You Can’t Swing a Dead Cat in Here. . .

I used to date this guy back in the last year of high school and the first year of college.

I’ll refrain from commenting on the quality of the relationship.

{insert mature restraint of tongue & pen keyboard here}

{insert immature smug self-righteousness here}

His mom lived in an apartment complex that offered external storage spaces for rent to its tenants. His mom had one. We went into the storage space one day and. . . stored some stuff.

No really, that’s what we did. What were you thinking?

We stored stuff and then we left. We shut the door on the way out and went on about our business– whatever kind of business it is that one has at that age. Terribly important things, I’m sure, like buying Noble Roman’s breadsticks, playing the new Guns & Roses album and finding someone to cop beer.

A couple months later we went back into the storage unit. Whether to store or unstore, I can’t quite recall. What I do recall is that there, on the concrete floor, near the back and behind an old armchair was a cat.

Or, more correctly, what was left of a cat.

Which was a perfect, black and empty fur shell.

It appeared that the cat had gotten in without us noticing when we were storing stuff previously; unable to get out, it starved to death (then decomposed, as is the nature of things).

At this point I’m sure you’re thinking this is a hell of a way to start your morning, reading about dead cat shells. I would like to point out that I did give you fair warning with the title.

At the time, the dead cat shell was the creepiest and weirdest thing I had ever seen and while I did feel a twinge of guilt myself, I secretly blamed my boyfriend.

Even today, more than twenty years later, I have a sense of trepidation every time I open a storage door. Any door to a dusty, seldom-trafficked space where people store things that are– or at least once were– meaningful enough to them that they pay extra money to keep them safe. I open those doors and I wonder what I’m going to find. I wonder what got in and died while I was away.

Which is exactly how I felt last night logging in to my blog for the first time in about two months .

If you can gingerly log in, peek at your notifications through your fingers, glance at the new comments only briefly so as to not have a horrifying image (like a dead cat fur shell) burned into your retinas, well. . . I did that. It’s gonna take me a little while to get through the debris. I have a lot on my mind that would be positively destroyed by the discovery of ex-household pets. I must proceed slowly.

As for where I’ve been?

I haven’t been in my garden. Nor my yard.

Nor at the mall, thank God.

I haven’t been on Facebook in part because I’m weary of people at opposite ends of the political spectrum exhibiting how exactly alike they are in their closed-mindedness.

I’ve been at work and at home. Grocery stores and Costco. The airport, too many times. My kitchen, eternally. And the laundry room.

I’ve been in biographies of Nureyev, Hedy Lamarr, Valerie Bertinelli, and Judas; I’ve been in the music of Johnny Cash, Sixx A.M., a bunch of stuff Brian Paulson produced and that Live album that I always go back to, every time.

I’ve been in my ’66 Mustang Miss Lucy.

I’ve been in a meditative mood. I’ve been in a state of high agitation. I’ve been to hell & back, and also Owensboro, KY (which was a whole separate trip, and much more pleasant).

But whatever. I’ve missed this place and you folks and I’m here now.

Lovely to see you again, my friends. Make sure nothing snuck in behind you before you shut the door.


31 thoughts on “You Can’t Swing a Dead Cat in Here. . .

  1. So I normally skip any and all “possible dead animal herein” possibility in a post/book/movie, etc. But I had to read this, and I’m so glad I did. I have to tell you that Dead Cat Shell is most likely the best band name I’ve come across in a long time!!! DCS for short! Tell me, how was the Hedy Lamarr biography? I think she’s so under-rated as an intellectual, and I didn’t even know there was a book out about her!

    1. Over the past year or so there have been three new biographies about her. I read the really short one, Hedy’s Folly by Richard Rhodes, specifically about her invention of spread spectrum technology. She’s a badass. Total badass. I should do a post on her. Dead Cat Shell would be a great band name!

  2. So glad you are back. I was stalking you on Twitter and here, but then it occurred to me you probably had stuff going on and needed a break. It’s good to hear your voice again, even if the dead cat story left me with a gruesome visual.

  3. I’ve missed your stories and links as well, and am quite glad to have you back whenever and however you choose to post.

  4. I have missed you, JM .. and I applaud your decision (voluntary or not) to step away from the facbook/online political madness (and just plain old madness) — what a great idea! I had a similar animal shell experience with a bat that got into my house one night when Lulu was a baby — terrifying me to death — and then could never find it, so everybody was convinced I’d dreamed it. BUT three years later when I moved, I heard a rattle in the bottom of a long-necked vase — and there was the bat skeleton. Yeeeech!! Still can’t pick up a vase without gingerly looking inside…
    xoxoxoxo B

    1. Holy bat skeletons! Sheesh, that would give me the skeevies every time I picked up a vase too. I once lived in a house where bats moved into the landing that was in the middle of the stairs down to the bedroom and up to the kitchen. They totally divebombed me every night when they woke up. And they were freakishly large bats too, not your standard little ones. Ewww.

    1. We missed you too! #5 found (and broke) the last surviving slap bracelet last week. It was under the couch. I’m not sure how it survived the painting fiasco this summer, but I suspect Jack and Casey had something to do with it.

      1. Hehehehe…I am back, I have sucked at keeping up 🙂 but winter is here again and I am back on track!!

  5. Oh good, you’re back. I felt like I just found and met you, and then you up and disppeared on me. But I totally get it and applaud you for stepping away when you needed to and returning when you were ready. Looking forward to reading you again.

  6. Welcome back, my friend, to the show that never ends. We’re so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside. (No dead cats here… although my live one IS black and you’ve now given me an image.) PS Who knew Judas had a bio?

  7. I once turned my pet lizards accidentally into greenish crackers hiding them under my sink during spring break in college. I don’t think I will ever get over the guilt. ::sniff::

  8. Lovely to see you back here! I’ve been around my blog but not keeping up on others’ blogs. It is good to be back reading, even about carcasses (enjoyable only at the right hands).

  9. Welcome back. We all have a real life and it is damn important! Noticed you on Twitter, so thought you might be arund.

    Poor cat. Ever considered it was the cat’s fault? He should not have been sneaking and creeping where he should not have been. 😀

Comment. It gives me a reason not to clean my house.

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