Saturday, April 16, 2011

I should have stayed home and knitted by the fire.

Cat in the Driver's Seat. The lesser known sequel to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

This is Gir, The Sweetest Cat In The World.  He's on my lap in the car while we wait for the person in front of us to wrap up their business with the bank teller. I don't actually drive around with Gir on my lap (I take his welfare very seriously). It's just that we're on our way to the vet after the bank, and it's bad enough to wait in line for very long, but with a cat crying in a cage next to you for long minutes with no end in sight, well, it's awful. So I've turned the engine off, and gotten him out and settled with me.  Gir is happy now, and I'm a little bit happier, because, hey, cuddly cat, but we still aren't moving, and the car in front of me must be signing mortgage papers because I can't think of any drive through bank business that would take this long. 

Maybe it's not bank business, I think to myself. Maybe the teller and the driver are long lost relatives.  Or maybe they were best friends in high school, but they lost track of each other because the teller left before his senior year was over to follow his favorite band but wound up studying the Purple Martin of West Texas because the band broke up after their West Texas concert and after a night wandering stoned and lost in the fields behind the stage, he discovered the heartache caused by his disbanded musical heroes was soothed by the joyful chirruping of local birds. He was soon sending field reports to his high school counselor who was deeply moved by such devotion that he changed our Fearless Bank Teller's status from "drop out" to "work/study release", thus enabling him to get his G.E.D. diploma. He lived on fiddle head ferns and cricket legs and bathed in the one working stream of the West Texas Badlands.  He taught himself colloquial and formal Purple Martin, went on to document the rival Pink Polka Dotted Martin language, and then began a brief but effective stint as ambassador during the Martin/Turkey Vulture Kerfuffle of '09.  A young, rebellious Purple Martin (with shaved tail feathers and a beak piercing made of cedar elm twigs) consented to speak to a later reporter who embedded with the Turkey Vultures while she documented the eventual Peace Treaty of 2012 and recalled that our Fearless Bank Teller had lost patience for the constant politicking, illegal bribery and egg stealing that defined the conflict between the Purple and Pink Polka Dotted Martins and the Turkey Vultures and had left to research the nest building habits of the eastern Arizona Bullfrog as a palate cleanser. Amphibian nest building is a far cry from avian linguistics, as anyone knows, so the Fearless Teller's time among the bullfrogs was short and unsatisfying. Mud-covered, discouraged and looking for a new direction in life, he took his specialized skills in avian linguistics and politics and applied to the undergraduate program of Western-West-Far West Texas University to further pursue the pithy patois of feathered friends. He was not accepted, because just that week, the school's linguistics department had received a donation of ten million dollars. The department did what any god-fearing Texas institution dedicated to higher learning would do, and donated the money to the football team, who used the funds to hire a manicurist and hairdresser to foster morale of the team. The university then quickly dismantled the language program to help focus further donations that might wander in from devoted alumni.  Heartbroken, Our Hero hitchhiked his way north, paying his way with funds gathered by pickpocket Martin loyalists in gratitude for his diplomatic skills. He ran out of cash in Lawrence, Kansas, where he took a job as a teller at a Bank of America. During a break one day, he looked out at the typical Friday afternoon traffic of miles of cars waiting to go through the drive through teller window or the lone ATM and questioned his manager as to why a financial institution such as this one, newly flush with bailout billions, hadn't considered freeing up a small portion for an additional ATM. His superior advised him not to think about it, explaining that over-thinking wasn't the Bank of America way, and assigned him to the drive through, where he would be too busy to entertain seditious thoughts. He was busy and yes, not over-thinking, when he met his old high school friend through the bulletproof glass. He had only begun to chronicle a few details of his life since they'd last met to his long lost friend, who expressed her shock and joy because by amazing coincidence, she had been teaching herself Purple Martin through the Rosetta Stone language series, and had been longing for a partner with whom to practice this obscure but useful language and they had only just begun to gratefully and happily ponder at length such a happy twist of fate when their serendipitous reunion was rudely interrupted by the shocking sight of a crazed woman repeatedly and violently banging her head on her steering wheel, the car horn yelping when it hit her left cheekbone every two seconds, while the cat she'd inexplicably been holding shot out of her arms and was now hanging upside down by its claws in the car ceiling like a furry bat and shaking and squalling like a category 3 hurricane on the verge of wiping out a quaint seaside town.  As they watched in disbelief, the obviously insane woman was now attempting to back out of the drive through line over the raised sidewalk and grassy meridian so she could park in the bank lot that was beckoning just five feet away. They quickly resumed their conversation while valiantly ignoring the demon harpy because such unspeakable rudeness shouldn't be rewarded with attention, and also because it was obvious wasn't going anywhere even though she hadn't realized it yet, since Toyota has yet to invent a minivan that can climb a five foot tall retaining wall. After a life-affirming but scant forty minute conversation they regretfully drew their communion to a close and made plans to meet the next day, where they could further nurture their long lost friendship without any pesky time limits and perhaps even, though certainly gauche, indulge for just a moment their frustration due to the unbelievable rudeness of Certain People Who Bring Cats To The Bank before drawing their exchange back again into higher spheres of birdsong and companionship. 

After this touching scene ended, I restarted the engine and took my place at the teller window, incandescent with rage but grateful that all was not lost since it was still not five pm. But the window was dark, oddly enough. Not a soul could be seen inside the bank. It was closed. The ever helpful Bank of America had started their weekend while I waited (and waited) and now I had to drive out and all the way around the block to get in line at the ATM. There were two cars in that line as I left, but you know how this turns out don't you? If you guessed that ten cars pulled in before me just as I got went around the block, you're right, of course.

Gir's been inside this bag since we got home an hour ago. I know just how he feels.
Bonus Guessing Round: If you guessed that I missed the vet appointment because of a flat tire that I discovered after depositing a furious cat back in his crate, you get ten Gir points (they're small but cute).  If you are an overachiever and guessed that by this time freezing rain was blowing sideways into my face and up my skirt while I filled the tire, why are you wasting time reading this? There's big money to be made with your own psychic hot line.  Expect a call from a woman in Kansas asking if it's safe to leave her house again.                         


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