The Story of Buffy

Buffy came to me about 12 years ago, via the humane society. My friend Sabrina first spotted her while doing some volunteer work at the center; she saw there was something special about the grey-striped kitty with the chill disposition and told me that I really needed to go and just give her a look. I had recently lost a cat to old age and my heart was broken–I was pretty sure that I wasn’t ready for a new critter. My Sophie had been a gift from #1 many years ago, when we were still in South Carolina, and the spunky little cat was the only thing I still had from that previous life. Losing her after 18 years together felt like I’d lost a part of myself, but I finally gave in and decided to go and check out this ‘special’ girl.

I met up with Sabrina at the animal shelter and we walked over to the living room set-up that is the showroom for about 20 cats of varying shapes, colors and sizes. I noticed a smallish, silvery-striped tabby lying stretched out comfortably on her back….on top of another cat. I laughed and Sabrina said, “You see her, huh?”

“That’s the one?”

“Yep…she’s something, isn’t she?”

I wasn’t gonna be had that easily though, and insisted that we do a walk-through to check out all the other available cats. Sabrina went along with it, but she obviously thought it wasn’t necessary. We started down the looping hallway lined with glass-fronted cages, stopping at each to read the placard put there to explain the idiosyncrasies of its resident (Pookie doesn’t like to be held, or Mittens is a quiet girl…etc.). Most of the cats were sleeping or playing, oblivious to our presence, and as we got farther along I could feel myself being pulled more and more strongly back to the fake living room where the uniquely relaxed tiger kitty was. Then it hit me…what if someone else saw her while I was dilly-dallying, pretending that there was any other cat there that I’d even consider? My saunter turned into a faster paced hustle, and Sabrina smiled as we rushed back to the cat she knew should be my new friend.

We asked to see the lounger and were led to a small side room to meet her. We sat and waited on a bench, and shortly the attendant came in with a box. She opened the lid and a sweet, curious cat face popped up. It was then that I noticed a pink, heart-shaped nose outlined in black, and two smiling green eyes with a crazy amount of personality. Within a few seconds I had two sets of claws lightly scraping my leg. “Say hello to Buffy,” the volunteer laughed, “I’ll leave you folks to visit for a bit.”

I swear it was as if that cat was auditioning for me…after she finished the ‘clawing disguised as a stretch’ against my legs she purred, stretched some more, rubbed her face on my hand and did all the adorable things cats are supposed to do, finishing up with her butt up in the air as an invitation to scratch her back quarters. I was totally smitten. Sabrina and I did note that she wasn’t afraid to use those claws, but she wasn’t rough or wild about it, and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I was sold.

In the years since then, the Buffster and I went through a lot together. I learned to handle her occasional sofa clawing, and she loved me with an aloof but wide-open heart that made my world a much better place. She charmed everyone she ever met and was loved so much by her Aunt Linda (a fellow cat lady friend who house-sat for me and always treated Buffy like a princess). They played for hours with a special ‘cat fishing’ toy that I keep behind a glass door in my entertainment center, and Buffy would run to that cabinet whenever Linda came through the door. She knew a sucker when she saw one!

We also made it through a few human boyfriend types–Buffy tried to warn me about one of them, but I was oblivious (Note to self: When the cats don’t like ’em, back away). She was notorious for using her ‘butt in the air’ trick when she liked someone, begging them to scratch at the base of her spine, and my latest boyfriend was graced by this gesture more times than we bothered to count. (He obviously wasn’t the one she tried to warn me about!)

Along the way Buffy and I lost a cat friend–Zoe, the beautiful but dumb one that I called my “Anna Nicole Cat”. After that we endured the somewhat chaotic entry of Pickle into our lives. We barely saw him for the first month he lived here…he hid in the basement, petrified of both of us…but he finally cozied up to her, and the two eventually became buddies. After about a year they were inseparable; her favorite thing was to cuddle with him and let him groom her…and then turn around and box his ears. She was the boss, and he adored her.

After Pickle gave in to Buffy’s charms, he even started sleeping with us. He liked to snuggle up with his head on my pillow, and his sister would circle up into a ball right behind my knee. I was trapped, but happy with the arrangement, and I slept soundly.

Pickle and I are both sad right now. Our Buffy left us almost a month ago, and neither of us has yet figured out how things are supposed to work without her. He cries and looks for her, and usually tries to sleep on top of me these days. I toss and turn and wake up just enough to pat him and tell him it’s going to be okay. Eventually, it will be.

The afternoon after Buffy’s last trip to the vet was quiet and empty in our house. I sat on the couch, neither noticing nor caring about the few shredded areas of sofa material, scars from my girl’s errant claws. I turned on the TV but wasn’t watching it…I just felt alone. I shifted my gaze to see what Pickle was up to and, when I turned back, the previously closed glass door to my entertainment center was suddenly wide open. The same door that houses the favorite cat fishing stick and feathers, the toy that had been idle and untouched for some two months. That cupboard hadn’t even been open in a long while, but it suddenly just…was.

I smiled and picked up Pickle, holding him to me whether he wanted to be cuddled or not. He snuggled back against me briefly before he squirmed his way out of my arms, jumped to the floor and ran.

It really is going to be okay.

Sweetest. Cat. Ever.

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Book ’em!

I have a friend who just finished writing his second book. I edited it for him, and I now have a much better appreciation for what a huge task it all is…frankly, I’m in awe.

I continually tell myself that I need to write more, and I get lots of love and encouragement from those who read what I do manage to get in writing. However, being a dues-paying member of the Procrastinator’s Guild, I’ve pretty much just been poking a stick at the process for quite a while. Not a lot of actual writing going on, but I have been jotting down a few initial sentences and notes. In a tentative, half-assed way, I guess I’ve finally started making the first attempts at beginning to write my own book.

One thing that’s been a big challenge for me is feeling like I don’t have a crystal clear vision of what my first book is supposed to be. Hell, I don’t know that I even have a muddified Portland fall morning’s notion of what it’s supposed to be. I keep worrying at it though and (in fun) here are some of the titles and ideas I’ve been throwing around in my head…

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Lessons From Losers

The diary of a middle-aged woman as she reflects back on the more entertaining choices in suitors that she’s made. Not for the faint of heart. (Look for the upcoming sequel   —   Go Ahead…Date the Drummer.)

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The Know-It-All Life

(sub-title: A Professional’s Guide to Pissing People Off Without Even Knowing It)

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Don’t Wear Your Hoochie Mama Dress to Court…The Tammy Kelly Story

A racy coming-of-age tale with just enough bluegrass, booze and jury duty to keep you on the edge of your bar stool. (Come on, you know you’d buy it.)

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Big Hair…Will Travel

She came into town with a can of Aqua Net and a dream. (Soon to be a minor made-for-tv movie…see your local LifeTime channel listings.)

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It’s obviously still a work in progress, but I’m feeling better about it every time I put fingers to keyboard. Stay tuned for further developments!

Old Timer Dating

Dating in your fifties is an adventure. Not necessarily a fun adventure, mind you…more of a, “Well, he seems really nice online, but what if he doesn’t have teeth?” kind of adventure. Finding men reasonably close to my age who aren’t married, half-dead or (my personal favorite) just pretending to NOT be married…well, it’s a bit of a challenge. I work from home, don’t attend church, have never managed to find a date at Safeway (or even Whole Foods), and after many years I finally learned that the options at my local bar leave a little to be desired.

That leaves…yep…the internet.

Now, it takes a bold soul (or maybe just a fool) to venture into the world of OMID (Old Man Internet Dating), but such is my lot in life, and I’m okay with that.

Dating site funnyFirst off, writing a dating profile is, in and of itself, a royal pain in the ass. Describing yourself and detailing your likes and dislikes isn’t too bad (‘Sweet, funny blogger seeks smart, RICH young-for-his-age grandpa’), but posting pictures of yourself that make you look appealing (but not like a HO) is not easy! (Let’s see, do I use that shot of myself on the segway laughing hysterically as I almost fall off….um, probably not.) As it turns out, the best pictures of me invariably involve alcohol and, more often than not, a tiara. So when you see the profile that looks like a wine baroness with long blonde hair…yeah, that’s me.

There seem to be two distinct demographic types that are most often attracted to my brand of zaftig, tiara-wearing royalty. First we have the 26-year-old boy (what’s up with that?) and then, the 70+ year-old man. The older of the two…well, I can understand that one. I just respond to their emails with, “Oh thank you, but I don’t really think we’d be a good match.” I’ve learned though to not even bother answering the ones from the younger guys–they tend to get a bit defensive and try to explain to you (in graphic detail) why they’d be a perfect choice…aren’t women my age always in the market for a good time? Um…no thanks. Flattering? Maybe. Bizarre? Most definitely.

Hey girl...like my wheels?

Hey girl…like my wheels?

Once you’ve narrowed down the field and identified someone you’re actually interested in at least talking to, there are still plenty of things to stress about. Is that picture of him even from this century…and is that a granddaughter or an old girlfriend next to him? Does this guy have a place to live, or does he sleep in that mid-life crisis car? Does your potential Mr. Right have the words restraining order practically written all over him? And I know I’m shallow, but please…don’t even get me started on spelling ability and old man ear hair!

Hmmm…maybe I should reconsider a few of those younger…no, wait…pretend I didn’t say that!

Enter Rasputin

Now, I know that your mama told you not to marry anyone you met in a bar. I’ve never been much of a church-goer though, and that whole grocery store myth has never panned out…so naturally, I had to give the bars a shot.

I had the dubious honor of having an ex-professional basketball player give me to the man who would become husband #1, and it happened in a bar. I was in my early 20’s, and the crowded, smokey pub was called Group Therapy. I was there with a friend I had been casually dating for a month or so. He was enormous…almost 7 feet tall.  We were drinking beer and shouting to each other so that we could be heard over the room full of drunk college students, when a much shorter, bearded guy with glasses came up and was introduced to me as ‘Rasputin’. He had a huge laugh and an even bigger ego, from what I could tell. The two men chatted and laughed and after a few minutes I excused myself to go to the ladies room.

After I made my way back to the odd-looking couple, my tall friend made a grand gesture toward me, bellowing, “You want her, Rasputin? You can have her!”

I stopped and did a double take…I imagine that I looked like someone had just slapped me. I wasn’t surprised that Gigantor and I weren’t destined to make it as a couple, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to be ‘given away’ like so much flat beer! (Aren’t you glad I skipped the bad basketball metaphors?)

My friend was serious, though, and he soon faded away into the crowd. I was left standing next to the funny, bespectacled man with the enormous laugh, and he had obviously decided to make the most of it. I discovered that Rasputin was a nickname that our mutual friend had given him…a sort of bizarre term of endearment. I also learned that he was a few years older than I was, had a real name, and was actually quite charming, in a roguish sort of way. The man had stories, that’s for sure. He was well-read and worldly, was a writer, and talked about hitchhiking across the country, hopping freight trains, meeting famous people in big cities, and many other things I’d never even thought of doing. He idolized Hemingway, had lived like a modern Kerouac, and could quote The Lord of the Rings…but mostly he made me laugh.

He asked me out for a proper date, and we both liked to drink and talk, so I accepted. He took me to a lovely restaurant and I was impressed that he knew which fork to use, and at how attentive and smart he was. I loved the attention and was giddy with the newness of it all…at least until I was accused of “fraternizing with the help”. Now, I can’t help but talk to strangers…it’s just who I am… so I struck up a conversation and bonded a bit with our waitress. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it when my suitor called me on it, but I just filed it away in the PRF (Potential Red Flag) folder. He was a bit over the top and maybe a bit full of himself, but we clicked and I liked him and things were going well…and then we saw Vincent Price.

The famous actor was touring with a one man show about Oscar Wilde, and we decided to go. I didn’t yet know much about the works of the acclaimed author, but the play had done well on Broadway, and I was game. We (naturally) made a stop at a bar for drinks on our way to the theater, and then had (a lot of) wine in the lobby at the show. By the second act we were feeling no pain, to say the least. That’s when Mr. (Not Yet) #1’s laugh took on a life of its own.

That laugh stood out. It rang out loud and ohhhhh so clear…a guffaw to be proud of! The only problem was that #1 appeared to ‘get’ a lot of jokes that no one else in the audience did. And not just one time. Oh no…it happened over and over…and over. The show was certainly witty, and there were lots of laughs, but when it was extra quiet and the crowd was rapt in attention…there was that lone, strong, resonating peal of #1’s laughter. I’m sure I elbowed him, but it didn’t help. There I was, Ms. Don’t Notice Me, sitting next to the loudest, most noticeable person in the entire theater…I cringe remembering how mortified I was!

My PRF meter went off the scale, and I broke up with Rasputin that night…I just couldn’t see myself going through that on a regular basis. Our break up held for another year and a half before he and I ran into each other again…this time in a different bar. We had both gone through a lot in that time, and we were finally both ready…or at least as ready as we were ever going to be. Within a year, Raspy and I became Mr. & Mrs. #1.

Many, many years later I went to Hollywood and had a chance to be in the audience of a late night talk show. Before we were seated, the crowd got the ‘special laugh’ speech: “You need to laugh…loud…really loud. However, if you have what we like to call a ‘special’ laugh…well, we may have to ask you to leave. So people, keep that ‘special’ laugh in check!” It didn’t occur to me when I heard that bit of instruction that my ex personified the ‘special laugh’, but he really did. The funny thing is that, when I watched the DVR recording of the talk show, MY laugh is the one that rings out and is completely recognizable! My sister even reported to me that, out of the entire crowd, she could tell when I laughed…every time. Strangely, no one asked me to leave.

I leave you with a quote from Mr. Wilde himself: Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is by far the best ending for one.