Quite a few years ago my daughter was at one of those YMCA birthday swim parties, you know the ones where the kids splash around for a while, take a break for some “light refreshment” that usually consists of cake and pizza, swim around some more, eat the contents of the “goody bag” on the car ride home, and then complain all night about their upset stomachs and chlorine burns. Remember those?
At some point, having gotten my fill of the chlorine gas that was trapped in the indoor pool area (Am I mistaken or wasn’t this addressed in The Geneva Conventions?) and knowing that there was plenty of flat orange soda and probably a few only semi-melted Tootsie Rolls left in the “party room” (Pixie Sticks would have been too much to hope for), I headed off there under the guise of helping to clean up. Noticing my escape, some of the other parents discovered what I was up to and soon followed. So, we cleaned up, organized the gifts, and indulged in some leftover processed sugar.
Some of these folks knew that our previously indoor cat had recently returned from his brief foray out in the real world. I live in a very small town and have a fairly big mouth, so it’s not surprising that they had come by this information. There were also more than a few “Missing Cat” posters strewn around town with my name and phone number on them. His return had, as it turns out, been fairly big news in Mayberry. Lucky for me that no one’s teenager had been picked up in the park for underage drinking that week.
Because if they had, if the reappearance of “the beast” hadn’t been small town news, then the conversation I am about to describe would never have taken place.
Parent 1: So I heard about the return of “the beast.”
Me: Yeah. He was scratched up quite a bit and and a lot thinner, but otherwise, he seems fine.
Parent 2: That’s great. How long was he gone?
Me: Three weeks! I have to tell you that we had almost given up hope. Because he’s declawed.
Parent 2: Wow! That is amazing! Considering he was declawed.
Parent 1: He came back? Declawed?
A moment of stunned silence. Some puzzled looks. And then the giggling began, which later erupted into full-on belly laughs.
Me (with as much seriousness as could be mustered): He didn’t come back declawed. He had been previously declawed. By our vet. Prior to his little adventure.
Parent 1 (still clearly puzzled by my answer): Oh. Well, that makes a little more sense, I guess.
Me: No. Actually it makes a lot more sense. Think about it.
Parent 1 (lightbulb going on): Oh my God. I am a dumbass.
Me (sympathetically): Yes. Yes you are. But I’m so happy. Because this is an awesome story. Thank you!
Parent 1 (not in the least bit chagrined): You’re welcome.
When I run into any of these women, including Parent 1, even after all these years, the first thing they say to me is: “He came back? Declawed?” Truth be told I didn’t really like Parent 1 until that moment. She always seemed to have a stick up her ass and was, in my opinion, severely lacking a sense of humor. Until that night. That moment humanized her. She now has a place in my heart as well as a part in one of my favorite stories.