Crouching Tiger, Hidden Adventures in Babysitting

On Friday night, we were asked to babysit J’s one-year old nephew. His sister and bro-in-law would be going out for a couple hours for dinner, literally minutes down the road. They’d put the baby to bed before they left. “Feel free to order a movie on VOD”.

Jeez, this sounds sweet. We should be doing this every weekend!

Now I’m gonna preface this with some (far too much) info about PMS. Particularly as it occurs in me. But I need to emphasize (to those of you who have a girlfriend/wife): this does not apply to everyone! Believe me, there is nothing worse than not being taken seriously because “she’s just PMS’ing”. So please, if your lady-friend is acting, in your opinion, irrational or hyper-emotional, she should be listened to and taken seriously. Don’t make assumptions. You’re not a doctor (unless you are). However, if it’s me you’re talking to, you would be correct in assuming that I am, indeed, out of my mind, bat-shit crazy. Because pre-menstrual hormone surges make me more whacked than a crack addict in an alley talking to his exposed penis. Please, humor me and wait it out. Some believe that PMS is not even an actual thing. But I know for certain it is a reality. A bleak reality. Alive and thriving in my world. Confusing and frightening innocent bystanders.

So yeah. I was PMS’ing. Now no more divulging of unwanted information, I swear.

Within minutes of their leaving, I was ugly crying. I think it was about being homesick. Hard to say. I couldn’t really understand what I was saying what with all the snot and a continuously replenished mouthful of potato chips.

Poor J was the recipient of this blubbering. He was pretty much under attack. Just when he managed to calm me down, I’d change the subject. And re-emerge with a whole new batch of snot, tears and inconsolability.

It was ugly. J suggested that maybe we should watch a movie. So I flopped over the ottoman and rummaged through its drawers for a DVD. I guess Mikka didn’t like this.

[Oh yeah. I forgot to mention they have two grown cats. Niko and Mikka. Mikka, I learned that evening, suffers from anxiety “episodes” for which he is usually medicated. Bless his heart.]

He let out a long hiss. Kkkkkkkkkkkkkhhhhhhhhh. Teeth exposed.

“Jesus!”, I jumped back off the ottoman and huddled in the corner of the couch.

[I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not what you’d call a “cat person”.]

J (who must have been thinking “Fuck! Just when she calms down…”) walked toward the DVD drawer (the cat was huddled low next to the ottoman). He looked back at me. “Heather. He’s just a cat. He didn’t mean anything by it.”

I’m not sure that J even had all of that out of his mouth, when he turned back to the cat who, somehow, was producing harmonizing hiss sounds while assuming a stone-rigid, hind-legged crouching stance. Paws up. Claws bared. Teeth bared. Gentle Jesus.

J, not having expected this, leaned back quickly, but not before the cat started taking swipes. And this is a pretty big cat. He got J in the leg, actual broke the skin. Or as I liked to call it that night in my bubble of premenstrual hyperbole, “he drew blood!”

At this point J moved back towards me. I was now cowering in the corner of the couch. The cat stared him down, still hissing. I was horrified. With every move J made, it hissed more.

[Note: What’s nice about adult relationships is that you’re a team. No matter what the obstacle or conflict, you’ve got each other’s back. Fine print: Unless, one partner is hopped up on hormones and there is an angry cat.]

I completely left J out there to drown. In fact, I demanded he sit his 6’6 frame on the tiny inch of couch in front of me (having already built a frenzied pillow-fort around my other three sides). I was a mess. I would have bolted except that the cat would kill me. When retelling this story to J’s sister, she pointed out that, perhaps, another reason for not bolting was her one-year old under my care.

Yes. That was the main reason. The second reason being imminent death by the snarling puma.

(I believe this photo of Mikka was taken last Christmas. Precious.)

After several minutes, it seemed the cat was calming down. J tried to get up to get a movie but I reminded him that there was no way in hell he was moving.

[Did I mention I was still ugly crying? The only thing uglier than my ugly cry is my fear-ridden ugly cry.]

Finally the cat crossed us and went into the dining room, assuming position so that he was still eye-murdering our every move. I found some solace in the fact that he was farther away. But was painfully aware of the fact that he now stood between me and the door, my salvation.

As horrified as I still was, I let J break away from my clutches to turn on a movie. Poor guy. This night so far must have been hell for him. He turned on a movie and plunkered back down on the couch, placing a tray between us with chips and beers. He only had to pause the movie a handful of times to allow my mad-vocal ugly cry to wane.

Poor guy.

I can’t remember when the move happened; maybe he was turning to hand me another Kleenex. But either way, he moved too quickly, knocking over the beer bottle on the tray between us. Beer spilled over me. J jumped up, spilling more. He jammed his thumb in the top, which just made it spray. Jeremy was all limbs and beer spray and a string of obscenities. And it all happened so fast. Needless to say, Mikka, the anxiety-ridden dragon, was awakened. In addition to a multitude of stiff yoga poses with bared fangs, he stalked J into the kitchen and cornered him. I sat there in Coward’s Corner, covered in a pile of Kleenex and soaked in beer. The couch was also drenched. All I could see was J’s upper half behind the kitchen counter. He was looking down whispering threats to the cat, now at his feet hissing and emitting this grotesque, guttural wail. It was awful. If it were me, I would have tucked-and-rolled over the counter and thrown myself over the balcony. J refused to submit.

He made it somehow out of the kitchen and back to the living room with the demon cat hissing and howling and taking swipes. It was then that J revealed to me that Mikka has “anxiety issues” for which he takes medication.

That’s great news!

We were stalked and hissed/wailed at the whole time we desperately removed all the couch cushions, scrubbed them individually and laid them around the room to dry in front of the fan.

[Totally change the mood and appearance of the only familiar place he has? That’s gotta be the right way to calm an angry, anxious cat having an “episode”!]

He was not impressed.

We sat on the floor. Two pieces of shit with sad faces. Couch soaked, cushions everywhere. I was drenched in a combo platter of beer and fear sweats. And before watching even a minute of the movie (under the demonic gaze of a crazed feline), the baby started crying.

J went in first. Without thinking, I followed him with a bottle of milk in hand. He was in the chair rocking the baby when I realized how scary I must look: a relative stranger, vaguely visible in the darkness, a few feet away, wearing giant glasses and looking somewhat bedraggled (to put it nicely). So (again, without thinking), I crouched down as low as I could. Into a ball.

The baby was howling. But, rocking in J’s big arms, he seemed to be calming a little. J decided to check his diaper. Yep. Ze poop. Moving him to the change table brought on a new flood of baby wails. I had not moved from my creepy, crouched pose.

J looked quite skilled at what he was doing, and the baby seemed to be settling. Maybe this was all he needed! That’s when the baby turned his head to look whence the mannish whispers came. To see me, crouched low in the darkness. I can only imagine this horrifying image affected him in the same way Angela, in the final scene of Sleepaway Camp, affected me as a child. His cry reached its fever pitch.

Now that my cover was blown, I stood to help J with the diaper. With both of us working together, we only had to rotate the diaper seven times before deciding that the longer sticky flappies should go in the back.

J decided that maybe he should leave and I should take a turn rocking the baby and encouraging the bottle. As I rocked him and sang the “happy birthday” song (his birthday’s in April) for the fourth time, and as his eyes grew wider and his cries louder, I decided that this kid has been horrified enough. He wanted his beautiful blonde momma, not a swarthy, fuzzy, goggled, damp stranger with disproportionately large forearms, crazy, smiling eyes and residual internal whimpers from the night’s freakshow thus far. Stinking of beer. Singing the ironically jolly jingle, no less.

I spared him any further The Hand that Rocks the Cradle action and placed him in his crib; still crying but in a much sleepier fashion.

When I returned to the living room, J informed me that Mikka had been waiting for him when he left and remounted his attack with renewed vigor.

I think it was as we discovered the beer stains in the couch cushions – fully dried and painfully visible – that we heard the keys in the door.

I looked at the clock. 10:37 pm. They had only been gone two hours. Yet I was ready to shoot SOS signals off the balcony.

“Wow, you guys are home early. You should have stayed out later!” was J’s genuine reaction. That man’s got it way more together than I do, I’ll tell ya that.

My response sounded more like, “Thank Jesus, you’re home! Holy fuck, you’ll never believe our night! First off, I’m gonna blog about it if that’s ok…” And I then rehashed the story.

So you see, any ordinary night can be blog-worthy if it contains at least three of the following:

  • elevated blood-estrogen levels in one or more parties
  • one anxious animal with anger management issues
  • a small person who poops in his/her pants
  • beer sprayed into the air onto both people and furniture

Try it!

Your, now hormonally-balanced HOAR

Applying for Jobs. Or Not.

I wanted to write a post about how intense the ball suckage is when it comes to applying for jobs. Especially jobs that, deep down, you don’t really care about.

Then I had a glass of wine. Then another. This one’s the third. For those of you thinking, shiiiiit, girl, this shit was funny before but I’m thinkin’ you gotta problem, girrrrl…

[No one talks like that.]

…Chill. Unbunch those panties (grossest thing I’ve ever typed). It’s the first time I’ve had wine in several weeks. I think I’ve fallen out of love with it. But tonight it’s just cold and rainy… and it was available, so why not?

[I sound like such a HOAR.]

So I sat down in front of the laptop to write and got distracted by a video of an awesome high school commencement speech by a teacher in Boston. Which then, obviously, landed me on a stream of Taylor Swift music videos on YouTube. I honestly can’t recall the convoluted path that lead me there, but man… She did not see that canoe proposal coming.

Anyway, after fourteen minutes of furiously weeping for T-Swift’s misfortunes in the game of love, I reflected back on the message in the graduation speech. And I started questioning what sorts of jobs I even want to be applying for.

[ Awesome.]

I suddenly felt as committed to this job search as I was that summer I decided I’d become a lounge singer on a cruise ship. [Not even kidding.]

I thought maybe I should take a shower to clear my head. Re-gather my thoughts.

Now, avid HOAR readers are aware that my dead, dead hair falls out in the shower. Annnnnnd, then I stick it to the wall to spare the drain. It’s sexy in some countries. Anyway, as I stood there waiting for my conditioner to do something for once, I stared at the hair mounds (heh…”mounds”) on the wall and thought: this. is. art.

Ok. I know. It’s gross on initial observation. But if you can be mature enough to drink three glasses of wine and stand in a unnecessarily hot shower for twenty minutes, you will see the true beauty in this one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

What I’m seeing is a tragic glimpse of an elderly couple. He has just died and she has caught him in her arms. She leans down and cradles his limp body. His pipe, having fallen from his lips, still smoulders on the ground.

[It’s Lindeman’s Bin 99 Pinot Noir – delicious – that I’m drinking. In case you were curious. And hey, while we’re here, health check opportunity: Did you know that pinot noir has the highest antioxidant content of all red wines? I kid you not. Sip that shit.]

Miracle #2: The title is in the works. I’m not sure whether to settle on, “A Holy Shower Guest” or “Who Stretched the Cat in the Hat and Where is his Face?”. I feel no elaboration is needed (wanted).

[Note: I in no way altered these hair blobs. My need to point that out is sad for so many reasons.]

And finally: Winner of Homespun magazine’s 374th best photo of the day; I call this one, “New Addition”:

[Not to be confused with New Edition – the delightful R&B group of the 1980’s.]

Clearly – if you’ve had a chance to run to the liquor store to buy the Bin 99 Pinot Noir and then consume four glasses – this is a heartwarming image of a couple; the larger partner in back, the smaller partner snuggled in front holding the new baby; both looking down upon their creation in awe.

Three things should be concluded here. 1. Art truly comes to life in the mind of the beholder; 2. Red wine apparently has more in common with LSD than the FDA is willing to disclose; and 3. I need to clean my shower.

I no longer have any interest in looking for “health jobs” and conveying the pain of the search as I’d originally intended. I think because – according to the teacher giving that great commencement speech – we should devote our lives to doing what we’re passionate about. Whether that’s a hobby, a volunteering endeavor, a job, parenthood, a relationship, whatever. There needs to be genuine passion. And, without a doubt, I find that in writing. Even when it’s wine infused and happening on a Friday night.

So I feel I’ve accomplished more here, writing, than I would have if I had summoned Workopolis to “find me a future”.

For the record, I have a job. I guess I’m just a (happily) restless soul.

I hope you’re happy in whatever you’re doing right now.