Thursday, June 28, 2007

Of Cats and Kids and Scientists Who Aren't, cont.

The meme of 8 continues relentless onwards.
3. I once had a carpeted nail factory. I found out why they don't carpet nail factories. Nail makers are a ton or so of cast iron and machined steel which gobble wire from a reel, slam the end into a head, pull the wire forward to length, and pinch the nail off forming a point and two bits of scrap which fall onto a chute to slide into a box. It has more than the average number of pieces and moving parts. All of them are greased. Copiously. 'Fred', as I called my machine in a spirit of impure animism, arrived at my door all but invisible. Rather I appeared to have a couple of barrels of grease -- without the barrels. Two and a half hours under a steam cleaner revealed the iron, painted a dove or Navy grey, and plain steel.
After some months a Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman called to offer a demo of the Kirby's rug shampooing abilities. I jumped at the chance. The salesman jumped away from the offer just as soon as I showed him Fred's carpet.

4. I have traveled. I have lived and worked in Japan and many states and at least set foot in all but three of them: Arizona, New Mexico and Hawaii.

5. Dylan the Dirty Dog. A housemate was Dylan's first person. She named him for Dylan Thomas, of course. If she wanted to name him after Bob Dylan she would have called him Bob. She took him with her to NYC to a job. Being a young tough, Dylan promptly forgot his gentle Southwestern Ohio upbringing, acquired a Bronx cabby's thick mode of speech and an invisible Taxi cab. Unable to stand his howling and spraying -- this was summer in the city -- Ellen would open the window to allow his escape. Days later Dylan would return looking worse than this:Ellen would grab a can of spray Bactine, point it in his direction, turn her head and close her eyes and spray.
Back in Ohio Dylan adopted Diana and I when Ellen had to move where cats couldn't go. We moved him to Connecticut and then to Washington State. We drove across country in a black VW Squareback called Beulah Witch after the Burr Tillstrom character. Dylan and the other cats were penned into the very back and would howl ceaselessly from the moment we started until about fifteen minutes before we stopped for the day. We camped in Shoshone National Forest. When Beulah Witch's back hatch was opened to let the cats out for dinner Dylan, like a flight from a long bow, shot straight and true deep into the woods. We were horrified that we had lost him. About twenty minutes later he traversed the reverse trajectory at almost the same speed. We thought he had met his match. But the next day as we passed through Yellowstone National Park his plan for our entertainment bore fruit. Traffic slowed to a stop - crawl - stop - crawl. Finally we turned a corner to see the obstruction: a seven or eight foot brown bear panhandling from car to car. Ha-ha, very funny, I told Dylan as I furiously cranked the window closed. The bear looked in, briefly, as if to say cheapskates!, and we all moved on.
Arrived in Spokane, Dylan quickly established his dominance where ever we went. Still there were times when his opponent poisoned the scratch leading to an abscess, or 'puff'. When these required a trip to the vet, Dylan would return with a shaved paw as if stripped to his tee shirt.
Dylan mellowed. A bit. His favorite bit of wisdom to pass on to the kits was: "With all the unhappiness there is in the world, why can't everyone be a brick... Like me!" Bruce Beal of the Art Department at Eastern Washington State documented Dylan's visage and bon mots thusly in a limited edition print I commissioned for Diana's birthday one year:
Dylan was one of the early cats to succumb to the newly discovered feline leukemia. At that time cat's blood had yet to be typed. We tried a transfusion from Dylan's son. It was not a match. Just afterwards I held Dylan in my arms at the vet's office when I suddenly became aware that the room was very bright, very noisy, and my heart seemed to beat very fast. I covered Dylan's eyes to moderate the brightness which made the vet notice that all was not well. Dylan died. I believe that in his penultimate moment Dylan and I achieved an empathy, rare in this world, that allowed me to get an inkling of his experience of the world.

more to come ...
, ,

No comments:

Post a Comment