Friday, May 23, 2003

androgyny and inclement weather

We have three cats, my wife and I. Their names are Lincoln, Tag, and Cleo. About two weeks ago, Cleo began to sneeze. This behavior is not particularly out of the ordinary for Cleo, who likes to stand under the bathtub faucet and drink, consequently soaking her head to the skull from the dripping water and thereby exponentially increasing her chances of catching cold. She sneezes fairly often. The evening in question, however, she sneezed and kept sneezing, and so Cleo went to the vet the next day.

This stupid cat. Cleo is the only feline I’ve ever taken in directly from outdoors. When she arrived on our doorstep back in December, it was obvious she’d been turned out. Too friendly to be feral, too small and thin to be fed, too clean to have been outside for long, and too cold and shivery to ignore, the sorry animal suckered me into unnatural weakness, and I invited her to stay. She promptly made herself at home and gave the other two cats ear mites. Tag’s left ear grew swollen from his tossing it back and forth in itchy frustration; it required three or four vet visits and a small surgery to remedy and left me feeling like an irresponsible jackass and a terrible father.

And then she started sneezing.

‘Upper respiratory infection’ was the official diagnosis from Dr. Hendrix. The doctor also informed us that we were absolute morons and had somehow lived with this cat for almost six months without figuring out she was a he.

“We have to think of a new name for Cleo,” Holly says on the phone, "since she's a neutered male."

My brother and his girlfriend want us to call him Cletus. We have tossed around Sue (and an accompanying memorial 'June Carter' suggestion) as well as RuPaul, Otto, Marvin, Jolson, and Beano. Having been denied the opportunity to name Tag, whose preexisting moniker we tried desperately to change to ‘Opie’ upon his adoption but failed in the end to break, branding Cleo anew is very important to us and garnering appropriate deep reflection. I don’t want to swear I’ve settled on ‘Shuggie’ and then waffle in a couple of days.

The huge AMA motorcycle race is over at last. 60,000 people turned out and bought up nearly every piece of event merchandise we’d produced. I would have considered the affair a moderate success had its finale not been a brief thunderstorm that pitched the heaviest gust of its precursory winds beneath the eaves of our 16 x 25 x 20 foot marquee tent and flipped it over backwards. Its mass crashed spectacularly down upon a white pickup truck and the two bikes strapped into its bed and also somehow managed not to kill or seriously injure any one of the nine employees standing inside it when the tables turned (this list including my brother, his girlfriend, several eighteen year old kids, and myself). The customers were making their ways home already, and at least everything was in boxes when it started pouring rain immediately thereafter, truly so immediate as to seem divine, like a cosmic chuckle. The storm dumped its bucketsful for each moment we were hustling the perishables to safety and then just as promptly stopped once we were done.

One of the vendors at the race was Sobe, who had arrived in a black and green bus to give away samples of their tasty beverages. I spent most of my weekend in a golf cart, riding between locations to distribute merchandise, handle paperwork, and attempt to resolve issues the sometimes delicate nature of which were revealed to me only in static barks from an ageworn walkie-talkie. In the midst of this business, I drove past Sobe's bus several times before recognizing my old friend Nancy, whom I hadn’t seen in many years, among its employees. The last information I’d received about her placed her in London, but I learned she’d moved back to Georgia after six months’ time and had in fact been living in Athens since before Holly and I moved here. Her apartment is perhaps two miles from ours.

Sunday was my birthday. My boss bought cupcakes topped with plastic Incredible Hulk pinkie rings, and everyone sang while the candles burned. I wished for a nap.

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