I am responsible AF.
Well, except when it comes to taking care of my friends’ pets.
Then all bets are off.
I feel as though it should be said that I have zero pet sitting skills. I didn’t own pets as a kid and I was 41 years old when our first family pet joined our family. As my neighbors will attest, my learning how to care for a dog has been a bumpy road, to say the least. There was the time Daisy The Shih Tzu ate peanut butter and had Incredible Hulk green poop. And the time Daisy ran through our freshly asphalted driveway and my neighbors had to show up with Dawn dish detergent (for Daisy) and a horse tranquilizer (for me). And, of course, there was the time she ate an entire bag of crayons and rainbow pooped for a week.
The point is, I am the least qualified person to take care of animals and yet, my friends continue to ask me to do so when they are out of town or need help with their pets. I have happily (and with much sweating) let my friends’s dogs out to pee and have lent moral support when new puppies have felt like a bad decision. And, I have tried to offer advice when I can but, saying “Don’t let your dog run through a newly asphalted driveway” makes me sound like an idiot.
So, when my friend asked me to watch her two cats, Pumpkin and Ginger, for a weekend, I reminded her of the asphalt situation. She insisted that I was qualified and I dubiously said yes.
That would turn out to be a mistake.
Because the cats would be staying at her house and I’d be checking on them periodically over the weekend, my friend left detailed instructions. Where the food would be, how to divvy it up, where to put the food, etc. She told me when they’d be home and reminded me how to get into her house.
And then she gave me the security passcode “in case you accidentally set off the house alarm and you have to tell the security company.”
We all know where this is going, right?
The first day went off without a hitch and I was feeling pretty confident in my cat sitting skills. Smug, even. One could even say I was wearing a Cheshire cat grin but one would roll their eyes at such a bad joke.
The second day found me at a wine tasting with other friends and, late into the day, realizing that I had, in fact, forgotten to check on Pumpkin and Ginger.
I tried to keep the panic at bay as I rushed over to my friend’s house, all the while chastising myself. “You had one job and now the cats will have starved.” It was a cat-astophy in the making.
I arrived to my friend’s home and it was dark. I fumbled with the garage door code and, remembering my friend’s instructions, I quickly tried to enter their house code.
And I kept messing up the combination.
I had 45 seconds to get it and dammit, IT WASN’T ENOUGH, PEOPLE.
And I started to swear. Loudly. Because those damned numbers were small and panic does nothing to help you focus.
The alarm started blaring and, in that moment, the two cats came rushing to the doorway to see what happened.
As the alarm screamed that I had now become an intruder, the phone began to ring. Not knowing where the light switches were, I stumbled through her kitchen, uttering expletives the entire way. Loudly. In my haste to get to the phone and thwart an arrival of half of our town’s police department, I left the garage door wide open. Wait for it, people….
I dove for the phone and answered, “OmgimnotanintruderimsupposedtobehereOMGthecodeis……pleasedontsendthepoliceholyshit”
After I’d convinced the nice security lady that I was, in fact, allowed to be on the premises, I hung up and resisted the urge to drink all of the available vodka in my friend’s house.
It’s a good thing I found out after the fact that my entire tirade was audio taped the minute the alarm went off. The security firm is probably saving my audio for their office Christmas party. “Remember the time that asshole set off the alarm and used every expletive in the book? C’mere, Earle, you gotta hear the tape.”
My apologies to the security firm. Or, you’re welcome? Ahem.
Anywhoo, I managed to find the food, divvied it up as directed and brought it to the pantry as Pumpkin came prancing in to eat.
And that’s when I saw the open garage door.
And I realized that I couldn’t find Ginger.
This is the part of the story where I tell you that I made a decision when I realized Ginger had gone on the lam. I was going to find that cat and if it meant crawling into every recess of my friend’s home, than so be it.
I army crawled through her family room, looking under couches.
I lifted dust ruffles in every bedroom.
I investigated closets, corners and behind every goddamned piece of furniture in that house.
And then it dawned on me.
Ginger might be outside.
This is the part of the story where I tell you I had the nervous shits in my friend’s bathroom. The thought that I had been irresponsible enough to actually lose someone’s family pet was just too much to bear. And my bowels couldn’t take the feline frenzy one more minute.
I spent an hour looking outside, with my phone as a flashlight, hissing, “Here kitty, kitty” because that seems to work in the movies.
Turns out, cats don’t come running when a panicked, hormonal over 40 woman is traipsing through wet grass and getting bitten by mosquitoes yelling “HERE KITTY KITTY PLEASE COME HERE BECAUSE OMG I CAN’T CALL HER AND TELL HER I LOST YOU.”
I had become a bona fide cat burglar. And it was not all it’s cracked up to be, trust.
After my exhaustive search, I faced the fact that I’d have to call my friend. I managed to reach her as she and her family were having a fancy dinner in a fabulous restaurant.
As I spilled the story out, tears flowing down my face, my friend was very understanding. Well, as understanding as you can be when your friend has just called to tell you that she’s lost one of your family members.
She assured me that it was fine, that the cat was probably “somewhere in the house” but I couldn’t let myself off the hook.
I sat in her house for two hours, quiet as a mouse and waited.
Finally and ever so slowly, Ginger sauntered into the family room.
She eyed me up.
I stared her down.
As we eyed each other quietly, it was as if we mutually agreed that neither of us would discuss my histrionics and that she’d never pull these shenanigans again.
As she slowly meandered to her food, I felt confident that Ginger will keep my secrets.
But I’m not sure Earle from the security firm will.