Thursday, January 19, 2012

Monkey-fuck-a-football: an Example

Back in August, I blogged about my father's humorous rhetoric. One of my personal favorite "Dadisms," as I call them, is monkey-fuck-a-football. It can be used as a noun or adjective. The definition is a situation in which one is extremely uncoordinated and clumsy.

The evolution of monkey-fuck-a-football is rooted in my father's need to plan a time to plan the plan. Nothing, nothing takes place in his world without careful thought, some deliberation, and a lot of measuring. On those rare occasions when he must act on the fly, the most simplest tasks become riddled with complications. During those times, Dad would say, "It's like a monkey trying to fuck a football," which has evolved into monkey-fuck-a-football.

Not only is imagery funny, but the use of alliteration and consonance appeals to the ears and the tongue. Bravo, Dad. Not bad for an engineer.

My brother-in-law, Cory, doesn't quite understand it's meaning and he's an English teacher as well! He might not get this particular metaphor, but he adds an example of irony to it quite nicely.

Even more ironically, it is the birth of his and my sister, Kelli's, son on Wednesday that led to a perfect example of monkey-fuck-a-football. And, of course, I am the star. Well, I'm the supporting role. The stars are Kelli and Cory's pets: Jade, Duncan, and Zeus.

Jade is a Pit Bull, Doberman, Labrador mix. Her looks may be mostly Pit Bull, but her temperament is all Lab. When she hauls her 50 pounds of pure muscle into your lap for a belly rub, it is both adorable and painful. In her world, playtime is all the time. No one can wear this girl out--your arm will go numb before she's tired of playing fetch.
 Duncan, a puppy only twelve weeks old, is a Shih Tzu / Maltese mix. He weighs 3 lbs. but bosses the entire household around. My dad calls him Rizzo the Rat. When I first saw him, I asked Kelli if that was a dog or had she just cleaned out her hair brush?

Duncan munching on my finger.

Zeus, an average alley cat, is twelve years old and one grumpy old man. Kelli adopted him when he was a year old and he clearly had been an outdoor cat because he has escaped his indoor life several times. Zeus barely tolerated Cory moving in on my sister, but the addition of Jade and Duncan has really ticked him off.  He spends a lot of time brooding and whining. Kelli swears that if he had opposable thumbs, he would pack up his shit and leave. He tries to woo all visitors into taking him home with them by trying to climb into purses or curling up in laps and purring. 

For the three nights that Kelli would be in the hospital (my nephew, Jay Joseph was born by Cesarean section) Cory and I planned to trade residences because they live close to my work and I live close to the hospital. Also, my three cats could survive without people around as long as food was in their bowls. My sister's pets--who all have individual regiments for everything from where their food bowls are located to their level of access to the backyard--would not fare so well.

Kelli and Cory manage their animal's routines and restrictions with confidence and deftness. Me? Monkey-fuck-a-football.

Last week, after spending the day at the hospital I drove up to Whittier anticipating very anxious animals who had been sequestered for over twelve hours. Having spent the entire time alone in the backyard, Jade greeted me with a pit bull's enthusiasm and nails. She is trained, but still struggles with not jumping on visitors. I struggle with not stepping in dogshit or falling into a hole that she had dug on my way from the garage to the back porch. Doing this at night? Oy.

Once I made it to the porch poop-free but with a bruised thigh from where Jade's paws had landed, I let Duncan out of the laundry room. He bounded outside, yipping away, looking like a giant hairball blowing across the lawn.

I went into the house, followed by Jade, to put my stuff down: overnight bag, keys, purse and cellphone. Zeus immediately accosted me with squawks for food. I dropped some kibble into his bowl and then went back outside with Jade to monitor the peeing. Because Duncan is so small and a puppy, he is not left outside for long periods of time.

My Nemesis
I didn't go out through the laundry room, because that's where Duncan is closed up when no one is home with his food, a crate, and puppy pads. I had traversed enough shit for one day and really no one ever goes in an out of the house that way. The main exit from the house to the backyard is a set of glass doors complete with screens. I decided to close the screen doors only.

Jade went over to her food and water bowl and had dinner while stood with hands on hips, ordering Duncan to do his business so we could go in the house and go to bed. Instead of business, Duncan was frolicking around, plucking up pink flowers that had fallen off a bush. He brought a wilting bud to me, then got another one, shook it vigorously to show it who was boss and then took it on a tour of the entire backyard. Unfortunately, the tour didn't include bathroom breaks.

While my back was turned, Zeus snuck out onto the porch. I saw him and acted with authority and calm so that he wouldn't bolt. Opening the screen door, I called to Jade who immediately came and went inside. Duncan, on the otherhand, needed more coaxing. He may be a puppy, but he's a slippery little booger, and it was quite a challenge to catch him and keep and eye on the cat as he skulked around the lawn. Once I had Duncan, I threw him into the house (along with a few pink flower petals) and closed the two doors so that the dogs wouldn't come back outside (the screen doors don't really latch closed) and startle the cat into a run.

"Zeus, you silly boy, what are you doing?" I cooed as I crept up on him. He hunkered down a bit, suspicious, but I moved slowly and kept my voice low until I got close enough to snatch him up. Cat in arms, I lugged him to the door, shifted his girth under one arm, grabbed the doorknob. . . and found it locked.

Mumbling under my breath, I went to the laundry room door . . .  and found it locked.

Oh shit.

Wrapping Zeus in a tight, double arm hold, I went to the door that led from the master bedroom to the backyard and found it . . . you guessed it . . . locked.

Hell, if the house caught fire, each resident had his or her own exit, but I as one person couldn't find a way in through any of them. Cory, I have just usurped you as a model of irony.

Great. I'm locked outside with an indoor cat at 11 p.m. without keys and without a phone. Jade and Duncan sat in front of the glass doors wagging their tails and cocking their heads at me in confusion. I watched Duncan pee on the carpet and then scurry around it with triumph.

My only option was to leave Zeus in the garage, climb over the fence, hope I didn't break a bone because I couldn't call an ambulace, and then hope that a neighbor would bring me his or her cellphone to call my mother (who I learned later actually didn't have a key). I had no plans to call my sister or her husband; they had just had their first child and all they needed was to worry about me being locked out of their house. With the cat.

Trudging across the back lawn (still managing not to step in dog shit) I found the garage door also locked. Oh, and the garage door opener? In the house. With the keys and my phone and my brain.

Fuck me.

I could barely hop a fence with a ladder, a pully system, and a team of stuntmen. Haul my shit over a fence with a very agitated, overweight cat? Forget it. Zeus began to voice his disapproval with a gutteral growl. I squeezed him tighter; he squirmed.

It was out of the question to leave the cat in the backyard while I tried to get to a neighbor's house. The chances that he'd still be around when I returned were slim and I could not lose this cat. The few times he had run away--once being gone for three days--Kelli had been distraught. If I lost the damn cat, she'd be devastated and I'd never forgive myself.

Hoisting the cat up, I marched with purpose back to the glass doors. Eyeing them, I took a deep breath. I turned my profile to the target, leaned my weight into one leg, readjusted my hold on Zeus, and launched my less burdened foot toward the door. My heel cracked the white paint of the wooden frame. Encouraged, I slammed my foot into it again. The dogs scooted back and lowered their heads, but they did not run. Zeus snarled and squirmed. I tightened my grip and delivered a series of kicks--my leg whipping out from my body; a boom and rattle echoing from each strike. The glass in the door quivered.

I would have looked pretty bad-ass if I hadn't been wearing yoga pants, a shirt with a lotus flower and the image of a mediating Buddha on it. Oh, and clutching a fat, grey cat to my chest. But, I felt bad-ass. Until I had to take a break and catch my breath.

Glaring at the cat in my arms and panting, I drew my posture up, jut out my chest, lunged back, and fired my leg out one more time. The doors flew open spraying chips of wood and sending two dogs fleeing. Tossing the cat onto the ground, I gave him a good scolding. I think I also cussed out my keys and phone for good measure. I flipped-off the garage door opener.

Yanking off my ugg boots, I dropped them on the floor only to have Duncan take one in his mouth and drag it out of sight.

There was pee to clean up, but I wanted to make sure the door was secure first.

The inside and outside knobs were still intact, but the strike plate and the deadlatch were not longer securely in the door. I tried to push them back into place, but bent screws and bits of broken wood got in the way. Finally, I was able to force the doors closed, and luckily, the screen doors had hook latches on the inside. I could at least keep strangers from breaking in.

That done, I turned to head into the kitchen for a glass of wine (or shot of Tequila) and stepped in Duncan's pee. But, I kept going only to find that they had no red wine and no chilled white wine. And no Tequila.

The icing on the cake? Not only do I have icing, I've got decorations too. During the night, Duncan peed in the bed while I slept spooning Jade. The next morning my foot sunk into a nice little turd Duncan left for me in the hallway. And, later that next day, my brother-in-law decided to run home, discovered the damaged doors, and called the police because he thought someone had broke in.  He wasn't totally wrong; someone did break in. There was just no need to call the police.

Well, maybe there was.

When my sister called to ask me about the doors and asked "if I had noticed that they'd been pried open?" I said, "Of course, I noticed because I did it. Only I didn't pry them open, I had to kick them in."

After a pregnant pause (I know, groaner pun), I added, "It was monkey-fuck-a-football at your house last night. I had my ass handed to me a 3 lb fur-ball and a 14 lb feline."

She needed no other explanation.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Little Fact; A Little Fiction: Holiday Spirits

Yes, I am aware that the holidays are over. No, I am not trying to stretch them out.

What inspired this post is more the "spirit" than the "holiday."

Now that I am on Winter Break, I have the luxury to lolly-gag in the morning and then to park myself in front of my laptop and write away--my version of paradise.

But, with the addition of two new kittens to my household last month, the lolly-gagging is extending into wallowing.  This particular morning, the kittens were even more playful and cuddly, so I spent quite a bit of time on my couch indulging in cuteness while casting furtive glances at my laptop resting patiently on the coffee table in front of me. Gotta update the blog. Gotta finish revisions on my query letter. Shit, gotta finish revisions on the novel.

I'm not sure if it was the kittens or my self-imposed, Herculean writing "to do" list that kept me on my couch longer than normal this morning, but what's even more mysterious is what snapped me out of playtime.

I suddenly remembered that before going to bed the previous night, I had taken my computer into my office and plugged it in.

I don't sleepwalk. I don't drink (well, not enough to black out). And even though my memory is going the way of the dodo (too many drugs in high school), I am not suffering from Alzheimer's.

Sure, a midnight kitten WWF match might of unplugged my computer, but it was in a different location. A different room.

Going to my office, I saw the power cord still plugged in and draped across my desk. A bit of the silver prongs peeked out from the light socket, as if someone had yanked the computer to break its connection to power strip.

Did someone break in, saw that I had three cats and no money, and then decided to use my computer to find another victim a little more rich and a little less like the crazy, cat lady? Probably not. I am a very light sleeper and would have heard him.

That leaves me curious, but not perplexed. This is not the first time I've experienced such mysteries. Such unexplained phenomena.

Once in college, I found my bed unmade in the middle of the afternoon. I make my bed every morning. Every morning. Even before that first cup of coffee. I wouldn't flee my burning apartment with rumpled sheets. What was even more strange was that it looked as if someone had wormed him or herself under the sheets--as if in attempt to keep them tucked in on all three sides-- leaving a long, cylindrical "hump" where a body (or some other entity) had been. And trust me, Goldilocks isn't going to find anything "just right" in my apartment.

I've come home to every cupboard and drawer in my apartment left open, and it's not the result of a burglary. It's more a lost scene from Poltergeist.  I've yet to find anything missing.

Occasionally, I've found my jewelry has been moved. Not hidden; just moved. I am very organized: necklaces hang from hooks in the walls of my closet, family heirlooms are in the Victorian jewelry box on the top closet shelf, rings in the small silver box on my dresser.  I have found rings on the hooks in the closet and necklaces in shoes I have left by my front door. Not only do I remember putting the jewelry where it belongs, but the pieces I find misplaced are not pieces I had worn recently.

Last August I lost my cat, Ramses, to diabetic shock. He used to sleep with me every night. He'd jump up at the end of the bed, walk the length of my body and curl up right above my shoulder. Since he's died, there have been a few nights where I have felt his feet gingerly skipping over my legs as he makes him way up to my head. I scoot over to make room for him at the corner of my bed. But, when I reach out to pet him, he's (of course) not there. I'll open my eyes, expecting to see his surviving sister, Cleo, has taken up the sleep-around-mom's-head mantle, but she isn't there.

There is a lamp in my living room that switches on and off on its own. I don't turn this light on often, not because it scares me, but because I hardly ever sit in the chair it illuminates. While my mother stayed with me for a couple of days this holiday season, she needed the light so she could knit at night. I think it clicked on and off twice before Mom asked me about it.  My answer of "it always does that" and my shrug left her quite confused. And questioning my sanity.

When the unexplained pops into my life, I don't process it as such in the moment. The strangeness of discovering my unmade bed, of feeling the steps of my deceased cat on my back, of my light clicking on and off on its own occurs to me hours later. It doesn't freak me out; it just gives me pause. Neither am I running for a Ouija Board or an exorcist.

A lot of people, for different reasons, want to believe in the supernatural. We are titillated by fear, drawn in by mystery. Children love to tell ghost stories at slumber parties and around camp fires. Do Even Animal Planet has it's version of ghost hunting.

Why do we seem to want the unexplained to have no explanation? We didn't hang on to X-files for ten years because Scully always proved Mulder wrong. Is it about wanting answers to what happens to us after death? Is it about finally having knowing where our deceased loved ones have gone? Or is the human ego always in search of way to define itself as more unique and even more interesting than others?

In my case, those that know me would say my paranormal experiences are a result of ego. And that is too far from the truth. But again, note the title: "A Little Fact; A Little Fiction." Anyone wanna take a stab at which is which? Do so in the comments.