Monday, April 09, 2007

Stormy Weather

Once, when we were in high school, our next-door neighbors’ dog had puppies. The puppies managed to dig a hole in the fence and would occasionally take advantage of the escape route to come visit us. We would try to do the neighborly thing and return them from whence they came (after playing with them, of course). The goal was to scoot them back through the hole and then block the hole with a large rock or some other obstruction. But as soon as we managed to get one wriggling, licking puppy back under the fence, another one would run out before we could put a block in place. If you were by yourself, it was a difficult, if not impossible, task. You’d get stuck in this seemingly never-ending loop of putting a puppy through a hole in the fence.

The other night, I had a shortened version of that game when I tried to put my cats in the closet under the stairs. I guess it was fortunate that the cat-in-the-closet game kept my mind occupied so that I didn’t have to think about the reason why I was putting the cats in the closet, which was the fact that the tornado sirens were going off.

I should say that tornados really freak me out. If you don’t live in a place where they occur with any frequency, let me just assure you that it’s not a fun time when you hear those sirens go off. The problem is that it isn’t like a hurricane or some other situation where you have some sort of days-in-advance warning. You get a few minutes, if you’re lucky. That just freaks me out. Also, almost no homes in the area have actual basements, so the best you can do for safety is an interior closet or bathroom.

So anyway, I grab Gabby, because she’s the closest, and put her in the closet, managing to shut the door before she has a chance to recover and dash out. I’m a little stressed, because I’ve lost some time trying to decide if those were in fact tornado sirens I was hearing, but at that point, I’m not too freaked because, as I said, I’m concentrating on the task at hand. Then Wally was easy to grab, for reasons I cannot understand. Maybe he thought it would just be Gabby going into the closet? I don’t know. Anyway, I grabbed him, opened the closet door, and sure enough, Gabby goes running out. I tried to use Wally and myself to block her path (something Wally did not appreciate), but we were unsuccessful in our efforts. Out she ran.

So I placed Wally in the closet, shut the door, and ran after Gabby. The loss of one of her legs has made no noticeable difference in her speed. She dashed into my room and into my closet. She didn’t seem to find any irony in her choosing to hide in a closet so that she could avoid being put into a closet. I dashed into my room after her, and just then the phone rang. I don’t know why I felt compelled to answer the phone, but I did, without checking the caller I.D. This I never do, but for some reason, at that moment, I did, maybe because I just assumed that during a tornado warning, only family members call. Naturally, naturally, it was a telemarketer or some bill collector.

Me (eyeing the closet into which Gabby has run): Hello?
Caller: . . .
Me (a little impatiently): HELLO?
Caller: Is Mr. . . . Nolan there?
Me: I’m sorry youhavethewrongnumberI’msorrybutIhavetogobye. [slams the phone]

Such a waste of time. Anyway, thankfully, I was able to toss my mountain of shoes out of the way in the closet and pry her loose from the carpet. I got her downstairs without too much protest (which is itself a miracle because cats have the inherent ability to protest very successfully with the use of their back claws) and into the closet. Wally tried to run out –as did Gabby–but I was expecting it, and I body-checked them. They retreated into the back of the closet and I sat down.

About then I notice that I needed to go to the bathroom. Why is it that you always have to go when you just don’t have the option? Anyway, I’m sitting there, trying not to think about waterfalls or tornados, when I think to myself, ‘this is where we keep all our tools.’ Then I have the more specific thought, ‘this is where we keep our saw,” and I look up and see the saw directly in front of me at eye-level, tooth-to-eye, as rr described it (she was in class at the time so was of no help to me). I’m trying not to think about it when I notice the cats are at the door and are making efforts to pry the door open. They have been successful at this in the past, so I get up and try to put myself between them and the door. They are not interest in moving. I try poking them with a stick. They don’t move. Gabby hissed at me. I yelled and hissed–yes, hissed–-back at her. She moved, but I think more out of annoyance than fear. Wally just looked at me with his big eyes, all hurtful, as though to indicate that he doesn’t understand why I’m hissing at him and he’s very sad about it. He does finally move but settles down next to me and continues to stare at me, big-eyed, waiting for me to do something mean that he doesn’t deserve, because clearly that’s how this evening is going. You and me both, pumpkin.

I called my mom at this point so that she can look at the weather map for me and tell me if in fact, yes, a tornado has been spotted in the area and the people who control the sirens aren’t just messing with me. She helps a little bit by saying yes, tornado, but probably not right in my neighborhood. More like where rr was at that moment.

I’m sitting there, not thinking about having to pee, and trying not to think about rr being stuck somewhere scared to death, when I notice that Wally is doing that staring-at-the-door-trying-to-figure-out-what-that-noise-he’s-hearing-is thing, and I start trying to remember, is it tornados or earthquakes that cats know are coming before people do?

I sat there staring at him staring at The Unseen, about to officially commence the feeling of dread that I’m convinced you feel just before you die a horrible death (not the dread of death, more like a feeling of “really? This is how I’m going to go?”), when my mom calls me back to tell me it’s all clear in my area. I stayed in the closet there a little longer while I made my mom check and then double check that the tornados and indeed the entire tornado-producing part of the storm had moved out of my area, which she took for a mild panic attack but which was actually me knowing that if I let the cats out the door I’d never manage to get them back in that night. The whole process probably took about 20 minutes, but it felt like forever.

Then rr called and told me all was well in her neck of the woods as well. So we’re all still here and accounted for.

Oh, yeah, and day before yesterday? It frickin’ snowed. What the heck is going on around here?


RR said...

You're a better pet owner than I am. When I was home alone with the cats and we had a tornado blow through town, Gabby ran out of the closet towards the end of the warning period, and I just let her go. Sad, I know, but I wasn't willing to risk leaving the closet.

Emma Sometimes said...

Tornado sirens would unnerve me fast but I think I would pee before settling in the closet. I'd hate for the undertaker to see I had wet myself. Now isn't THAT a lovely thought.

Okay, seriously, that is scary but snow a day later? Tell me that is El Ninos fault.

Amstaff Mom said...

Hope you and the cats are safe today, because it looks like we will "have weather" again today.


The siren is right by my house, but it puts no fear in me. It only went off once - last year, when our fence posts were twisted and ripped up. I wanted stand by the window and watch, but hubby wouldn't let me. Instead, the 3 of us stuffed ourselves in our potty room. I'd rather have been in the closet!