didn’t even offer me a tuna snack. She simply tucked away her hat and shoes and went out into her garden. Usually Grandma Brown will invite me out to join her in the garden, but not today. I was stuck inside a quiet house, with an unnaturally quiet fellow pet. As head pet, I decided to keep watch on Bailey since past evidence never proved that silence from Bailey made for good results. As I approached Bailey’s bed, I realized that she really wasn’t being completely quiet. Bailey was making huffing and snuffing sounds—which wasn’t totally abnormal for her, but usually she is walking around when she makes those sounds. As I listened, I realized that Bailey was…crying?
Yes, Bailey was crying. Her shoulders heaved up and down, and she snuffed and huffed as she sobbed. I never realized that Bailey was so sensitive about good-byes. I had taken for granted that Bailey, having had said good-bye to Pops, and his daughters, wasn’t well adjusted when it came to good-byes. It would seem, that for Bailey, saying good-bye to Lolly was one good-bye too many. I was at a loss for what to do, so I did the only thing I knew how to do when someone I cared about cried: I climbed into her basket, curled up and purred loud and strong.
“You h-h-h-h-h-h-hit m-m-m—m-m-m-meee”, Bailey said in between sobs. I started to feel pretty guilty, and didn’t know quite what to say, so I said, “Grandma didn’t give me any tuna when she got home.” Now don’t ask me what that had to do with anything, but clearly we were all pretty upset and missing Lolly. “Tuna?!” Bailey’s head jerked up suddenly, and I fell out of her basket with a mighty ‘fwwunk!’ Trust Bailey to forget her grief long enough to remember she liked eating tuna. I took the opportunity to broach the topic of how we could band together and help each other get through Lolly’s absence. I reminded Bailey that we needed to work together to remind Grandma Brown that tuna made everything better. Bailey had, at times, a bit of a one track mind because the only answer I got from her was “Tuna?! Grandma Brown? Tuna?”
It was at this point in our conversation that Grandma Brown came in from her garden. Bailey made a beeline for her and started yelping “Tunatunatunatuna-tuuuuNNNa!” In her enthusiasm Bailey jumped up at Grandma Brown in a double high-five style. Poor Grandma Brown nearly fell over. “Oh by Jeeves you crazy hound—I haven’t got Lolly with me. We’ll all just have to wait out the time for her to come back to us. Come now, I think it is time for a bit of a snack.” With that, Grandma Brown was on her way back to her tuna serving self.