••• Sunday, September 24, 2006

R is for Raisin 

Raisin was a cat.
But not anymore.
Now he's dead.

When he was alive, I called him Raisin Hell.
After his unfortunate demise, he was Raisin the Dead.

It's kind of hard to know where to begin, when telling the story of Raisin. So I'll just start where I do with most of my meaningless musings: Ramble.

When I was married to that other guy, we lived a life of emotional, environmental and financial frugality. Throughout most of that marriage, I talked myself into believing that I was living a pretty good, albeit anxiety-riddled life. I had a sweet, easy-natured baby boy, a large circle of marriage-induced friends and a job that gave me satisfaction.

The one thing I knew was missing from my life back then, was a pet. Even though he grew up in a home that always included dogs and cats, my husband-at-the-time always said "no" to my request.

He said that we weren't home enough. And they were too expensive. And too messy. It wasn't until later that I realized his denial of my request was about control and more specifically my punishment for being less clean than his ideal. Okay, I was a slob. Okay, I am a slob. But a happy, loved slob.

Every once in awhile I'd get a little cocky and ask what would happen if I just came home with a cat?

His answer every time: Divorce.

This was also the response he had to my other frequent flyer, authority-testing inquiries: 1) What would happen if I came home with a tattoo? and 2) What would happen if I opened a Spiegel charge account?

::I used to fantasize about ending it all by coming home donning a fresh tattoo of a cat, paid for with my secret Spiegel charge card. Yes, I really had a secret Spiegel account. To be the first one home from work every day became my new religion.::

Just a few weeks after I was divorced and in my new place (divorce and house closing were on the same day), an adorable, black kitten found me. He was a stray, rescued from a tree on the property of my place of employment.

At first glance he looked like he was black, but in the sunlight you could see that his overcoat was actually a deep, blackish brown. Like a raisin. In a very certain light, you could even see hints of stripes.

Raisin was beautiful. And he was affectionate. And he was mine. Actually, I should say he was ours. Cam always wanted a pet and was beyond thrilled when I surprised him with this prefurred fringe benefit of what was otherwise a very difficult period in his life.

A Raisin and the Son.

The three of us soon set about building a new life together. Raisin took turns sleeping in my bed or with Cam. Raisin was quite the snuggler, with a purr that was palpable two couch cushions away.

Cam adored him, as did I.

I will admit that beyond my affection for this happy little fluffnugget, Raisin was a symbol of freedom; a defiant gloat to flaunt in the face of my ex.

::And yeah, I did kinda love it when Raisin ran to the door to greet my ex, when he came by to pick up Cam. Spiteful? No. Gleefully Defiant? Okay..::

And then one day, with absolutely no warning, our sweet little Raisin dropped his basket, lost the plot, went totally bitchcakes.

In other words, my sweetly perfect Puss de Triomphe went suddenly sour. As follows:
1) Stalked and attacked Cam when he walked down the hallway. ::Raisin was not de-clawed. Or de-pawed, as I use to threaten.::

2) Stalked and tried to attack a child on a tricycle.

3) Stalked and tried to attack any other animal he saw outside, including a Rotweiller. The owners happened to see Raisin running up on the dog, and slapped on the safety chain. Good thing too, the dog went all Raisin when he saw him.

4) When I pulled into the driveway, he would jump on the hood of the car while it was still moving, and ride it into the garage.

5) He chased people on bikes.

6) The smell of chicken made him even crazier. Raw chicken was the worst but even cooked chicken set him off. One time I was standing in the kitchen snacking on a chicken wing. I didn't notice when he jumped on the counter. Next thing, he was flying through the air, toward the hand holding the wing. He was trying to disarm me of my chicken wing. And almost suceeded.

7) I tried to train him with squirt bottles. It just made him mad.

8) I tried to train him with a super soaker squirt gun. He tried to disarm me, a la chicken wing.

9) From about 10 feet away, I once yelled at him to get off the dining room table. He looked at me like, "You talking to me, bitch?", jumped off the table, walked the 10 feet to where I stood and bit me on the foot. Swear. To. God.
Obviously, I couldn't let him around Cam anymore. I knew I needed to get rid of him, but I hated to think of putting him down and if there was a place he could be happy and alive, I'd like to find it.

In the meantime, whenever Cam was with me (we had joint physical custody, which entailed four-night weekends with his dad, every other.) the cat stayed in the basement or outdoors, until Cam was safely in bed.

To keep the neighborhood safe, I tried to keep Raisin in the house until after dark, whenever possible. He was definitely an outdoor cat with an attitude, so this was not an easy task and sometimes I caved and let him out during the day.

One Saturday, I was in the shower, Raisin was outside and Cam was heading out to the car to fetch something. Next thing I know, Cam is in the bathroom screaming and thrashing about, with a big ass black cat on his head. While Cam was nosing in the car, Raisin had entered the vehicle and, well, it was like shooting ducks in a barrel.

There I am in the shower. Naked. Trying to figure out the best solution to this unprecedented dilemma. My first concern, of course, was my son's well being. A close second in the list of concerns was how to address the issue of my son's well being without inflicting further psychological trauma by letting him see me naked.

Good thing I do all my best thinking in the shower. From behind the curtain I called Cam over, and revealing not a nip, I reached out and swiftly de-Raisined the situation.

And there I was in the shower. Naked. Holding a crazy ass, un-de-pawed cat. Fortunately for me, my cat-tusslin' skills were by now, well-honed and I got out of the situation unscathed.

Cam's father soon heard about the incident and raised a logical flag of concern for our son’s safety. As difficult as it was to do, I had to agree with him, that the situation was untenable and promised to take care of it soon.

Heh. So much for all that flaunting of my independence shit. I think I drank that night.

A couple of days later, after dark, a neighbor lady came pounding on my door. She was not happy. Raisin was in her house and she couldn’t get him out.

Of course this was a serious situation, but I had a hard time keeping a straight face as she told me how she had tried to swish him out with the broom, but he had just grabbed the broom head and rode the bristles until she dropped it in exasperation.

After that, he walked around the kitchen like he owned the place, hissing whenever she got too close. I apologized and went to fetch him.

Two days later, she was at the door again. It was pretty much the same story, except with more swearing and this time he was in her car.

At this point I realized that Raisin was deteriorating and there was no place on this Earth where he/we could be safely happy. I decided I would keep him in the house until I could get him to the vet. But Raisin had a different idea, and the next day he ran out the door when I came home from work.

Later that evening, there was the knock at the door. Shit. Here we go again. Expecting the same angry neighbor, I opened the door. It was a different neighbor. A friend. She said she was sorry to tell me that she just struck my cat with her car, and he was dead.

After saying she was sorry, she gave me a hug and told me what happened. While slowing down on the approach to the stop sign, Raisin just appeared in front of the car and stared at it head-on. And then, she said, it was the weirdest thing. She swears he tried to jump on the hood of her car while it was still moving. Unfortunately, his speed estimating skills were a little off and it ended badly.

She helped me scoop him into a box and the next day a friend helped me bury him on some rural property. My big, beautiful, deranged symbol of freedom had gone out of this world much as he had lived in it; in a crazy blaze of weird.

Ever once in awhile Bella cops an aggressive attitude, with a surprise wrap-around-arm-bite-and-kick move. As I deftly extricate myself from her grip, I always say, "You are not worthy of being smacked by the angry paws of cats with whom I've showered."

Okay. Maybe I don't say that, exactly. But I could.


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