The Abominable Snowman
Ate apples apathetically
The ache in his abdomen
Left him feeling most atrabilious
I quite like that word, “atrabilious”. It means melancholy and bad-tempered. I know feeling atrabilious the day after Easter is probably terribly irreligious.
Put it down to a box of marshmallow Easter Eggs.
Today marks the start a month-long blogging A to Z. It’s harder to start than I thought. So, I did a little research on things beginning with A. Actually I just paged through the dictionary writing down words that appealed to me like atrabilious.
Ailuorophobia n. An extreme or irrational fear of cats
I am not an ailurophobe. I am, however, truly impressed that while Microsoft Word continues to eschew English spelling, it does actually recognise that as a word.
I am a cat person. I like their arrogance, their independence and their total commitment to finding the sunniest spot in which to nap.
For some reason though, I seem to attract not people who see a cat and run screaming in fear, but those who breathe in a piece of fur and promptly lose the ability to process oxygen.
An early boyfriend happily spent hours at my home. I may have misguidedly maligned his commitment and depth of feeling to me as I later nursed a broken heart. It turns out that far from being a cold, unfeeling bastard, the poor boy had suffered extreme torment at the paws of my beloved cat who adored him, without speaking a word. His allergies were so bad he needed to keep an inhaler in the car and had to have medical attention after every date. How sweet was that? Young love. Ahhh.
The cat in question was a Havana Oriental named Mashenka. She went everywhere with me, largely due to the fact that she was an attention seeker who would destroy my property if left alone for any length of time. So, she became a regular fixture at university, cinemas, restaurants and a seasoned motorbike rider (different boyfriend).
Friday is a chocolate Burmese, named by my son so we could say, “Thank God it’s Friday!” Friday regards any movement as a total waste of energy that could be spent napping.
As a young and feisty cat she diligently caught one bird from every species to be found in our vicinity including the neighbour’s budgie. You never know how many feathers a budgie has until you have to carefully dispose of all evidence.
Sadly, after a close encounter with a Sacred Ibis, commonly known as the Hadeda, involving a flight of some distance and a fall of some height, Friday no longer sees the point of venturing beyond the house.
Sinatra is a red point Siamese.
He, like his namesake, can only sing three chords, but his eyes are mesmerizing.
Sinatra is a classic supermodel – terribly beautiful, but not terribly bright. He is also afraid of his own shadow. And things that go bump in the night.
He does not go outside.He loathes the texture of grass under his feet and the presence of my dogs fills him with undisguised contempt.
The latest addition is a ginger tomcat who goes by various aliases including Puss, Doctor Who, Macavity and Fat Cat. I found in him at a rest stop in Harrismith covered in oil and just about fitting into my hand.
My husband’s willpower stood no chance against a small purring ball of fluff, three children with tears welling up and a wife who said he would be a cat murderer if he left without small cat in tow.
So happy is he at his fate that he allows my daughter and half the neighbourhood children to carry him around like a slightly recalcitrant Hobbes.
He is what I term a Real Cat. He prefers to be outside. He is fed at three different neighbour’s homes. And he catches rats.
The last point is where I am struck with ambivalent feelings. Personally, I believe the only good rat is a dead one. I am a musophobe – a very sterile term for my loathing and revulsion of all things ratite, including mice, rats, hamsters and bunny rabbits.
My mother maintains I must have died during the Black Plague in a previous life. I put it down to two horrifying award-winning children’s books entitled The Rat. It was so horrible, I can find no reference to its existence anywhere.
The first trick of parenting is to learn one very important lesson. Never show fear.
Children smell fear and they will capitalise on it.
At your expense.
At every chance they get.
I managed to hide my shivers of disgust at the frogs, but I could not hide the gurgling scream of horror at the rat.
My husband was in Sweden and I phoned him for guidance.
“Just leave it there and go to bed,” he said.
“I can’t,” I wailed, “I’ll know it is there.”
“What exactly do you expect me to do?” he asked gently.
I ended up closing my eyes and sweeping it out the door. Of course, it came back. They always do. Cats seem to not quite understand my inability to accept their gifts with lashings of praise and adoration.
The next day, a small voice called, “Mummy, come quickly!” I stepped out of bed on a small, warm, wet squishy thing. And I screamed. And screamed. And screamed. Three children laughed so hard they might have wet their pants.
The day after that a panicked voice yelled, “You have to come outside now! Mom!” I dropped everything, expecting arterial bleeding at the very least. I flung open the door and… a large rat was catapulted into my arms.
I know they say that the key to overcoming your fears is to face them. My husband swears by “flooding”. I don’t believe it. My kids are making sure I have to face my musophobia on a near daily basis and if anything it is just getting worse.