My life has changed quite a bit in the five years since I wrote the below piece, dramatic gains and losses. My cat is no longer my emergency contact; I've been with a woman for three and a half years now, and within her multitude of good qualities is endless dependability. There have been, unfortunately, more than a few emergencies in recent years, and she's always my first contact.
My cat's last day was yesterday; we spent over ten years together, for most, she was my best friend. With the rush of change blending our two animal families, I sometimes felt I gave her the short end. I hope that's not true. She outlasted the house, the car, the game show money, most of the people, and almost the job. We watched Game 6 of the 2002 World Series together, for the love of god. It was like being in 'Nam. Sometimes I'd play "Goodnight Saigon" and I'd swear she gave me a knowing look.
Game 6. We saw some things. Some bad things. Dusty gave Ortiz the ball back. Scott Bleeping Speizio. Yes we will all go down together.
Things are either going to break one way or the other over the next few weeks; it will mean more upheaval either way, and my brain really does not do well with new. Hopefully we ride that turn to a good place.
My cat won't be there; she put in her time. Five years ago, she was my emergency contact:
My cat is my emergency contact.
Just let that wash over you for a second.
My cat is, in point of fact, my emergency contact. She wasn't the first choice, but the black roadie for Psychedelic Furs isn't very dependable in a crisis.
The reason I mention this is that I had a moment a few months ago when I was bathing in my own blood, and it struck me that some nurse was going to get stuck trying to get my cat to answer the phone, which is a bit of a problem considering the whole opposable thumbs debacle (put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Darwin; if, in fact, laws of natural selection require that traits necessary for species survival are propagated, why is it my kitten still can't recognize that my special "I'm bathing in my own blood" ringtone, "You Light Up My Life", means she needs to step up and bring my insurance card to the emergency room?)
You'd think the kitten would be able, even though thumbless, to manipulate my brand new Verizon chocolate LG celly: With its sleek and stylish silky-smooth slide design, the Chocolate offers a rich array of features that include V CAST Music, glowing touch-sensitive navigation keys, and a superlative music/video player (that's product placement son, or haven't you noticed that the advertising tentacles around here grow a little more every day)– and that's because she demonstrably can easily handle a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol (as it's conceivable my kitten used it to assassinate Barbara Mandrell back in 1986…and if you don't think the methamphetamine fueled sadomasochistic homicide of Barbara Mandrell is the functional equivalent of killing a head of state – say of Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, killed in 1994 by future CNN newsreader Soledad O' Brien – then you've never been to Nashville during the High Mandrell Holy Days, in which scores of virgins in Vince Young jerseys are swaddled, goo-goo cluster-like, in luscious caramel, smooth creamy marshmallow, fresh roasted peanuts and pure milk chocolate and set forth to sing "Sleeping Single In a Double Bed" in every church, synagogue, mosque, and pagoda in Nashville.)
If you've never been to a Tennessee pagoda, you don't know what you're missing.
But, not only does she just shrug the functional equivalent of her cat shoulders when asked to answer the phone; what I know, and that ER nurses never will, is that the cat would not step up if called upon. I mean, she'd understand she was speaking with a medical professional – but my cat is not a cat of action but a cat of thoughts – a thoughtcat, if you will, and she'd immediately vault into a discussion of sickness as less biological event and more of a social phenomenon. Historically, my cat would opine, when you consider diseases from yellow fever to heart disease to cancer to AIDS, sickness has taken place within a social context wherein the behavior of the sick was held to be transgressive. My kitten would discuss my bathing in my own blood as emblematic of my weakness of character, the ire of my disappointed ancestors as I continue to squander my limitless potential on puroresu and auto-erotic manipulation, "the body is a system of dynamic interactions with the environment, Jividen's bloodletting results from a cumulative interaction between his weak constitutional endowment and poor environmental circumstance," my kitten would say. "He gets what he deserves. If he dies…he dies. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.
I don't really want to go into what led to the dramatic loss of blood (craniocerebral trauma caused by my 'copter getting shot down over the Sea of Japan) from that night several months ago, I'm keeping my inner architecture secret from you people, can't let you roam inside my head and all that; and it's really incidental to the point of this story, which was the revelation I had while waiting in an inner city ER at 2 in the morning on a Friday night in January…
…Oh, Oh, Oh…do you have any idea the types of people you encounter at 2 in the morning on a Friday night in January? Toddlers mauled by rhesus monkeys; Marla Maples, who has been out of public view since struck with neurofibromatosis; a reed thin African-American woman claiming to be the Maharajah of Gaipajama and demanding a soul kiss from a vending machine containing nothing but garbanzo beans, sweetbreads, half eaten Ore-Ida tater tots, and breastmilk from the still lactating corpse of Vic Tayback, tethered to the machine by a byzantine series of pulleys and levers (a joke that works much better, readers, if you pronounce lever with a long e, like "Leave it to Beaver" or "Don't Fear the Reaper.")
In fact, that's exactly what my blog needs…more cowbell.
It's my own fault, winding up in the ER on Friday night, bathed in my own blood and wondering how I got to a place in my life where the only possible call that could be made on my behalf was to a cat; truth is you're more likely to find Betty Rubble in a bottle of Flintstones chewable vitamins than I am someone in south Florida who would come to the ER to scrape me up.
And the injury, mysterious though we will leave it, was my fault as well.
I've always tended toward the clumsy. I broke my right arm in soccer practice in third grade, I tore multiple ligaments in my right ankle when I was 15 in full tilt celebration of Sugar Ray Leonard's improbable victory over Marvelous Marvin Hagler. I fractured my left kneecap taking some shrapnel while directing my third…no, fourth, Viennese snuff film in '98; my silicone ass implants, which I got when going all method during my street theater days as a Beyonce impersonator, ruptured during a particularly fevered version of "Crazy In Love" in the median of I-95 just a year and a half ago. None of that had anything to do with the revelation I had while my vital fluids were seeping from an open wound that Friday night in January – that had to do with the peculiar understanding of matters right and wrong held by those in power in the United States government.
You sure have heard, since September 11, 2001 particularly, a lot of good/evil speak emanating out of Washington.
Let's see if I have the scorecard right. Feel free to correct me:
It's wrong, apparently, to utilize warehoused embryos to conduct life saving research.
It's right, apparently, to bomb civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It's wrong, apparently to sign the global emissions Kyoto protocols.
It's right, apparently, to drive cars bigger than the sky.
Tax cuts for the wealthy are right.
Increasing the minimum wage and providing health care for American children is wrong.
Warrantless wiretaps = right.
Gay marriage = wrong.
Torture = Right!
Saying "Happy Holidays" = wrong
Right: In Guantanamo: no access to lawyers, no right to face one's accuser, no learning of charges against you.
Still What's right: Wages have stalled since 2000
While: Corporate profits have doubled.
So, so right: Tax cuts sliced a few hundred dollars off the tax bills of most Americans, they saved the richest one percent more than $44,000 on average.
Couldn't be more right: Once all of the tax cuts take effect, those with incomes of more than $200,000 a year -- the richest five percent of the population -- will take almost half of the money.
Oh, wow is this right: In 1969, General Motors was the largest corporation (aside from AT&T, which held a guaranteed monopoly) in the US. GM paid its CEO a salary of $795,000 -- the equivalent of $4.2 million today.
The average paycheck for production workers in the auto industry was almost $8,000 -- more than $45,000 today. GM workers also received health and retirement benefits.
Today, Wal-Mart is America's largest corporation, with 1.3 million employees; its chairman, is paid almost $23 million. On average, Wal-Mart's non-supervisory employees are paid $18,000 a year. Benefits?
The most right thing you'll ever read: According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly wage of the average American non-supervisory worker is lower, adjusted for inflation, than it was in 1970. Meanwhile, CEO pay was less than thirty times the average wage back then …and is now almost 300 times the typical worker's pay.
Then there's 64 year old Thai Ngoc, who hasn't slept since 1973; Sanju Bhagat, whose twin brother spilled out of his stomach, having taken up residence his entire life as an unknown fetal parasite; Mehran Karimi Nasseri, who has lived at the Charles de Gaulle Airport since 1988; and Yoshiro Nakamatsu, who has photographed every single meal he has eaten for the last 34 years.
What do any of those people have to do with the ethics of the Bush Administration?
But, as I sat in the ER Friday night, bathed not only in my own blood but my feelings of moral righteousness -- I realized that none of those guys – not a single one of them –
…has his cat as his emergency contact.