“What’s that smell?”, I hear my son holler from the front door.
“The cat has set himself on fire again.”
“Oh gross!!!”, my son leaves, shutting the door behind him, leaving me to comfort a re-traumatized feline. We’ve been through this before, and it’s something he knows I can handle on my own.
Ah yes, burning cat hair, one of the nuances of home. Our house would not be a home without a cat. A very eccentric one who loves to eat roasted seaweed, popcorn and ketchup chips. He will, at least once a year, find it necessary to try and show dominance by getting too close to the flame of a candle, leaving his glorious white coat scorched.
The first time this happened, years ago, I had just tucked my then 4 year old son into bed, and was preparing a much needed hot bath. I had the music on, the water was steaming in the tub, and the candles had just been lit on the vanity. I had gone to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of wine, and was on my way back to the bathroom when I smelled the ungodly aroma of burning hair.
“What on earth?” I thought to myself as I stepped through the doorway of my bathing retreat. There stood the cat on the toilet seat, tail aglow, looking at me as if I had just set him on fire. In fact, he had just set his glorious tail on fire. Now, my cat does not just have a tail. He is fourteen pounds of male je ne sais quoi. His tail is in a constant state of erection, much like the ever-amorous Pepe Le Pew.
I do not allow the cat in the bathroom while I’m taking a bath for a number of reasons. First of all, he wants out of the room before I’m ready to get out of the bath, which means I have to get up, dry off, open the door and then climb back in the tub. Secondly, he stands on his hind legs, front paws hanging over the edge of the tub like he’s standing at a bar and stares at me, which kinda feels wrong. Thirdly he drinks the bath water while I’m in it, and finally, he swats at the bubbles. His company is not quite as relaxing as the old boyfriend I had who used to pour my wine and read William Blake and Pablo Neruda to me while I soaked.
Knowing that he was not welcome in my bath boudoir, the cat, (aptly named Leonard Cohen) had nonchalently trotted in, waving his ferile tail through the flame of the candles that were burning on the vanity.
When I arrived at the door, the cat’s eyes were huge, and looked at me in a pathetic accusatory stare. He seemed to be saying, “See you selfish woman?! Why can’t you just let me come in here and lap water out of the tub while you relax? See what your selfishness has done to my beautiful white coat?!”
“Leonard!” I gasped, pulling the towel I had wrapped around myself a little tighter as I bent down to rescue the poor creature. He bolted, smoking tail held high. I bolted after him, losing my towel and glass of wine as we rounded the corner between the living and dining room.
“Mommy, what’s that smell? ” my son hollered from his bunk bed.
“It’s ok honey,” I answered back, trying to sound calm.”The cat’s just on fire. Don’t come out because mommy doesn’t have any clothes on”. All of the running had essentially fanned the flame, and left a smelly trail of fur smoke wafting through the apartment. We still laugh about that today.
Ah yes, home. The place that we’re most comfortable, vulnerable, and content. The place I almost set on fire after closing the fireplace flu the first winter we spent here, causing our entire home to fill with smoke, and earning my son the nickname, “Bacon” at school because our clothes smelled of woodsmoke the next day.
We’re weirdest at home. Long ago I came to the conclusion that people are weird. W.E.I.R.Duh. Even after knowing someone for years and years, they can say or do something that catches me off guard, leaves me with my mouth gaping, and wondering what the hell is wrong with them.
Weird is the new normal, and we’re never as weird in public as we are at home. For instance, when I colour my own hair, I walk around the house in my hair-colouring nightie, plastic grocery bag clipped to my head, squinting at everything because I don’t have my glasses on. It’s sexy in an earthy kind of way I suppose.
I also like to trot around pantless when I’m home alone, and tend to enjoy Indian take out with a cold beer in my skivies on the couch while watching Coronation Street.
This is something I don’t share with my company. Not even company I’ve known since I was a kid.
I also have to make my bed completely – pillows and everything – before I climb in for the night, at which point I toss and turn, throw one pillow on the floor, and roll myself up like a Pillsbury weiner roll and immediately fall asleep.
We save weird for our loved ones, and introduce it slowly to new people coming into our lives. Oddly enough, weird is everyone’s normal. Weird is what we wait to come home to do every day.