I fell in the toilet this morning. If I were 12, I’d take my tiny little texting fingers and tell my friends, “HDPSD,” which in texting language means, “Husband Didn’t Put Seat Down.”
I’ve always wondered why most consider it the husband’s responsibility to flip the toilet seat back down. Some women yell at their husbands when they leave it up. But I imagine it’s the same women who talk about their husbands as something you train, like a monkey or a seal. Me, I usually don’t say anything —until I fall in the toilet. Then I usually exclaim, “WTF?!”
Admittedly, I was a little pre-occupied this morning. There was a “Fish” sighting yesterday evening around sunset, a few blocks from the boardwalk, and I was rushing to get back over there. I had a plan: I packed a bag with some smoked salmon — one of her favorite dishes — a small plate, and some additional flyers with her photo on them. I walked around the blocks where she was seen sprinkling little pieces of lox on the sidewalk and near places where she could get under someone’s porch, all the while calling, “Here, Fishy, Fishy. Here, Fish.” My fingertips stunk like fish by the time I was done.
I brought the little plate with me in case I saw her and wanted to lure her over. No sense in having her eat off the ground. It was, after all, smoked salmon. I also brought a pair of rubber contractor’s gloves with me because an internet site I found last night said cats lost outside may scratch and bite even their owners when they try to go near them. They advised heavy gloves. I didn’t have any.
Truth be told, Fish would scratch and bite before she was lost. Our friend Gary, our neighbor Jan, our contractor, Dominic, the appliance man, Earl, they have all left our house with a slight laceration, usually on the arm or hand. The problem was, Fish was so darned cute, you had to pet her. She was a fluffy Maine Coon Cat. I keep describing her to people by saying, “If you had a cat you’d want to use to dust your house, this would be it.”
She was shaped like a pear or a bell, so when she would lay on her back — which she did all the time — she looked like the McDonald’s character, Grimace. But if you went to pet her, slam! She would snap shut on your hand like a bear trap, biting and scratching at the same time. She was like the sirens who would sit out on boulders in the middle of the ocean singing beautiful songs, luring in the sailors, whose boats would then smash against the rocks. When Fish would lay on her back, showing off that matted gray underbelly on her little bell-shaped body, she was almost impossible to resist. When I played with her, I would wear oven mitts.
I drove down to the block where Fish was sighted last night and canvassed the area, looking for Fish and looking for anyone who might have seen Fish. And as I did this, I left small pieces of smoked salmon all along the way. Until last night, the conversation with neighbors would go like this:
“I think I saw your cat!”
“She was walking right along the street there,” they’d say, pointing.
“Did she have white paws?”
“Yeah!”” they’d say, thinking they were making my day.
“That’s Ginny’s cat. Fish was solid gray,” I’d say, trying not to look too profoundly disappointed. They already felt bad enough.
But last night, as I stapled a flyer to a utility pole by the ice cream shoppe, half a dozen people watched me and read the flyer over my shoulder. I told them about Fish. Yes, she’s gray. Puffy tail, yes. Like a skunk. No, all gray. Little fleck of beige on her nose. Will she let you pick her up? I pause. It’s critical. I need them to hang on to her til I get there. “I’d pick her up by the back of her neck,” I said. I’d seen Bruce pick her up like that. Her little fists would go inert when he did that.
I walked away from the ice cream shoppe toward the boardwalk, and about five minutes later, I got an excited call.
“We saw your cat! She walked right by us!”
“Fluffy tail, right?”
“Yes. Real fluffy.”
“Yeah, she walked right down the middle of the road by the ice cream shop and then took a left on that first block there, with the two blue houses, one on each side. She headed toward the beach,” the man said.
“Thanks so much,” I said. Bruce and I ran over there and walked up and down the block about 10 times, calling her name, putting up more flyers, asking people if they’d seen her. No luck.
When I went over there this morning, I found someone else who’d seen Fish last night, on the same street at about the same time. So now I’m waiting for that time of night again when the sky turns orange and people wear white linen and walk barefoot on the sand, and cats afraid of the day begin to prowl the night.