This morning we found an abandoned kitten outside the apartment. Well, actually, Duncan the Scottie “treed” it under the stairs and I dug it out from among spider webs and dead leaves. If I could pause writing now to show you a video of the pandemonium that ensued, that would be better than I could describe it. Since I can’t, I’ll do my best. I walk in with a screaming 3-day old kitten that looks more like a baby skunk or possum or rat. I will say that Duncan and I were both fairly proud of ourselves for the rescue–he was prancing while I was still covered in webs and leaves, grinning from ear to ear. Sarah, determined that she’s about to die from an oncoming cold, is sitting on the couch with her phone in her hand about to call in sick to work. She never did make that call; the immune system kicks in like a machine when there’s something bigger than us involved.
Within seven and a half minutes, Sarah was out the door on the way to Kroger, having given me instructions to keep the kitten warm at all costs and whatever I do–do NOT name it. Within eleven more minutes, she was back with two packages of bottle droppers, a feeding syringe, and cat milk. I had no idea one could buy cat milk at Kroger. How she knew still baffles me. Nevertheless, we were feeding, then “pooping” a kitten. For you who are uninitiated, you don’t even want to know about that one. I looked at Sarah. His name is Spike, I said.
Fast forward nine hours. Past the hot water bottle and the shoe box. Past packing up a diaper bag for a 4 ounce cat. Past a math department taking and a sorority adopting a kitten. Past the creation of its own Facebook page (which she checked until midnight, delighting at every “Friend Accept.”). Past my special trip to Petsmart to get a proper kitten bottle and newborn formula. Past the dog deciding that it was his baby and going into protect mode. Fast forward to choir practice (You didn’t see that coming, did you?).
This wasn’t our usual choir practice–that would have been too easy with a yelping kitten in a Chaps shoe box. This was for a benefit concert of fifteen choirs at a Catholic church out in the middle of nowhere–I reckon it was in some netherworld between Kennesaw and Marietta. That’s the best I could tell since she was doing the driving with the gps in one hand. Sarah has an interactive relationship with her gps, whom she has named Pilar. Pilar seems to me to put us mostly in the range of the destination, which lets Sarah yell contradictions and alternate routes back at her. Pilar, recall, is actually a phone. So I’m not actually sure where the church is located since I decided that the best plan was for the kitten to sleep through as much of the practice as possible–and the best chance of THAT would be if he had a full belly. Again, the video version of her driving and navigating with an obstinate Pilar while I am force feeding a kitten who, if he had NOT been in shock would surely be now–would surely be so much more vivid. You’ll just have to picture that. Anyway, we eventually got there, along with 100 other cars who were picking up their children from the parochial school. Once we explained to the (probably) Italian man directing traffic–IN (probably) ITALIAN–that we were actually there for the choir, he stopped yelling at us–not unlike Sarah had been engaging with Pilar–and we parked next to our deacon Lynn.
So as Lynn carried in armloads of our music, we loaded up with the diaper bag and the Chaps box with the hot water bottle and Spike. Looking back, I’m trying to imagine how we looked, a couple going in that big sanctuary, one of us with diaper bag in tow the other trying to hold a box to minimize jostling around the baby inside. Thing is, I’m pretty sure we looked like a couple to anybody who was looking, and not all the choirs there were from open and affirming churches. That’s ok, though, because ours was, and they were pretty much enchanted by Spike. With one minor exception–Lynn was not a fan of his name. I think you should name him Chaps, she said, clearly inspired by his carrying box. I don’t know if Sarah believes it’s bad luck to change a name like I do, or if she, like me, somehow wanted to honor the way our deacon had just honored something of us, but she decided–and I agreed–that Chaps would make a perfectly fine middle name–IF the first name had additional syllables (two monosyllabic names just don’t sound right).
So, that is how our deacon named our love child Chaps, and his name became Spikemandius Chaps TBDLastName, the Feline.