Listen to the Angels!
By Kathy Warnes
Since I’ve been spending December mornings at home, Bob Cat scratches on my bedroom door until I open it. Then he jumps up in my arms and won’t move until I hug him.
Right now, I need the hug more than he does, right now that I don’t have a job. I bury my nose in his white fur and scratch him behind the ears. He purrs so loud that I call him Bob Cat.
Bob isn’t really a bob cat. If he had to swear with all four paws on the Bible about his ancestry, he would claim alley cat. Technically, Bob isn’t even a true alley cat. He is part tabby, part calico but mostly mystery. He can’t wipe his paw
prints on any definitive feline door mat. He‘s definitely a fat cat because he doesn’t do much of anything all day except eat and sleep and he wouldn’t recognize an alley if it rolled a garbage can at him.
I feel flattened like an alley has rolled a garbage can at me since I ‘m not getting up and going to work every day. Two months ago Mr. Brunner called me into his office and told me he was laying me off. I signed up for unemployment right
away, and I started sending out resumes and trying to network a new job, but the economy is flattening job hunters like a garbage truck, not a garbage can. I know it’s early to expect anything, but I do anyway. I have several interviews,
but nothing happens.
My emotions are as tangled as Bob Cat gets my shoe laces when he plays with them. Some days I feel like I’m on vacation and I eat popcorn and catch up on my movies. Other days I spend glued to my computer, chasing an elusive job that moves faster than a mouse click. “The jobs that are there go faster than a mouse click,” I complain out loud. Bob’s ears wiggle at the word mouse, but he isn’t motivated enough to move out of the recliner.
He can stay in the recliner. My boyfriend Tim’s coming over for dinner tonight and I have to become human before he arrives. Becoming human involves cleaning house, cooking dinner, and talking calmly, not screaming the word JOB multiple times. Bob doesn’t clean. When Bob isn’t sleeping, he is a retriever. He slips a sliding paw in my dresser drawer and brings my underwear out into the living room for show and tell. Tim enjoys that. One day last week, Bob slipped and slid a paw into my purse and fished out a twenty dollar bill. He pranced proudly into the living room with the money in his mouth. I managed to retrieve it before he ate it.
Today Bob needs to stay out of trouble. Today I am going to put up my Christmas tree and Tim is coming over tonight for a tree admiring party. The tree branches scratch my face as I take it out of the box and suddenly there are tears in my eyes. My tears keep falling on the ornaments as I put them on the tree. They’re so bright with the hope and promise of Christmas, yet they spend most of the year waiting for new life in dark shadowy boxes. “Sort of like my life at this point,” I tell Bob.
Bob twists my Christmas spirit to fit his own agenda. While I’m in the bedroom looking for my extra Christmas tree skirt, he wrestles an ornament off of my newly decorated tree and bats it around the floor. The ornament retaliates by shattering into several reproachful pieces. While I clean up the ornament mess and eat lunch, Bob moves on to the next activity. This time he investigates my choir of angels that I put under the Christmas tree every year. While I am washing up my lunch dishes Bob makes friends with the angels. He gets overly friendly with a Styrofoam angel with a song book in her hands. After lunch when I go in to hang extra ornaments on the tree I discover a headless angel with a song book in her hands in the angel choir.
I interrogate Bob for the rest of the afternoon and even threaten him with the torture of no cat food in the can, but he doesn’t tell me what happened to the Styrofoam angel’s head. Somehow in my mind the headless angel becomes the Grinch in my Christmas - the Christmas that losing my job and feeling worthless has stolen. I sit on the couch by the Christmas tree and cry.
I want to curl up on the couch under my afghan and eat chocolates for the rest of my life. I want to throw the words resume, job, and earn a living in the garbage disposal and chop them into atoms. Bob jumps up in my lap and rubs his head against my chin. I bury my face in his polka dotted fur and keep time in my head with the steady rhythm of his heart. He licks my hand and purrs and I feel the warmth of his love. He depends on me. He knows that I am his source of cat food and comfort. I may want to throw up my hands and throw in the towel, but Bob will be there. He’ll rub against my thrown up hands when he’s hungry and retrieve the towel when he needs it. What’s worse, he’ll keep depending on me and purring at me.
I need to depend on me. I need to retrieve the angel’s head. I look in Bob’s favorite hiding places – one behind the refrigerator and the other under my bed. All I find is cat hair, dust, and a toy mouse I bought for him. I move to the living
room and investigate the bookcase. No angel. I check behind the couch. The Styrofoam angel’s head isn’t there. All I find is a pair of my socks that Bob retrieved from my dresser drawer. I keep looking and late in the afternoon I find the Styrofoam angel’s head behind the recliner.
I retrieve the Styrofoam angel’s head and get out my Super Duper glue. It takes me a good hour, but I kept trying and drying until I get that angel’s head glued back on. Fixing up the angel makes me late fixing dinner so the spaghetti is still boiling when Tim rings the doorbell. I throw open the door and hug Tim. “Dinner isn't ready yet, but a headless angel and a Bob Cat angel talked to me this afternoon and I’m going to keep