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Where did we leave off in the last installment?

We had just left the warm comforting bosom of our hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, I believe.

It was a morning full of promise.  The sun was out and it was a lapis sky (which only exists in the mind’s eye and on Kodak prints), the birds were chirping gaily (or so it was reported to me by Cruel Wife since I couldn’t and cannot hear a bird unaided if my life were to depend upon it), and in the distance, masked by the scent of trepidation from our near-prescient kitty, was the future-stench of bowels as-yet unloosed.

Stretching out before us was a crossroads of sorts.  Had we smelt our kitty more closely we might have turned south and kept going, stopping only when we hit the Gulf of Mexico.  Or, we might have turned north and fled to Canada, home of watery Canadian Bacon Beer, which should be called “ham beer”.  Had we fled to Canada the odds are quite high that we’d have turned around and come back for lack of interesting things to do there, but we might have gone the scenic route before fleeing towards the southern border.

But we did not smell our kitty more closely, and this changed our lives.

New Rule #8:  Always, always, always smell your kitty before embarking on a journey.

Because we did not smell our kitty and thus missed the prescient miasma about his furry personage, we chose the eastern, i.e. towards Michigan, road.

I would love to tell you the following:  That the Goose Lake State Wildlife area was beautiful, that Rock Lake was pristine and unsullied, that parts of Waukesha were quaint and that I had found a great hot dog joint there.  But I can’t tell you any of that because I’ve never been to those places.  I told a little white fib for theatrics earlier, because we did turn south at the crossroads in Madison but we only went as far as we needed to go in order to follow I-90 into Chicago.

What is sad about the route that we took is that I remember absolutely nothing about it beyond the intense fear we experienced.

They say that it is not uncommon to lose the memory of events leading up to an accident or a traumatic event.  It is here that things get a bit hazy beyond a 100 foot radius (the distance in which you just barely have time to say “OhJesusMaryMotherofGodIdon’twanttodielikethisandpleasekeepfromscreamingandshutthecatup” if you say it really really fast like I did, fifty or sixty times)

New Rule #9:  Drug the cat before entering Chicago unless it is in a crate in the back of the truck.

New Rule #10:  Drug the wife before entering Chicago unless she is in a crate in the back of the truck. Drugging the wife and putting her in a crate in the back of the truck is not an option that should be left unexplored.

New Rule #11:  Double up on Drixoral™ before entering Chicago so the Shadow People that you hallucinate can read maps and navigate for you.

We came southward on I-90/94 with the intent of driving through Chicago in a straight-shot.  I didn’t see a single piece of Chicago since we were coming through it at A Very Bad Time.  By “A Very Bad Time” I mean during a busy period combined with lots of road work.  It was a reasonably hot day and we were doing a lot of necessary but tedious stop-and-go but then the highway opened up for us.  The cat was restless, we were restless, and also restless were many many other cranky drivers.  It wasn’t very long before I found myself behind a semi – and we were all driving very fast at this point.

The cat started to get fluffy.  I glanced down just long enough to see his eyes and pupils were the size of dinner plates at the Hungry Heifer.  Cruel Wife was making a strange noise that fell between strangling and keening.

I embraced (frantically clutched at) my inner child, got in tune with my feminine side, and got way more in tune with my surroundings.  I was at maximal situational awareness because we were now in “heightened circumstances” that were quite beyond our control, viz, we were now boxed in by four enormous trucks and traveling well beyond the speed limit while going around a fairly noteworthy curve.  Silver d’Cat was trying to be helpful, pointing out things that I could do as safety measures but all that was really getting through to me was something that sounded like “Mrrreooowww, hisss, mreeeow, fttttt, hisss, mrrrreowwwrr” but I can’t really be sure.  He repeated himself several times and got louder each time but I couldn’t really hear him over Cruel Wife speaking to me in tongues.  It seemed that she was speaking not only in several voices at once but also in at least two additional languages (most alarmingly, they seemed to be dead languages).  It was exceedingly difficult to please her in this instance (more so than usual) because all of her hand instructions were contradictory – slow down, speed up, turn on your blinker, don’t move, stop, use your vertical thrusters (huh?), build a campfire, lay a new course of tiles, and (my favorite) invent something *quick*.

Ever smelled the combination of cat fear, sour gym sock sweat, diesel exhaust, and particulates from truly leviathan† truck tires that are near immolation?  It is nauseating.  It’s worse than the combined scent of wildflowers and shame. If you were to roll all those scents and materials into little balls it would make a hell of an herbicide.

A quick note here.  I am referring to “Leviathan” in the sense used by Hobbes, not a sea creature but the concept of something so much bigger than one’s self, a construct of great enormity.  Otherwise in the context of a truck-as-sea-monster it just sounds silly unless it is a truck full of fish-sticks or octupi, not that those two things aren’t rather silly in their own right.

Smells are just not something you need to add to your sensory overload at a time like this.

New Rule #12:  Utilize something like Mentholatum™ as a prophylactic when entering into a situation that is going to involve Odors of Amply Sufficient Vileness.

Let us step outside of events briefly, shall we, Constant Reader?

If we were to freeze the moment, we could walk up and survey the scene in a relaxed and objective fashion, so we’ll do just that.   We might learn something, and we might learn nothing – life is sometimes like that but at least we will be able to say that we made the attempt.  What would we see?  Would it touch us on some deeper level?  Would we be amused?  Disgusted?  Fearful?  Let us see…

We would see a cramped truck cab with two fearful young adults, one male (sweaty, driving), one female (clawed, shrieking), one feline (felis domesticus, yowling), and no fewer than twelve Shadow People that only existed in the mind of the young man behind the wheel of the vehicle because of his cold medicine.  We could stand with our backs to the doors of the truck and reach out and touch the dusty trailers of the semi-trucks to either side.  Four or five healthy strides forwards or backwards would bring us to the trailer doors or grille of the trucks fore and aft.  Sad, endearing, and perfectly understandable would be the small fluffy cat with large panicky eyes as he is frozen in the act of burying his head under the young woman’s arm.  A violent localized squall may be seen through the bug-spattered windshield as a mass of papers and junk food wrappers swirling around the cab and out the half-open windows.  Neither the young man or woman looks happy and the small fluffy cat is clearly beyond help at this moment in time, having taken leave of his senses.  The young man is chewing on his lip hard enough to bleed and he has a large set of veins throbbing at his temples and forehead.

And suddenly it was over.  The roaring of the trucks receded in this distance.  The sound of a mortally terrified Silver d’Cat died off slowly.  The sounds of Cruel Wife choking on self-contradictory instructions ceased.  All that remained was the panting of three exhausted souls.

Note: If you were thinking that the loosed-bowel remark at the beginning of this story was a literal placeholder for events to come I am pleased to disappoint you – no bowels were voided on that day except in a completely voluntary fashion.

What did we learn?

New Rule #13:  Never drive a small truck through Chicago with a cat of any breed.

And then the details of the journey got fuzzy again.   We were all dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in varying degrees and would be for some months to come (cat psychologists are rare and almost prohibitively expensive, by the way).   The next thing I personally recall was passing Kalamazoo.  It was then that I either started humming Hoyt Axton’s Cat from Kalamazoo or I started running it through my head over and over.

It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake
And a cat named Kalamazoo
Left the city in a pick-up truck
Gonna make some dreams come true

Of course then our story deviates wildly from Axton’s song because we were heading east, neither Cruel Wife nor I have ever had or ever will have a dog named Jake, Silver d’Cat wasn’t from Kalamazoo, our cat didn’t stay cool, and I’m not evil, just a sociopath.  But the tune was catchy and stuck with me.

Two hours later I got out of the truck, kissed the ground with emotion, even to the point of slipping it the tongue (and got a phone number from it – don’t tell Cruel Wife).   We threw the cat in the apartment, and we took off in search of some cheap comfort food.

Thus concludes the three-part story Driving to Michigan with a Drugged Cat in the Truck.

The fate of the Dramatis Personae: Silver d’Cat lived another twelve years, Cruel Wife has not killed me in my sleep yet in spite of the fact that I snore like an asthmatic donkey (her words), and we continue to live in Michigan.

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Dirty Dozen

I grew up watching Bronson, Marvin, Eastwood, and other tough guys with my dad. The Last Detail with Nicholson.

Point is I learned from him that some ideas don’t fit in standard orthodoxies but are equally valid. That honor and truth can come from anyone, are exceedingly rare when things get really bad, and that some ideas are worth dying for. Good lessons to learn from your dad.

I am watching the Dirty Dozen right now and it is one of my favorite movies. Hell in the Pacific is another one.

Good movie, the DD.

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Unbearable Joy.

Quote for the day:

May a bloated yak change the temperature of your jacuzzi.  – The Great Carnack

****

On our journey through the NW a few weeks ago, we stopped by the home of a fellow who I consider a good friend of many years, who you have heard me call SCSSP (Six Cans Short of a Six Pack).

He isn’t crazy, per se, but he’s… unique.  He taught me how to make my first spud gun.  He taught me that it is completely possible to take a drag on a cigarette while chugging a beer at the same time.  (Do not ask me how – I do not know)

He is the fellow who, during day #3 of a huge party at my sister’s house one year, helped me to finish off a bottle of rum.  The folks hanging out just opened up the hide-a-bed in the living room, threw us on it after we passed out, and kept partying.

So we woke up (blearily) the next morning and my sister said quietly “So…WHAT DO YOU GUYS WANT FOR BREAKFAST???”  She hollered that last part very loudly, in case you wondered.

So SCSSP, who is extremely quick and nimble on his feet and only grows more so when drunk, like Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati, immediately went into deep thought.  Trust me, we were still drunk.

My stomach roiled and churned.  I had a bad taste of the ‘zactlies’ in my mouth, where your mouth tastes ‘zactly like an old tractor tire with critters living in it.  I was… not well.

SCSSP belted out “MAD DOG™ AND FRUIT LOOPS™!”

I blanched, then turned green.

My sister ran out without hesitation to purchase some Mad Dog™ and Fruit Loops™.

She returned a while later with some Mad Dog 20/20 Wild Plum Supreme™ and a box of Fruit Loops™.   If you don’t know, MD 20/20™ is an unbelievably horrible wine made from grapes that did not live well.  They only ferment after rotting and then are aged – sometimes as much as six hours – and then much sugar and “fortification” is added.  It is a rancid swill in the best of times and worthy of Hell at its worst.

SCSSP opined that not only should my sister bring us both a bowl of Fruit Loops™ with Mad Dog 20/20™ instead of milk, she should also bring us coffee-cups full of the stuff after nuking it in the microwave to just long enough to bring it to steaming temperature in order to “bring out the bouquet”.

I vowed to never let them see me sweat and dug in with gusto and quaffed the cup full of vile liquid in one draught.  It made the room lurch and spin but after a bit I felt right as rain and ready to go again.  I wasn’t ready to start drinking so early in the day so I stuck with beer until 11:59am and switched back to rum (I hate being bound by social conventions).

So anyhow, SCSSP has a wife who is really really nice and I met her for the first time.

I saw a pic of her as a kid (and surreptitiously snapped a shot of it) and it kind of explains how she fits SCSSP in temperament, I think.  I have attempted to protect the identity of those involved.

What you see is a girl who is rather unhappy that a deer antler is getting in the way of what would be a nice pic of her on her bike.  Poor dear.

****

From the You Can’t Make That Stuff Up files:

Lab tech parties with escaped monkeys

University employee found with pants down, monkeys roaming free

Relax.  The monkeys were given a rape kit and found to be ok.  The tech, however, is still being correctly regarded as a majorly disturbed pervert.

I love the article where it says:

A Georgia Health Sciences University lab tech was recently discovered in a campus locker room engaging in unusual behavior.

Really?  What behavior, exactly, tipped them off?

****

Only in Nepal… Nice, quiet Nepal…

A farmer in Nepal reportedly turned the tables on a venomous snake who bit him, chasing down the deadly cobra and biting it to death.

Source:  Fox News
Oh.  Okay.

[The farmer] then chased the snake down and bit it repeatedly.

“A snake charmer told me that if a snake bites you, bite it until it is dead and nothing will happen to you,”

Right.  I guess I knew that.  Of course… duh.  And all this time I’ve only been returning the bites of cobras one-for-one.

****

Update:  Civilization as we know it is as doomed as the Romans.  Dog shaming online.  Oh yeah, that will show Fideaux or Fifi… they’ll boot up, check out Tumblr, and tuck tail and run.  Serves them right.

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The main post is below this impromptu Lemur Life Story…

aliceteach over at DPUD has a great post about Frank Miller for Toddlers.  That won’t make sense if you haven’t seen Sin City, but go watch the movie she put there.

My comment there was:  At least at that age you can say “Oh, look at the funny looking rubber ball!” and almost (sometimes) get away with it.

It reminded me of a time in college when my roommates and I, in a fit of boredom and an innate desire to be obnoxious (alcohol may have been a factor), crafted in the dark of night a (anatomically correct) 7 or 8 foot tall (erect) male phallus-thing.  The wording was chosen to avoid certain Google searches .

We poured bucket after bucket of water on this thing and had a layer of ice that was inches thick over the whole thing.

The next day we got pictures of each other sitting on one or the other of a pair of giant testes, and I had one of myself sitting there, proud as can be, complete with the full-arm cast I had for several months.  Shown below is a very good friend from those college days, and we’ll call him… OldEnglish800… for reasons which I will not divulge at the moment.

OldEnglish800, feeling teste, face blurred for his own good.

Women were driving by our house and every few minutes a car would honk and chicks would yell “Whooooo!”   It went on for hours until someone got cheesed and called the cops.  We denied that it was ours and the cops decided to get in a workout with their clubs.  They were extremely tired after trying to break several cubic feet of ice with nightsticks and had some firefighters come and loan them some axes.  They were not too happy with us, but as future events unfolded we became much more closely involved with them.  They had our number.   That’s another story.

I took the picture back home for the Christmas holiday.  The family was laughing over it and my grandmother comes in and says “What’s so funny?”

Immediate silence.  A hush came over the room as we all panicked and thought as one, “What the hell is the right thing to say and could someone else please say it so I don’t have to?

It got kind of awkward after about ten seconds with the ten or twelve of us sitting there as if we were Bambi frozen in the middle of the road by the Pork Chop Express’ lights.

The pressure was building… building… and suddenly my aunt jumped up explosively and said “LOOK MOM!  HERE’S A PICTURE OF LEMUR SITTING ON PART OF A GIANT SNOWMAN!  Isn’titsillyhowhe’soutinthesnowandcoldwithoutaproperjacketandthatcastuncovered?”  Then she started hyperventilating, gasping for breath.

We held our collective breaths, waiting for the moment that our almost-octegenarian matriarch would figure it out and come unglued.  Believe me, a 4′ 11″ matriarchal ungluing is not something you want to witness more than once in your life.

She turned to me, looked me squarely up and down, frowned, and said “Lemur, why are you going out in the winter without a coat?  You could get pneumonia!”

I shook my head in shock and said “Well, Gram, I don’t know what I was thinking.  I guess I was so excited about building a snowman I forgot it.  It only got down to 8F that day so it wasn’t like it was viciously cold.”

My Gram walked out of the room muttering about how terrible I was taking care of myself and again, as one, ten or twelve of us went for our drinks and had doubles.

Goes to show you – octegenariansn and toddlers can be easily deceived at times, but you can’t depend upon it.

****

Now, for the original posting material…

Titled:  Oh.  Yeah, this means goodbye, I guess.

Harold Camping, Doomsday Priest, has apparently stuck by his prediction that Tomorrow (Friday, October 21, 2011) will be The Day We Die.

Don McLean sings softly in the background:

Did you write the book of love,
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?

I’m pretty sure that the Rev. Camping has not cleared his bank account or sold his house yet again, despite the rather obvious need to spend money like there was no tomorrow in order to save the last few souls.  I’d say if he is enlightened as he says he is, it shows a remarkable lack of faith on his part when you look at the record of his behavior.  I’d also say the good Rev. Camping never actually read the Book of Matthew.  Just sayin’.

I started singin’,
“bye-bye, miss american pie.”
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.
“this’ll be the day that I die.”

But, wait… the old fella suffered a stroke (but didn’t die) in June, which seems awfully soon after The World That Refused to Die Event (May 21st, 2011).  Does that not seem like a pretty convenient way to shutter yourself away from a world full of derision, mockery, and in the case of the gypped people, betrayed anger?

Yup!  It does to me, too!

Yeah… I hear what you’re saying, Camping, but no offense… you’re a f***ing loon.

And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

When you look at all  the nice well-intentioned folks (but stupider than a bag of hammers) that gave this screwball all their money and gave away their savings and gave up homes, it becomes obvious that another part of American Pie would seem to fit the good Rev. Doomsday.

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage.
No angel born in hell
Could break that satan’s spell.
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

Don’t read anything into this.  I just really like the song and I thought it would be fun in conjunction with mocking the Doomsday Priest, is all.   I’ve often wondered what McLean meant in the lyrics but I don’t obsess about it.  It’s a catchy tune.

I was a Jim Beam man, after Tanqueray Gin, of course.  I don’t like Rye though.  Blech.

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Update:  Headline over at Drudge:

NYC hit with bedbugs, stink bugs - now lice...

Wait a minute… are we talking New York, or Washington D.C.?

****

Note:  Sorry for the delay in posting this final installment.  I just plain haven’t felt “swell” or “peachy” enough to post.  In fact you could use my expression for how I’m feeling… “Never better.”  This was freshly proofed by my captive proof-reader, Intahx E-cated Ho‡, using Dark Jedi Mind Powers.  Long live the Republic!

‡ Not the proofer’s real name.

Where did we leave off in the last installment?

We had just left the warm comforting bosom of our hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, I believe.

It was a morning full of promise.  The sun was out and it was a lapis sky (which only exists in the mind’s eye and on Kodak prints), the birds were chirping gaily (or so it was reported to me by Cruel Wife since I couldn’t and still cannot hear a bird unaided if my life were to depend upon it), and in the distance, masked by the scent of trepidation from our near-prescient kitty, was the future-stench of bowels as-yet unloosed.

Stretching out before us was a crossroads of sorts.  Had we smelt our kitty more closely we might have turned south and kept going, stopping only when we hit the Gulf of Mexico.  Or, we might have turned north and fled to Canada.  Had we fled to Canada the odds are quite high that we’d have turned around and come back for lack of interesting things to do there, but we might have gone the scenic route before fleeing towards the southern border.

But we did not smell our kitty more closely.

New Rule #8:  Always, always, always smell your kitty before embarking on a journey.

Because we did not smell our kitty and thus missed the prescient miasma about his furry personage, we chose the eastern, i.e. towards Michigan, road.

I would love to tell you the following:  That the Goose Lake State Wildlife area was beautiful, that Rock Lake was pristine and unsullied, that parts of Waukesha were quaint and that I had found a great hot dog joint there.  But I can’t tell you any of that because I’ve never been to those places.  I told a little white fib for theatrics earlier, because we did turn south at the crossroads in Madison but we only went as far as we needed to go in order to follow I-90 into Chicago.

What is sad about the route that we took is that I remember absolutely nothing about it.

They say that it is not uncommon to lose the memory of events leading up to an accident or a traumatic event.  It is here that things get a bit hazy beyond a 100 foot radius (the distance in which you just barely have time to say “OhJesusMaryMotherofGodIdon’twanttodielikethisandpleasekeepfromscreamingandshutthecatup” if you say it really really fast like I did, fifty or sixty times)

New Rule #9:  Drug the cat before entering Chicago unless it is in a crate in the back of the truck.

New Rule #10:  Drug the wife before entering Chicago unless she is in a crate in the back of the truck.

New Rule #11:  Double up on Drixoral™ before entering Chicago so the Shadow People that you hallucinate can read maps and navigate for you.

We came southward on I-90/94 with the intent of driving through Chicago in a straight-shot.  I didn’t see a single piece of Chicago since we were coming through it at A Very Bad Time.  By “A Very Bad Time” I mean during a busy period combined with lots of road work.  It was a reasonably hot day and we were doing a lot of necessary but tedious stop-and-go but then the highway opened up for us.  The cat was restless, we were restless, and also restless were many many other cranky drivers.  It wasn’t very long before I found myself behind a semi – and we were all driving very fast at this point.

The cat started to get fluffy.  I glanced down just long enough to see his eyes and pupils were the size of dinner plates at the Hungry Heifer.  Cruel Wife was making a strange noise that fell between strangling and keening.

I embraced (frantically clutched at) my inner child, got in tune with my feminine side, and got way more in tune with my surroundings.  I was at maximal situational awareness because we were now in “heightened circumstances” that were quite beyond our control, viz, we were now boxed in by four enormous trucks and traveling well beyond the speed limit while going around a fairly noteworthy curve.  Silver d’Cat was trying to be helpful, pointing out things that I could do as safety measures but all that was really getting through to me was something that sounded like “Mrrreooowww, hisss, mreeeow, fttttt, hisss, mrrrreowwwrr” but I can’t really be sure.  He repeated himself several times and got louder each time but I couldn’t really hear him over Cruel Wife speaking to me.  It seemed that she was speaking not only in several voices at once but also in at least two additional languages (most alarmingly, they seemed to be dead languages).  It was exceedingly difficult to please her in this instance (more so than usual) because all of her instructions were contradictory – slow down, speed up, turn on your blinker, don’t move, stop, use your vertical thrusters (huh?), build a campfire, lay a new course of tiles, and (my favorite) invent something *quick*.

Ever smelled the combination of cat fear, human sweat, diesel exhaust, and particulates from truly leviathan† truck tires?  It is nauseating.  It’s worse than the combined scent of wildflowers and shame.

A quick note here.  I am referring to “Leviathan” in the sense used by Hobbes, not a sea creature but the concept of something so much bigger than one’s self, a construct of great enormity.  Otherwise in the context of a truck-as-sea-monster it just sounds silly unless it is a truck full of fish-sticks or octopi, not that those two things aren’t rather silly in their own right.

Smells are just not something you need to add to your sensory overload at a time like this.

New Rule #12:  Utilize something like Mentholatum™ as a prophylactic when entering into a situation that is going to involve Odors of Amply Sufficient Vileness.

Let us step outside of events briefly, shall we, Constant Reader?

If we were to freeze the moment, we could walk up and survey the scene in a relaxed and objective fashion, so we’ll do just that.   We might learn something, and we might learn nothing – life is sometimes like that but at least we will be able to say that we made the attempt.  What would we see?  Would it touch us on some deeper level?  Would we be amused?  Disgusted?  Fearful?  Let us see…

We would see a cramped truck cab with two fearful young adults, one male (sweaty, driving), one female (clawed, shrieking), one feline (felis domesticus, yowling), and no fewer than twelve Shadow People that only existed in the mind of the young man behind the wheel of the vehicle because of his cold medicine.  We could stand with our backs to the doors of the truck and reach out and touch the dusty trailers of the semi-trucks to either side.  Four or five healthy strides forwards or backwards would bring us to the trailer doors or grille of the trucks fore and aft.  Sad, endearing, and perfectly understandable would be the small fluffy cat with large panicky eyes as he is frozen in the act of burying his head under the young woman’s arm.  A violent localized squall may be seen through the bug-spattered windshield as a mass of papers and junk food wrappers swirling around the cab and out the half-open windows.  Neither the young man or woman looks happy and the small fluffy cat is clearly beyond help at this moment in time, having taken leave of his senses.

And suddenly it was over.  The roaring of the trucks receded in this distance.  The sound of a mortally terrified Silver d’Cat died off slowly.  The sounds of Cruel Wife choking on self-contradictory instructions ceased.  All that remained was the panting of three exhausted souls.

Note:  If you were thinking that the loosed-bowel remark at the beginning of this story was a literal placeholder for events to come I am pleased to disappoint you – no bowels were voided on that day except in a completely voluntary fashion.

What did we learn?

New Rule #13:  Never drive a small truck through Chicago with a cat of any breed.

And then the details of the journey got fuzzy again.   We were all dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in varying degrees and would be for some months to come (cat psychologists are rare and almost prohibitively expensive, by the way).   The next thing I personally recall was passing Kalamazoo.  It was then that I either started humming Hoyt Axton’s Cat Named Kalamazoo or I started running it through my head over and over.

It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake

And a cat named Kalamazoo

Left the city in a pick-up truck

Gonna make some dreams come true

Of course then our story deviates wildly from Axton’s song because we were heading east, neither Cruel Wife nor I have ever had or ever will have a dog named Jake, Silver d’Cat obviously wasn’t named Kalamazoo (duh), our cat didn’t stay cool, and I’m not evil (only in moderation).  But the tune was catchy and stuck with me.

Two hours later I got out of the truck, kissed the ground (literally), we threw the cat in the apartment, and we took off in search of some cheap comfort food.

Thus concludes the story Driving to Michigan with a Drugged Cat in the Truck.

The fate of the Dramatis Personae: Silver d’Cat lived another twelve years, Cruel Wife has not killed me in my sleep yet, and we continue to live in Michigan.

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Where were we?

We had just left Hardin, Montana – Little Bighorn territory – meaning that we had escaped the wary and watchful eye of Cruel Wife’s grandmother behind us.  This part of the trip was different since all we had in terms of familial relations between us and Michigan was Silver d’Cat.

Silver was getting by in a stoic manner.  He wasn’t happy and really was about as stiff as if we’d spitted him on a long chunk of rebar, but he was a cat – how relaxed could 99.9% of cats be when driving for long distances away from anything remotely familiar?   He was mellowed out relatively speaking, when measured against his response to the beginning of the trip.  I firmly believe his little cat meows were saying “Fine, I’ll behave, just don’t pill me again.”

We were heading south on I-90 towards Wyoming when it hit me (as it has done many times since)… “Settlers killed indians for this? ” It was just one long expanse of pretty country, but what comes with that territory is extremely harsh winters, hot summers, no A/C, no CVS pharmacy, and no coffee shops.  How did they survive in those primitive conditions?  One wonders.  Staying in character, the Shadow People said nothing and shared nothing with me that was enlightening.

Another side note:  Cruel Wife wasn’t exactly pleased that I was experiencing these little “sensory enhancements”, i.e. The Shadow People, and I don’t think I was, either, but it was better than sneezing twelve times in a row (truly “A River Ran Through It” was occurring in my sinuses) and doing spontaneous four-wheel drive sessions.

We hung a huge left at Buffalo, Wyoming and beelined east, stopping for an extremely hot and windy break in Gilette – a roadside turnout where there was no one to hold our camera and take a picture.  The cat didn’t have opposable  thumbs and wasn’t interested in photography anyway.  It was much too hot that day so we walked around but never too far from the truck just to make sure the cat was resting peacefully.  He didn’t seem to mind it.

This was the part of the trip where I was watching the cat closely.  I checked his leash for signs of being chewed through and I could not find stockpiles of squirreled-away food, but I felt that he required close observation anyway.  I did not want to have to track a Himalayan through the wildlands of Wyoming.

Satisfied that all was as it should be we got in the truck and continued down the road.  Again, I said to myself “They killed indians for this?

We consulted with the cat and then unanimously decided that we should swing north and go by the Devil’s Tower.  I distinctly remember being so excited to see it that I was about to pee myself (I don’t get out much).  We got closer and it kept getting bigger and bigger.  The cat wasn’t impressed but we were in awe of the sheer size of the thing.  Close Encounters of the Third kind did not do it justice even on the big screen.

Earnest Question:  What are Close Encounters of the First and Second Kind like?  Is this similar to dating?  I’ve never really understood the logic here.

It was shortly after this that Silver licked his paws clean of what he considered to be a total farce and meowed that from here on out we should not even bother to ask him what he thought about our route.  This made life simpler as you can imagine.

New Rule #6: Keep the cat out of trip planning.  It saves time and is far less annoying to not hear “Well, you can count me out, man” all the time.

Mount Rushmore was neat.  If you want to read all about it, go look it up or even better, go see it for yourself, but I just don’t have the energy to wax eloquent about it.  It was big.  How is that?  It was big.  Four big guys.  Four big stone guys.  There, my duty is fulfilled.

Let me be absolutely clear:  If you don’t drive across this country at least once, you will have no idea how freaking big it is.  We were seeing signs for Wall Drug(store) for many many miles before actually getting to Wall, SD.  I had no appreciation for how little we’d actually come.  Yes, we were about halfway, but we’d been driving for a long time over the last few days and… it just kept going and made the Energizer Bunny™ look like an amateur.  Soon we were driving through the northern part of the Badlands and it was kind of forbidding.  Forbidding is not a warm fluffy blanket – forbidding is a bed of nails, a bad section of town, the promise of splintered bones grating against each other, or the angry glare of a furious wife.

Wall Drug in Wall, SD.  How shall I describe it?  Shall I be gracious?  Shall I be caustic?   Dry and objective?   I think I shall break with tradition and tell the truth.

Wall Drug was a letdown.  After the string of signs for a hundred miles designed to work me up into a lather I expected everyone to have wings on, big pearly gates, and the sound of harps strumming from every corner.  Instead it was crowded, touristy, amazingly huge, and not even a teeny-tiny bit interesting to me.  I don’t care for crowded places.  Smells and the obnoxious people that went with them, most with a total lack of situational awareness, and lots of rude maladjusted kids running around wasn’t blowing up my skirt.  This was Wall Drug in all it’s gaudy and flashy glory.  Yah.  Hoo.  Cruel Wife liked it but my skin was crawling.  I’m sorry, I wish I could say nicer things about it.   Actually, I don’t.  It was what it was.

Ok, moving right along, folks – nothing more to see here – keep moving.

Cruel Wife was getting pretty tired by this point.  It had been nine hours not counting stops from when we left Hardin, roughly.  Nine long hours in a Jeep (they don’t drive themselves, you have to constantly watch them as if they were rebellious teens) and our butts were developing bedsores.  The cat was getting pissy(er) than he had been and I was thinking I’d either give him Drixoral™ or another kitty downer but then thought better of it.  I took the Drixoral™ instead and I decided I wanted to press on after we ate some dinner and so we drove another three or four hours.  I was Captain Robo-Dex, master of the known universe, and a milepost-eating god.

I finally had to throw in the towel when we came to Mitchell, SD because my vision had slipped back and forth between double and treble (which is an important symptom, I’m told).  Everyone was happy to stop, and the cat even squealed and clapped his paws in sincere rejoicing.  We found a rather unremarkable hotel and crashed there for the night. I might be the only one but I find that hotels the world over (except for The Lennox in Boston) have this atmosphere of bone-weary exhaustion that isn’t all that much less pervasive than the mood at a funeral home.  Cheerier than a funeral home, granted, but a pervasive stillness always settles over the building.

I might not have mentioned this, but my large red toolbox came in with us at night, and it weighed whatever a quadruple hernia weighs.  Two or three suitcases, a cat carrier, a kitty litterbox, kitty food, the royal kitty water bowl, a kitty, a quad-hernia toolbox, and Cruel Wife’s Special Pillow came in and out with us when we stopped.  Going in and out of the hotel may not have risen to the level of an Augean Stables task but it was a real hassle and again my Shadow Folk were nowhere to be found.  Less than zero when you’re in a bind, those Shadow People.  The only thing that stayed in the truck was the recliner.

New Rule #7: Do not travel with a toolbox that weighs enough to give you quadruple hernias unless you like the idea of surgical procedures designed to keep your innards from falling out.

And we were off the next morning a few hours before the crack of noon.

South Dakota is a very nice place, full of nice people to be sure, but I was so glad to be over the state line.  It was a mental hurdle, a huge milestone to overcome.  We consulted our AAA map (provided by my employer) and saw that we had a long way to go still and that thought effectively catapulted my milestone off in the direction of the Badlands.

Minnesota was pretty uneventful up to the halfway point when we went through a dust-storm kind of thing where the sky and air all around us was tinted an eerie red color.  It wasn’t right and honestly it made us Northwesters a bit nervous.  The cat was already nervous so we didn’t see any noticeable change in his behavior.

We fell in love with Wisconsin though.  Crossed over the Mississippi River (God what a miserably long and redundant name that is) and came into LaCrosse.  We screamed by Sparta and did a power slide into I-94 on the way to Madison.  What was beautiful about Wisconsin?  Gosh, all of it.  For me the memorable features were parts of it that looked like certain sections of the Cascades in Oregon (Hwy 138 on the way to Diamond Lake from Roseburg, if you care) and it had hills and stuff that South Dakota was lacking in places.

We ended up in Madison that evening.  We had a hotel room all ready, I moved all of our stuff inside, and we decided to get some food.  Silver d’Cat demurred, meowing simply “You can count me out, man.”

In our travels through Madison we found the Red Pepper restaurant and had some General Tso’s that makes me weep to think of it even this day a decade and a half later.   I remember a crispy egg roll that was stuffed with love and manna.  And we experienced a hot and sour soup that defies description beyond saying that it too has made the remainder of my life seem as wispy and ephemeral as a fading daydream in comparison.

Perhaps it was because I was freaking starving.

Perhaps the trauma of the Chinese food in Montana was reaching through the heavily roped-off sections of our subconscious and we simply looked for healing there, without knowing what it was that we did. Perhaps the reality was that it wasn’t good food.  I honestly don’t know.  What I can find online says that it is permanently closed, which makes me a bit sad.

Outside this restaurant we got our first exposure to The Onion in printed form – it was in a little newspaper box next to the “alternate lifestyles” flyers.  I’ll try to post it if I can find it.  It is lying around here somewhere.  My favorite article ever is the that first one that I saw: “Doritos Celebrates it’s One Millionth Ingredient”.

We laughed and read The Onion that night at the hotel and skritched our sulky kitty until it was time to turn out the lights.  There was a big day ahead of us, and we had no idea how ill-prepared we were for the adrenaline-pumping experiences that were to come.

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Note:  Cruel Wife will undoubtedly remember things a bit differently so this story may evolve a bit as I am corrected.  Some of this is embellished a bit, yes.  The places and people are the same.

Cruel Wife and I lived in Washington. We met, we dated, my life was over before I knew it. I proposed, we killed time, and we got married.

The End.

Not really, no.

Just after we got back from our honeymoon I got word that I was in a last round of layoffs. It was not an auspicious beginning.

After looking for work for months – and I mean months – I found a job in Michigan. I flew out to begin my new job while Cruel Wife finished her degree (she analyzes failures for a living, mostly mine), and then a month later I flew to Washington to meet up with her and then move the last few items “back east”.

For a Northwest person, anything east of Boise is “back east”. To a Northwester, moving within 100 miles of Detroit is a death sentence or consignment to Hell, whichever seems worse. It varies from individual to individual.

We loaded up my truck with what little was left to move and set off from Pullman, Washington (Cruel Wife is a Cougar – no, not that kind of Cougar). It wasn’t easy. We knew we’d be leaving behind good coffee, friends, family, good coffee, the beautiful Northwest, good coffee, Taco Time™, and real seafood.

For my part I was going to miss Taco Time™ the most.

For Pete’s sake, you didn’t believe that, did you, Faithful Reader? It was coffee. And seafood. Again, you believed that? Okay, okay, friends and family.

We had suitcases, my toolbox, a big medium-sized recliner, and a cat carrier. With a cat.

Let’s focus on the cat for a moment.

Silver d’Cat was a Himalayan, which is cat fancier-speak for “cat with a really flat face”. When Cruel Wife and I were dating early on, Silver (short for Silver Streak) d’Kitten would nap on my chest when I napped on the couch. It was an equitable trade. He used me and I got points with the girlfriend. He was a pretty cat, never really a big cat, and one of the kindest little kitty hearts you can imagine.

Silver d’Cat two years later, with a new name and identity, now an unhappy cat in a cat carrier on the seat between us, in a jeep. Not one of us was happy, and Silver and I were competing to see who could be the most annoying in voicing our annoyance. The vet had given us a bottle of pills to give to Silver, ostensibly as a mild sedative, but there was one teensy problem, and at first blush you might not think it was a problem and your mind would move on to other matters, oblivious to certain realities.

The pills were about one inch in diameter. The cat’s throat was about 3/16 of an inch in diameter, less if you were trying to give him a pill. This was a problem. This is the rough equivalent of fitting a hippo into a VW bug. It’s also a good deal noisier. With every limb straight out, every hair on his body standing on end, his claws fully extended, and his eyes the size of dinner plates we would tackle him and force this giant pill down the Maw of Death, my pet name for the beginning of Silver d’Cat’s alimentary system.

I realized right away that he and I could not share these pills – they damn near killed the cat, so why would I want to subject myself to that? Instead, since my allergies were really bad, I stuck with Drixoral™, which causes me to see Shadow People and that made the drive much more interesting when I was behind the wheel. If one were to glance at the instructions on the package and actually read them for comprehension, one would see:

Warning: Do not operate heavy machinery while taking this medication.

This was no problem since the Jeep classifies as a light truck. So went my reasoning.

Fifteen minutes after the first pill, Silver stopped yowling in a screeching tone and more in a druggy-screeching tone. Cruel Wife informed me that she’d take a look and see how the little guy was doing.

“HE’S FOAMING AT THE MOUTH!!!” blasted into my right ear, shredded the already spongy-matter that comprises the greater share of my brain, out of my my left ear, and left stuff that was really hard to clean off splattered against the driver’s side window. The Jeep screeched to a halt as I locked up the brakes and stopped on the side of the road. The journey of thousands of miles starts with but a single panic attack.

We drug druggy-yowling Silver d’Cat out of his carrier (getting him in was like putting toothpaste back in the tube) and decided that he wasn’t happy outside the carrier now.

It was early on in our relationship and I had not learned that most of the time you’ll do a whole lot better if you never say anything. “Oh yes, he’s foamy all right. Hey, you could use this stuff as shaving cream – it’s got body to it. What? What’d I say?” Or something unintelligent like that. That was the first look Cruel Wife had ever given me. It was awful. I felt my flesh being stripped from my bones, my marrow crumbled to dust, and my testicles blackened and fell off. It was readily apparent that this was her baby. She had no sense of humor or tolerance in this area.

New Rule #1: Do Not Mock Cruel Wife’s Baby Even if It is Furry.

We decided as a couple (ahem) that he did not need to ride in a carrier but would have a leash and ride on the seat between us. Carrier went in back and we drove on.

Olfactorily I am the canary in the coal mine. After a while I said “What’s that smell​​?” The smell was enough to peel the paint off the inside of the cab and Cruel Wife knew it was there as soon as I did. It was all the grittier smells of a tannery, a pulp mill, and a chicken farm with chicken-poo lagoons and they were emanating from the cat in little kitty burps (Cat Burp Bombs – CBB’s) that came out with the froth running down his chin. Make no mistake: Our cat was stoned and he passed David Bowie, Jim Morrison, Sid Vicious, and Jimi Hendrix on his way out of the solar system. I thought perhaps that I could chew up little bits of one of his pills at a time but then figured my drooling/foaming and CBB’s might tip off Cruel Wife. Well, I still had my Drixoral and my Shadow People friends.

Silver’s effluent also had this inorganic chemistry smell to it – sharp, unfeeling, lead-pipe cruel – and after a while we’d made it through Couer d’Alene, across Idaho in no time at all, then Lolo Pass in the Bitterroot mountain range. By the time we came out of the mountains we’d had enough of trying to sneak bits of fresh air and avoiding CBB’s so we made the command decision.

New Rule #2: No Drugs For Himalayans Riding in Jeeps.

Silver was in full agreement with this rule. In fact he co-authored that bill and you can still see his foamy little footprints all over it.

Montana was pretty big, pretty, and incredibly boring after a while. I said “Well, I know what will help pass the time.”

New Rule #3: No Beer in the Truck No Matter How Boring it Gets. Even if You are Passenger.

Mumbling “I don’t see how ‘happily ever after’ is even going to happen…” Cruel Wife gave me the look again and said sharply “WHAT?” as we swerved almost imperceptibly. My Shadow People friends all screamed “SHUT… UP!” Wise people, those Shadow Folk.

We spent the first night in Livingston, Montana with her relatives. I drank some beers and tried to stay out of the way. I did get a tour of a local laser manufacturer, which was pretty cool. I was itching to get going though so we said our goodbyes and took off, bound for Hardin, Montana to see Grandma. Cruel Wife’s grandma.

Update:  In Cruel Wife’s words…

Only one correction of note. We stayed in Livingston, MT the first night. Can’t forget that. My cousin tried to pawn her son’s iguana off on us. Now LK and I both think iguanas are cool critters (which had led to the offer since she was trying to find it a new home), but two (semi) adults, one unhappy cat, AND an iguana in the cab of a Jeep would have upset the balance of the universe. Global warming a decade early. Meltdown of the global economy. Dog and cats living together in sin. You get the idea. Seeing all these ghastly ramifications, we politely, but firmly refused.

Montana is a big place and we had driven a fair distance. Cat on the seat, Cruel Wife and I swapping off, and the Shadow People in the back and hanging off the sides of the truck. We got into town fairly late in the afternoon. We planned on spending the next day there and leave the following morning.

Cruel Wife’s grandma went through major depression era hardships. We’re talking NOTHING got wasted. NOTHING. “That old milk box can be chewed up for extra fiber. ”  “Toilet paper has two sides, you know!”   “Tuna cans make good candle votives as long as you use the fat rendered from roadkill.”

“Spaghetti” really means noodles with a can of tomatoes, lots of bacon grease, and whatever else is lying around – “You just scrape the mold off it and it’ll be fine. Really, Lemur, it was good last week. So what if the vegetables have split open and are moving around by themselves and eating bugs and small animals?”

New Rule #4: Eat What Grandma Provides Even if You Wouldn’t Feed it to Diseased Mutant Pigs.

The next morning dawned bright and clear and as is my usual custom I ignored it completely, opting to sleep in as long as I could. At some point the plan evolved into a “Let’s get a tour of the town.” Grandma drove and it was… it… it was traumatic. It was like being eviscerated with a grapefruit spoon.

Montana’s speed limits were pretty lax at that time and we screamed up the on-ramp and skidded onto the freeway at times topping 40 mph and averaging about 35 mph. I was in the rear seat and turned around to see a truck perilously close to us and getting closer with every beat of my now-arrhythmic heart. The grille loomed in my vision and seemed to extend for miles to each side of us. I could count and identify bugs on the front of the truck’s bumper, which was at eye level. I squeaked “Cruel Wife… Cruel Wife… Cruel Wife… Oh please oh please go faster…” While I was tapping frantically on her shoulder she turned around and said “Grandma, you’ve got to go faster!”

“We’re going to die,” I whispered quiety, unheard by a single living soul.

To Cruel Wife Grandma replied “Oh, no, I don’t like to go too fast.”

New Rule #5: Never ride with Grandma again. Ever.

We were very near the location of Custer’s Last Stand and I began to wonder if we wouldn’t be joining him soon. The semi truck lurched sideways and forward to pass us as if we were standing still (which we very nearly were). A few fear-filled miles later we pulled off the highway and visited what I believe was billed as the “Combine of Death Capitol of the World”. It was an entire museum devoted to the celebration of farming equipment specifically designed to mangle people in really scary ways. I swear half the equipment was protected from the elements not by paint but layer upon layer of dried blood.

Hardin, Montana is not a large town, a little bit over 3000 people if you count the people waiting at the bus station. We got the five minute tour and then Grandma suggested that we get Chinese food for dinner. I don’t remember what I ate but I do remember looking at it with slowly dawning horror as I realized that it probably had come from a can bought from the local grocery store. You know you’re getting authentic Chinese food when the waitress asks if you want ketchup with your meal. I choked it down and smiled wanly at Grandma, saying “Mmmm… good.”

Visiting the gathering hall we met many nice ladies there who were charming and warm which was funny to me because Grandma wasn’t exactly the most huggable lady in the world, if you get my drift. We stayed there long enough for my lips to stick to my dried-out teeth from holding a smile and for my eyes to start throbbing as I tried to at least look like I was engaged in the conversation. And then we stayed some more, probably as much as two more hours. I very nearly cried with relief when we left.

Another uneventful night passed and we were on the road by ten that morning ready to experience the rest of our trip.

(next, Part II…)

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Old News:  Oldcatman has posted a special message to me and others on his blog!  Yay!

He gave us a big finger, I heard.  He’s so cute when he gets his panties in a wad.  No, no, don’t go over there, you’ll just give him better stats.  Act casual.

If you’re known by the enemies you keep, I’m a happy camper.

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