If you're anything like me (and who on Earth wouldn't want to be? Har-dee-har-har!), what you could use right about now is some good news. After all, it seems like all you ever hear about these days are murders and wars and hurricanes and plane crashes and drugs and child abuse and crooked politicians. It's getting so bad, sometimes you have to ask yourself, "Isn't there any good news anywhere?"
Well, Jeanketeers, get ready, 'cause Dr. Jean is here with her own prescription of—what else—good news! But, before I get to that, I've got to tell you something that may bum you out. But don't turn that page: By the end of this column, it will get better... a lot better!
As you may recall, my beloved kitty Arthur died shortly before Christmas last year after choking on a Pinchers The Lobster Teeny Beanie Baby. I was inconsolable for weeks, because Arthur was just the sweetest little fuzz-fuzz in the world. They're right when they say losing a pet is like losing a member of the family. Even if my own mother had died, I don't think I would have mourned her as much as I did Arthur. Arthur gave me soooo much love and companionship, and all he ever asked for in return was a warm place to sleep and a little food. And, unlike my mother, Arthur certainly never tossed my things out on the sidewalk because my jean jacket smelled like pot, even after I swore up and down that I never tried any and was only with some people who had.
In the days following Arthur's passing, people kept asking me if I was interested in getting another kitty. And the answer was always the same: no! Arthur was just about the best friend I'd ever had. Replacing Arthur would be like trying to replace the actress who plays Reva on Guiding Light—inconceivable!
Everything Arthur did was so special: the way he basked in a patch of sunlight on the floor; the way whenever he cleaned himself, he'd always wash his paws first, then his face, ears and body; the way he rubbed up against me and purred when he wanted to eat. I mean, there was simply no other kitty like him! Not even my other kitty, Priscilla, whom I love very much, could fill the enormous void left by Arthur's passing.
Having to drag myself to my data-processing temp job at SouthCentral Insurance while I was deep in mourning was no picnic, either. They really should let people take leaves of absence when their pets die. Instead, you're expected to act like nothing happened and go on with your life when you're nowhere near ready to deal with the world.
Often, out of the blue, I would start bawling right at my workstation, usually in full view of everybody. At first, people were very nice about it, and my supervisor Doris would let me go to the sick room and lay down on the cot until it passed. But after a week or so, she stopped letting me go because one day, she caught me reading People in there. But it was already in the sick room, and it had an article in it about Dylan McDermott. Grieving or not, who wouldn't read that? (Rowrr, rowrr!) Anyway, word must have gotten around about the magazine incident, because from that day on, everyone would ignore me when I had a crying episode. They probably thought I was faking it for attention or the chance to slip away from my computer for a few minutes, but that only goes to show how removed they are from real human feelings! (It's just as well that I got fired a few months later: That office could be really impersonal, and that's not a healthy environment for anyone!)
Anyhoo, your old pal Jean normally isn't very religious, but sometimes things happen that are so incredible, you just know God has to be behind them. Or maybe, since God is probably very busy, a couple of His angels! (Can you tell I'm a big Touched By An Angel fan?)
It happened one afternoon about two months ago. I was driving home from the Pamida, and as I pulled into the driveway of our apartment complex, I discovered that someone had taken my parking space, and all the other spaces were filled! Fuming, I pulled back out of the driveway and searched for a spot on the street. But there wasn't a single one to be had on the entire block.
Finally, I found a spot about four blocks away from my apartment, across from this vacant lot that had a big pile of trash in the middle of it. I got out of the car and started lugging my purchases. (Of course, this would have to be the day I bought a 20-pound bag of kitty litter!)
I began to walk away from my car when I thought I heard some sort of crying noise. At first, I thought it was a baby in some nearby house. But as I started walking, I realized the sound was coming from the trash pile. My blood ran cold. Could someone have left a baby in the trash, like one of those teenage girls you see on the tabloid shows who don't realize they're pregnant and then give birth and, in a panic, abandon the baby? I walked over to the trash pile and circled it until I zeroed in on the source of the noise. Filled with dread, I carefully lifted up some soggy old pieces of cardboard and scraps of vinyl siding.
I couldn't believe what I saw next!
Under the cardboard, huddled on top of a filthy old piece of carpeting, was just about the cutest kitty I'd ever seen! He had long, orange fur with tabby markings and was licking a moldy old pizza box. He wasn't one bit startled by my intrusion. Instead, he just looked up at me with his enormous green eyes and said, "Meow?" It was like he was asking me who I was! It was soooo precious!
"Hey, little fella," I said. "Whatcha doing, scratching around in all that garbage?" He meowed again and walked over to me, rubbing against my leg. I bent down to pet him, and he purred like crazy.
That did it! "You're coming home with me, little guy," I said to him. So I tucked him into my jacket, zipped it up and made my way home. (Guilty as charged for being an absolute sucker for furry little feline faces! But in this case, I don't think any jury would convict me!)
He was definitely an adult cat, but he was so dirty and scrawny, he reminded me of one of those sad little kittens with the big eyes in those paintings! Well, I vowed, this would be the luckiest day of this kitty's life, because from here on in, he would get plenty of TLC, Jean Teasdale-style!
(If you haven't guessed by now, my good news is that I got a new cat!!!)
The first thing I did when I got home was prepare a nice, big dish of yummies for the kitty, since he was obviously starving. But since I promised myself that this kitty would get only the best, I decided to go one better than Friskies or Fancy Feast: cotto salami and grated cheddar cheese! It's a treat I used to give Arthur when he was very, very good—which was often! I've never understood why my veterinarian has a problem with me giving my kitties human food. If it's so bad for them, why do they eat it? (And from the way that poor, hungry kitty ate it up, I knew he wholeheartedly approved of my treat!)
I couldn't help misting up a little. I realized how selfish I had been by mourning Arthur for so long, particularly when there are so many kitties in the world who need good homes. It was then that I thought maybe this was a lesson from God or one of His angels about the preciousness of life. I mean, judging from the way I found him, there's no way this could have been a mere coincidence!
Well, I've had the kitty for nearly two months now. And it's almost like he's been replaced by another kitty, because he looks almost nothing like he did when I first found him! Thanks to my love and care (and with no interference from some smarty-pants vet), he's all plump and healthy now, and almost looks like Arthur did when he was at his biggest! I was going to name him Miracle, since the way I discovered him and nursed him back to health was like a miracle. But I changed my mind when I realized just how much he resembled a certain sassy comic-strip feline... so I named him Garfield! After all, he's chubby like Garfield, and when I found him, he was licking an old pizza box, and pizza is kind of like lasagna, Garfield's favorite food! Isn't that just perfect?
Unfortunately, there's one member of the Teasdale household who isn't crazy about having Garfield around, and it's not Priscilla. Yup, you guessed it—my crabby-cakes hubby Rick! Every day, that mean old ogre has a new complaint or insult about precious, defenseless little Garfield: "There's no way in hell I'm sleepin' on this bed with that fleabag"; "No, I'm not gonna kiss him"; "That thing's breath smells like a garbage dump"; "What's with that pus oozing out of his eye?"; "You sure that swollen belly of his isn't some kind of giant tumor?"; "My God, I've never seen turds like that come out of a cat before." (I'd include more of Rick's lovely remarks, but my editor would have to put black censor blocks over them! Sheesh!)
Well, let that old grouch whine his heart out... Garfield is here to stay! In fact, I just celebrated his two-month anniversary of being here by buying him one of those hilarious vibrating gorillas that dance to that song they play at the football games that goes, "Rock and rooo-oll...Hey! Rock and roll!" So far, Garfield has been kind of shy around his new toy, but I'm sure he'll be snuggling up to it soon! And we're all ready for Halloween, too: Did you know they now make Halloween costumes for pets? They're soooo darling! I dressed up Garfield in a mini-witch outfit, and I just about died of laughter! I've got it tied on tightly enough that it can't come off, but the crazy little guy keeps trying to squirm his way out of it anyway!
Well, hope you enjoyed my good-news prescription! I'd love to tell you more about Garfield, but, unfortunately, I gotta run. I'm off to the Pamida to pick up some Reese's peanut-butter cups, Butterfingers and Mounds bars for the trick-or-treaters. (And for your old pal Jean, too!) So, from Garfield and myself, have a Happy Halloween! (Or should I say Meow-oween?)