Weekly Shocks' Blog

A Cat and The Rat

A cat first:


Indeed. I think I’d kill a man with my bare hands for a Brigham’s hot fudge sundae with chocolate ice cream and lots and lots of jimmies on it right about now. And some good sushi, too, actually. And pizza without corn on it. And bacon, real bacon, not the English stuff, which is just thinly sliced ham masquerading as bacon. And salad. And clam chowder.

Maybe I should eat lunch instead of drooling. Hmmm.

On to The Rat. My niece turns eight today. I affectionately nicknamed her The Rat four or five years ago for reasons I no longer recall. (You may not find a nickname like The Rat affectionate at all, but in my family, it is the pinnacle of warmth and love to give one another nonsensical and/or mildly disturbing pet names that are hugely embarrassing when revealed to non-family members. And they are revealed, as often as possible.  My dad, for example, called me Tin Can until I was 13 when I begged him to stop because friends of mine were convinced that was my actual name.) I only have one niece and in my family she’s also the only grandchild, so, perhaps predictably, she’s spoiled rotten and a complete and total ham. I love that kid: she never fails to make me laugh. I also feel hugely guilty about being away from her on birthdays, which always, always occurs. Even when she was born, I wasn’t really there. Not totally, anyway. Three days before her birth, I had half of my thyroid unceremoniously ripped out of my throat (my doctor prefers the PC phrase “surgically removed,” but I know what that man did to me) and replaced with a tube that drained all kinds of liquid nastiness into a little plastic bag I wore around my neck. There were also many, many industrial staples involved. And lots of painkillers, too. God bless painkillers. They didn’t work in the sense that I no longer felt any pain, but rather morphed my sense of reality into concluding that pain wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in the first place. Why worry about the mild ache I feel in my throat, for example, when the walls are bleeding and no one sees it but me? Also, pain isn’t all that big a deal when the internist assigned to removing your staples has a third arm growing out of her chest and is easily ten feet tall with a voice like Darth Vader.

I didn’t do well on heavy-duty painkillers.

Anyway, when my niece was born, I hobbled in to see her and my sister and, perhaps due to the aforementioned hallucinations, I wasn’t at my most polite, or even my most coherent. My niece was born with a full, gigantic head of hair and I remember feeling profoundly disturbed by this. “Why does she have so much hair? Is that normal? What the hell is wrong with this kid?!” Probably not the best things to say to my older sister who had just experienced child birth for the first time and wasn’t especially impressed with my ‘on too many painkillers’ excuse. Regardless. My niece is, of course, an adorable child, but I will always be haunted by the fact that my first impression of her was that she was a massively hairy runt of a thing, a baby werewolf, perhaps, or a Wookiee. I’ll be paying for that guilt the rest of my life, believe me.

Happy birthday, Rat, I love you lots! Your check for seventy million dollars is on its way! If it bounces, please don’t call the mob like you did last time: the bruises have yet to heal!


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