Believe it or not, I drastically edited my review of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk to make it shorter. I ramble, I get lost on tangents, and eventually I forget what I was talking about. It’s one of my worst qualities in storytelling. So now I’m going to share the other animal tales that didn’t make the cut! Book blog narcissism!
Mean Squirrel, from Sunday’s book review, is not the only squirrel in my life. There’s also Passive-Aggressive Squirrel. See, my little grey cat Rita has asthma just like her cripple mom and one day as a baby when she came home from a particularly long stay at the animal hospital, the others in our “glaring” of cats (hat-tip to the I-wish-he-were-a-real-boy-so-we-could-have-socially-awkward-children-together Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory for informing me what a herd of cats is properly called) decided they no longer liked, and in fact, would attack, Miss Rita. So she moved into the basement to live by herself, at least cat-wise. Part of being in the basement means the windows are at ground-level. Rita likes to jump up and sit in them to take in the world. So far she’s had visits from other neighborhood cats, birdies, a raccoon, and a family of teeny tiny bun-buns. And, of course, Passive-Aggressive Squirrel.
Passive-Aggressive Squirrel hates Rita. When they first met, he banged on the window and hissed at her, mocking Rita’s captivity. Now? He ignores her. He purposefully brings his nuts over to the window so Rita can watch him eat. This happens almost every day. Passive-Aggressive Squirrel? Kind of an asshole, but I respect that about him.
One of the cutest stories about Rita involves a mouse. The mouse snuck into our basement, probably through a hole around where the exhaust pipe for the dryer exits into my backyard. We have to re-seal the damn thing every fall. I was sitting on the couch watching TV (as the DVR that I control resides in the basement), when I heard the tiniest of squeaks. I thought Rita was finally playing with one of the squeaky toys she’d been given but has always ignored. But no, the fact of the matter is that the only toy Rita enjoys is a scrunchie she stole from my hair that she likes to toss into the air and catch herself. So eventually the program I’m watching goes to commercial, and I get up to go see what Rita is up to.
I am stunned. THERE IS A MOUSE! Rita is not your typical cat for many reasons, but most notably? She sucks as a predator. When bugs sneak into the basement, she gets low and pushes her nose up against them and tracks them wherever they go. Our other cats? Would have eaten the damn things before they’d gotten 6 inches into their journey. And there my little grey friend is, her body low to the floor and her nose pressed against the littlest grey mouse I have ever seen in my life.
I think the mouse is dead, but NO! It pops up and runs as fast as its little legs can carry it, Rita trailing behind. The mouse gets about a foot and a half away before it flips over, legs in the air, and plays dead again. Rita gets low and does the funniest thing. She pokes the mouse. Pokes it, as in, her claws are tucked in and she just wants to know what’s up. Poke poke. HEY HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING ARE WE PLAYING TAG IT’S YOUR TURN TO CHASE ME NOW. Squeak squeak. The mouse cracks one eye open then makes a run for it again, only to stop another foot and a half away.
Poke poke. HEY HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING ARE YOU TAKING A BREAK ARE YOU TUCKERED OUT I LIKE CUDDLES TOO. Headbutt. Squeak. Rita rolls over on her back, tummy out, flopping around next to the mouse who is still playing dead. Seeing the cat is distracted, the mouse runs again!
Poke poke. HEY HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU’RE GREY LIKE ME LET’S BE FRIENDS FOREVER. Loving headbutt. Squeak squeak squeak. By now, the sheer absurdity of the situation has worn off and I am thinking, My God! I have to get this poor mouse out of here before he dies of a heart attack. He doesn’t get that Rita wants to snuggle him, not make him into a snack! The mouse takes off again, stops, flips, and in his little fake dead position with his legs up in the air, I scoop him up before Rita can get a poke in. The poor thing was shaking in the palm of my hand. I brought him upstairs and deposited him outside and told him (yes I said it out loud because I like to pretend that animals understand me) that Rita was the nicest cat he would ever meet and to not come back or the rest of our cats might eat him and I liked him better alive, thank you very much. And I washed my hands, because I hear mice have the cooties.
This all happened back at the start of summer, I think. But Part Two in this saga happened just this week, actually on the very same day that Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk arrived in the mail for me. One of the downsides to this back injury is that I’m often stuck in bed for a few days at a time, because I have a worse than average pain day and sitting/standing/walking hurt so much. So I only venture down to the basement every few days for my cuddle time with Rita. I came down because in addition to my feline fix, I needed to clear some DVR space and check my (real people postal service) mail. Immediately my Mom yells at me to stop whatever I’m doing and sit down, because she has some bad news for me. My Mom went down to the basement to feed Rita that morning as usual. The steroids that Rita takes for her asthma make her ravenously hungry 24/7 so she can’t stop herself from eating all the food in her dish, which means we have to be careful not to overfeed her even a little because no one likes cleaning up kitty puke. (The best part of picking her meds up from our real people pharmacy is that when you sign for them, the little machine asks you, “Was this signed by RITA (CAT)?” … I’ve always wanted to bring Rita in on her little pink leash one day so I can check off the YES box. Bucket list item!) My Mom sees this little greyish brownish blob in one corner of the basement and thinks, oh no, Rita puked. She grabs the animal-safe carpet cleaning spray and the paper towels and walks over to said blob, only to discover that the puke is really a poor dead mouse that’s gone belly-up. My Mom is taken aback for a moment, then scoops up the mouse to be deposited outside. Walking up the stairs, she keeps rolling it around in the paper towel, trying to figure out how it died. But there is not a single mark on the mouse corpse. By the time she gets to the front door, my Mom remembers my story (with my super awesome poking/scurrying/playing dead hand and facial gestures thank you very much) of the mouse! She tells me…”Mollie, I have some bad news. Rita killed a mouse.” *dramatic pause for effect* “With kindness.”