Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Over the River and Through the Puke...

'm joining in Something Clever 2.0's (see link in Blogs I Read or at the end of this post) Theme Thursday for the first time and the topic is What Do You Love/Hate About Christmas.  And I  got so fired up by the topic, I inadvertently created a POUS (Post of Unusual Size).  Sorry!

To be honest, my favorite things about Christmas are probably just like everyone else’s…food, family, presents and more food. Those are the things I’ve always loved.  But the main thing I hate about Christmas  is a more recent development: traveling.  See, my husband, Opie, and I  got married in 2011 and moved from St. Louis to Oklahoma…we are now 6 hours from his family and 8 from mine.  But we go home every year…

Which wouldn’t be a problem if we would just FLY like normal people.  But I am not "normal people"  I am one of those freaks who ascribe human emotions to their pets.  And I just know that if we leave them in a kennel—especially on Christmas!—they will be traumatized, emotionally scarred, and probably suffer lifelong abandonment issues.

And, yes, I know that’s a little bit completely insane…but you should see these animals when I start packing.  Peek-a-Boo, my Chihuahua, goes and gets his favorite stuffed toy and gets in his crate.  Then he gives me the sad eyes and occasional yip.

He KNOWS we’re leaving...and he's a good traveler so I never even consider leaving him behind.
Prince the Cat is NOT a good traveler, in fact he's the worst traveler ever but he also knows we’re leaving and actually packs himself, daring me not to take him:

To be fair, Bubba, our ½ Rottweiler ½ beagle, never picks up on the “we’re leaving” clues but it doesn’t seem right to leave him behind just because he’s kind of dumb.

But the drive is a NIGHTMARE.
Last year, we made what can only be categorized as the “worst decision ever.” We decided to leave a day earlier than planned, right after Opie got off work, so it would get dark quickly, all the animals would go to sleep and we would zip down the road in Yuletide bliss.

Because nothing says Yuletide bliss like digging around in the dark back seat of a car, looking for something to wipe up cat puke.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…here's how the drive went in (sort of) a nutshell:

4:30 PM  Opie loads the car. Peek is in his travel crate, Prince is in his travel crate, and both are safely seat-belted into the back seat.  I spend a few minutes worrying that Bubba will think we love him less since he doesn’t get strapped in… But we rescued Bubba from a bad situation and he spent too much of his early life in a cage; it would take 6 ninjas, a Navy Seal, and about 3 rolls of duct tape to put him in a travel crate.  Instead Opie wrestles him into the front seat and Bub & I get into a shoving match over who gets the actual seat and who’s going to sit on the floor.

I win the battle but it’s not what you would call a decisive victory…I’m pretty sure he’s just regrouping and planning a new strategy.

4:58 PM We pull out of the driveway.

4:59 PM Prince decides that we put him in the travel crate by mistake on our part and he yowls a few times to make sure we're aware of our error.
5:05 PM Prince realizes that we aren't listening, don't care, or have gone deaf.  He exponentially increases the volume of his cries.
5:07-5:52 PM Opie and I randomly—but frequently—assure each other that the cat will eventually tire himself out and stop crying—maybe even before our eardrums burst.   Bubba starts to empathize with Prince—possibly remembering his own crate issues—and begins panting and shaking and drooling all over my leg.
5:53 PM I finally snap and, with Ninja-like agility, twist in my seat, yank the cat out of his crate, maneuver him into his harness, click on a leash, and manage not to break a limb or accidentally-on- purpose break his neck.

5:54 PM Cat saves own life by curling up into adorable ball on my lap and going to sleep.  And we have almost 40 minutes of peace…until
6:27 PM Prince wakes up, leaps to his feet, and lets out the most disturbing yowl I’ve ever heard…then throws up all over my lap.  While I’m still trying to mentally process THAT, Prince yowls again, and I almost get him into the litter box in time.

And this is where Opie’s brand of crazy rears its ugly head…normally mild-mannered and easy-going, there is something about cross-country travel that brings out the obsessive-compulsive in him and he gets absolutely manic about “making good time.” He plans the routes, the one and only potty break, and every other detail down to the exact second.   And he’s so obsessed that he manages to keep driving like nothing is wrong, flying past exit after exit.

“We need to pull over,” I tell him.
“I was going to stop and get gas in Springfield,” he says.

“Springfield is a hundred miles away,” I snap.
“No…maybe ninety,” he counters.

And he is absolutely serious.
Which is why I am forced to start screaming at him “If you think I’m spending an HOUR AND A HALF covered in cat puke and gagging on the stench of cat shit, you are OUT OF YOUR DAMN MIND!”

And, in his defense, I only had to scream at him three more times until he pulled over.
Of course it ended up being a tiny little gas station in the middle of nowhere…and of course there ended up being a million people there…and of course there were already two ladies in line for the single stall restroom. But women are awesome.  All I had to do was announce “My cat just puked all over me,” and they grasped the gravity of the situation immediately…it was like Moses and the Red Sea…they parted and waved me to the front of the line.

7:15 PM We get back on the road and manage to travel for an entire hour and a half with no drama.  Until…
8:45 PM We stop at Opie’s designated rest stop, walk both the dogs and let the cat roam free in the car for a few minutes. The cat decides to refigure the seating arrangements and settles himself on the driver’s side dash board—furiously fighting my attempts to dislodge him.

8:50 PM I get the cat back on my lap and try to remember why I once thought declawing was cruel.
9:45 PM We hit a huge pothole, the entire car shakes, Bubba decides this is the scariest thing that has ever happened and concludes that the best way to make everyone feel better would be if he threw his huge Rottweiler self on my lap too-which doesn't really work in our compact car. I spend most of the rest of the drive pushing his paws, head, and other random body parts off the seat as makes about 30 attempts to force his way onto my lap.  I try to remember why no one declaws dogs.

10:30 PM We turn onto the highway that will take us the last 70 miles…a little two-lane highway right through the middle of Deliverance country.  I begin imagining dueling banjos and freaks who comment on the beauty of my mouth.
10:47 PM Prince wakes up, stands up and makes the horrible sound again.  And I know what that sound means now so I start screaming “Pull over, pull over, pull over!”  But not before Prince, once again, vomits all over my legs.

Opie has learned enough from our first puke episode that he begins looking for a place to stop but it's difficult because we are on a back highway in the middle of the night, plus there’s a cop in front of us, pulling someone else over.
But we are risk takers—and a little desperate—so we shoot around the cop and whip into the parking lot of this tractor business that was closed for the night.  I grab the cat, preparing to run around to the back of the car and throw him in the litter box, when not one but TWO cop cars pull in behind us with lights and sirens going.

I still want to jump out but Opie is emphatically against springing out of a dark car in front of armed men with a suspicious bundle in your arms.

Anyway, I wait until one of the cops approached the window and Opie calls “We’ve got a sick cat here.”

Then, pushed to the edge by the proximity of more puddy-cat poop,  I leap out yelling “Sick cat!  We’ve got a sick cat!”  over and over while running around the car and flinging Prince in the litter box in the nick of the time.
A few seconds later, crisis averted, I pick him back up and the cop gets a good look at him for the first time. Which is, admittedly, a touch disconcerting for anyone who doesn’t know him.

“Is that one of those hairless cats?”  He asks.
When I say yes, he nods and kind of stands there sheepishly for a long minute…so I say “Do you want to touch him?  Because everyone does.”

And you know what?

He did.
11:00 PM We finish cleaning everything up and getting the odor of the car down to a bearable level and get back on the road. 

And Opie says  “I told you we shouldn’t bring—“

“If you finish that sentence,” I say with frightening calm.  “I will actually kill you.  I will rip your head off with my bare hands and throw it out the car window.  Then, when I go to trial, I’ll plead temporary insanity…and if there’s even one woman on the jury, I’ll probably walk.”

I think it scared him that I had everything so well planned…but at least the journey was almost over and there was wine waiting for me at his parents’ house.  And I guess the drive was worth it because we had a wonderful time seeing all the family and not worrying about the pets’ emotional well-being…and we haven’t learned a darn thing, because in just over two weeks, we’re packing the whole car and the whole clan and doing it all over again…
Be afraid!

To read other Theme Thursday posts by the people who inspired me to write mine, follow the link below:


  1. This was hilarious! Side note: Is Prince hairless?

  2. He is...I'm allergic to cat fur so he was the only kind of cat I could get...but he thinks he's a dog because he was raised with 2 puppies!

  3. Omg, omg, extra squees. My hubs wants a hairless cat. I think they're so cute. He is very cute, peeking out of the bag.

  4. Upon hearing "half Rottweiler, half beagle," I HAVE to know... Which was the mom, and which was the dad?

  5. @The Sleepy Bard--they're great and, as a breed, smarter and more personable than a lot of cats. But they do NOT travel well!

    @ Jen--we have discussed the logistics of that endlessly and have concluded the mom had to be the beagle!

  6. So funny!!! Great post! Now imagine doing all the but with two kids going from NY to FL. We had a "blast". I don't know who had it worse.

  7. SO FREAKING FUNNY! I hate driving on a regular day...I can't even imagine the gumption it requires to take to the open road during the holidays for any longer than an hour or two! Bless your little heart for your commitment to family and the holidays to endure that ; ) And thanks for the laugh!!

  8. OMG! This was hilarious!!! I read it with my 8 year old son (silently reading a few words/sections to myself) and we both loved it and laughed through it! Great post!

  9. Thanks ladies! I keep trying to laugh about it before we all head out again!

  10. OMG, you just reminded me why we basically only do weekend aways. I have never tried to take because my cat sounds like prince, only not hairless, so instead I call and talk to them over answering machine. Hee hee