I had cataract surgeries in December. My eyesight is still bleary. For the first time in my life my near-vision is foggy and sketchy. Words on a computer screen or in a book swim and fade. Words are my addiction. Not being able to write or read comfortably is akin to making an alcoholic take those little white pills that make them throw-up after they drink. Because they will drink. Just as I will read and write. It’s just that much of the enjoyment has been stolen.
Last night was New Year’s Eve. Two minutes after midnight, the old dog, Chesty, wanted out to limp around the yard and give the occasional bark at the neighbor’s fireworks thunder. The old boy needed to let the world know that incontinent, stove up with arthritis and half-blind as he was, by God, he was still in charge of his world. Jack already had his apnea machine cranked up to Darth Vader. I was in bed reading a very bad book by a very famous author. (It didn’t matter so much that the words swam and blurred. The writing wasn’t that great to begin with)
I got out of bed and let Chesty outside to do his old dog version of a new year’s strut. The covers had just touched my toes as I climbed back under the quilt to stay warm when Chesty began to bark. Anyone who has a dog knows that they have many different barks. This bark was not a Happy New Year bark. This was the equivalent of a mad barroom roar. “I’ll get you, you son of a sailor.”
I cussed some. Which broke one of my resolutions less than two minutes into the year. I kicked off the covers, scrambled out of bed, slipped on leggings and slippers, grabbed the mini-flashlight kept on the kitchen counter for just these occasions, pulled my heavy coat from the closet, and raced outside buttoning as I ran. By then the barks and yips and howls had escalated to the doggie equivalent of, “I’ll rip your freaking head off and . . .” Well, you get the idea. Chesty was riled.
The narrow beam of my palm-sized flashlight located the problem. A fat gray cat perched temptingly on the top edge of our rickety fence. Chesty, directly below the stupid cat, is too old to jump, but he contended himself with lifting his head high and snapping at the tail that hung on our side of the six-foot wooden structure.
Well, hell. Double hell.
Best thing to do was to just push the damned cat into the neighbor’s dogless yard. That seemed an easier and quicker maneuver than moving a 150 pound arthritic and extremely agitated dog. I was stomping across the frozen grass. I admit this. Adrenaline propelling me toward the trouble-making cat and barking dog with no thought but to give the damned cat a quick and hard shove and bring the dog inside where there was a heater and warm bed.
Don’t think. Just push. That’s what I was thinking.
The cat’s fur was bristly. Her face sort of pointed and she was making a hissing sound like none I’ve ever heard a domestic cat make before. The rest happened in the proverbial blink of a post-cataract-surgery-induced-blurred eye. My face, by this time, was inches from that of the hissing cat. I blinked. Noticed for the first time that the tail hanging down into our side of the yard was long and pink and hairless. Blinked again.
Rang in the New Year not with paper horns and pointy hats and champagne but with a resounding shout of, “I fucking hate possums!”
May your new year be filled with joy and blessings. Me? It looks like, once again, I’m going to live another year in interesting times.