I’ve mentioned before (here) that my family used to have a charming (but wily) cat named Tony. I also mentioned that we were the neighborhood cool kids who purchased a harness and leash for her and would walk her around the back yard.
After realizing that she couldn’t possibly be limited to the 4-food radius that the leash allowed, my dad rigged up some freedom for her in the form of a fishing line that attached to her harness. While sporting the fishing harness, Tony could gallop around the yard to her heart’s content and we could reel her back in if need be. It was a win-win, especially since it made us look so normal to our neighbors.
One day when I was 8 or 9 years old, I stayed home sick from school. I use the term “sick” loosely – it was probably more of a “I forgot to do my homework and I don’t want to get my name written on the chalkboard again” type of situation. After what was probably 4 or 5 hours of my mother listening to me pretend to have a sore throat, she gently suggested that I go take Tony for a walk. Outside. Where she wouldn’t have to watch me shuffle around the house, fake-coughing. I hitched Tony up to her harness, grabbed the fishing reel, and trotted outside alongside my furry friend.
We were having a grand time strolling around the yard, chasing leaves (her) and smirking about not being at school (me). Tony started to get bold and stray a little farther than normal, walking around the side of the house, but I didn’t think anything of it since she was on the line.
Suddenly the line went slack and Tony came screaming back around the house; she was tearing towards me, full tilt, and it didn’t take long for me to figure out why. The dog that lived down the street had escaped his yard and was right on Tony’s tail. I stood there, mouth agape, and took in the scene as it unfolded before me and wondered what our next move should be. Luckily, I didn’t have to think too hard, because Tony had a plan.
She leaped at me, claws out, and started climbing. You can hardly blame her for wanting to get as far off of the ground as possible, but I do wish that she had gone for, say, the tree that I was standing next to, or perhaps the back porch of our house that she had just bolted past. But who am I to judge her decision? The dog had reached us by that point, and naturally he was itching to get to Tony, but unfortunately she was otherwise occupied trying to scale my face to get from my shoulder to the crown of my head. It didn’t stop him from trying though, that persistent hound.
Between trying to get Tony’s paw out of my left eye and trying to stay upright as the dog jumped on me, I failed to pay any mind to the 40 feet of fishing line that I didn’t have a chance to reel in while Tony was booking it around the house, and I got tangled up something fierce. I was lurching towards the house while trying to break free of the web, when I caught a glimpse of the kitchen window. To this day, my mother denies the following claim, but I know what I saw. And that was my dear, caring mother, standing at the kitchen sink, looking thoughtfully out the window at her daughter.
Not laughing, not worried, just watching.
I get the feeling that I gained some points in her book that day.
I’m sure she was standing there wondering if there hadn’t been some terrible mix-up at the nursery when you were born. She was probably wondering what ever happened to our real daughter.