by Nixie 🦊
One Spock-eared kitten parties down.
Dr. Zhivago, our new Tonkinese kitten, had nothing in common with the book or the movie. Mom chose the name, and we pretended to like it. With giant ears disproportionate to his body, no one had the heart to tell Mom the kitten looked more like Spock from the Star Trek series. He wasn't a space-worthy cat, nor did he have any initials after his name to give him doctor status.
Me? I'm just Cassandra. A fourteen-year-old trying to be invisible in the chaos of Dad's fortieth birthday celebration preparations.
Mom was frantic, trying to prepare his favorite dessert. Chocolate cheesecake. All three kids were evacuated during the process, lest any abrupt movement create a crack while the cake baked and cooled. It made no difference to Mom if the top of the cake would be covered with cherries, disguising any faults. It had to be perfect. She probably took one of her "nerve pills" to calm the jitters.
Two hours later, Mom called us back into the kitchen and handed out job assignments. "Now, I expect all of you to follow my orders exactly. I'm going upstairs to change."
Nora, my baby sister, and I stared at each other. Jason, my younger brother, got kitten duty, but an iPad was controlling his brain. When Dr. Zhivago's tiny, stiff staff of a tail knocked beverage glasses from the tables, Nora yelped, I jumped, and Jason stayed eye-locked to the iPad.
Mom came rushing in. "What in the name of—Cassandra, you're the oldest, can't you keep that kitten out of trouble?"
"It's Jason's job, not mine," I said.
"Mom," Nora cried out. "I'm trying to decorate the tables with streamers, but Dr. 'Vago grabbed a roll and ran away."
"Oh, good grief," Mom said. "Look at the presents! Dr. Zhivago is more talented and precise than a surgeon. He's shredded all the wrapping paper. Jason, get hold of that cat and lock him up in my bedroom."
He grunted, but no one knew if that meant 'okay', or 'I'm not listening.'
Having been delegated overseer, I wasted a glare on dorky Jason, before locking the kitten in the guest bathroom. After helping Mom make the punch, I remembered to tell her where I locked up Dr. Zhivago.
"No," she nearly sobbed. "Not the guest bathroom, Cassandra."
"What's wrong?" I asked "He can't cause trouble in there."
"Oh, really?" Mom crooked a finger, and I followed her.
Cautiously opening the door, we both gasped at the sight. Dr. Zhivago had torn to infinitesimal pieces all the toilet paper in the bathroom closet. Every last roll.
This time, Mom cried. "That was the entire stash of toilet paper. Get your dad and go buy some at the drugstore."
I felt something brush against my leg, but didn't pay much attention. I found my dad in his recliner, watching Nora trying to gather all the streamers.
"Mom said go buy toilet paper," I told him.
"Run errands on my birthday?"
"Dr. Zhivago shredded all the toilet paper," I said, hands on my hips. "Take Nora, she's doing a crummy job with the streamers."
"Am not," said Nora, holding a bundle of smushed streamers in her tiny arms.
"Come on, pumpkin," Dad said and swung her onto his shoulders. "I need company. Let's go to the store together." He shot me a look, totally out of proportion. "Nora's doing her best. Quit picking on her."
To my credit, I rolled my eyes after they left and returned to the kitchen. Mom was trembling, trying to cover the crack in the cheesecake with cherries.
"Mom, seriously? No one except you will notice."
"You're right," she sniffed, brushing flour from her jeans. "I must look a fright."
She went back to her room, and I went outside to see if the hot guy next door was around. The masterpiece of cheesecake was left on the counter.
I saw Dad standing in the driveway with a twelve pack of giant rolls of toilet paper, and motioned him to go around to the back door because the first guests were walking in the front. We heard Mom crying and raced into the kitchen, while Nora opened the front door and charmed everyone with her baby-yuckiness that adults find precious.
"What's wrong, babe?" Dad asked Mom.
She pointed to the cheesecake, and we all gasped. Dr. Zhivago had devoured half the cake. The brush against my leg when Mom and I were evaluating the bathroom disaster registered. I decided not to tell her the kitten escaped.
Dad was gentling Mom while she lamented. "What was I thinking? Buying a new kitten? He's ruined the entire party."
"Watch out," Nora shouted, and we headed toward the living room—too late. Old Mrs. Mortimer had tripped on the loose paper streamers, and was down on one knee. Dr. Zhivago came from nowhere and vaulted over the stricken woman. She rolled to her side and bumped a table. Bowls of chips and pretzels skittered across the wood floor.
While Mr. Mortimer was consoling his wife, Doc charged into the legs of the veterinarian who neutered him. Later, we all agreed that was a deliberate act. The vet stumbled backward, bumping Chastity Goodwright, who lost her balance and jostled the beverage table. The punch bowl tipped and sploshed its red contents on Mom's white sofa.
The kitten doctor, obviously feeling triumphant and totally misunderstanding our commands, vaulted from the floor to a position of glory—the delicate valance balanced above the French doors leading to the pool.
We all held our breath. Waiting. Mom eyed her precious, platinum-mink kitty and fainted. Dad swooped in so she didn't hit the floor, but her ankle twisted, and my aunt had to take her to the emergency room.
As we filed out the door, Dr. Zhivago maintained his ballerina-pawed delicacy and surveyed the damage with one turquoise eye, as if to say, "What's the problem? The place looks great, and the cheesecake was awesome."
Revised 2014 January Cramp entry.
Thanks Lornda for highlighting this story in your 2014 April 30th Comedy Newsletter.
Thanks Joy for highlighting this story in your 2014 August 20th Drama Newsletter.
Thanks Ⱳƹ₿~ŴitcӉ for highlighting this story in your 2015 July 15th Comedy Newsletter.