Friday, April 19, 2013

Babe and the Nova

The summer that we replaced our deck was one of the hottest on record, great unending clumps of heavy, sticky days with temperatures over 90, humidity to match, and the occasional thunder storms did nothing to cool the air.

My two older sons and my son-in-law were the main work crew along with my husband who held plumb lines, found tools, supervised here and there and handed out cash for emergency runs to Hechinger’s.

My role was that of chief cook and bottle washer, supplying entertainment for whichever grandchildren were on hand, keeping them out of the construction site, keeping ice water, iced tea and soft drinks on hand and supplying lunch and supper for anywhere from five to fifteen people depending on the head count.

On these weekends Babe, our Siamese cat, would disappear at the sound of the first car in the driveway.  She had several hiding places.  There was the basement, the closet in the upstairs bathroom or under one of the living room couches.  Under the deck was a favorite also, but due to the work, temporarily out.

She was leery of strangers and was particularly afraid of noisy rambunctious grandchildren.  Often we would not see her until the last car had pulled away and we would call "Babe" several times.  Then she would nonchalantly emerge from somewhere ready to resume normal life.

On one such Saturday, I decided that pizza was in order.  The deck was nearing completion and I had run out of menus.  Armed with various orders and cash in hand, I went to the carport and got in my Chevy Nova ready for the three block run to Little Caesar's.

Grandchildren, playing madly in the heat with their squirt guns, had to be shooed away and I pulled out of the driveway turning on the radio for music, without which I cannot drive.  I dialed the Takoma Park good music station and found organ music and a choir.  I remembered it was their Sabbath and Adventist services were on.  It sounded good.

As I turned the corner at the bottom of the hill, I became aware of a funny sound competing with the organ.  Was it a child crying?  Maybe an Adventist child in the congregation who was bored with things.  Now it sounded more like meowing.  My God, was it a cat?

I automatically glanced at the back seat.  No cat, but that was Babe's meow.  I recognized the nasal Siamese tones.  WAS SHE UNDER THE CAR?!  I started to panic as the sound continued and I approached Rockville Pike.  There was no place to stop now.  I was out in traffic.  Would she be all cut up?  Worse, would she fall out of wherever she was onto the road?

I reached the turn into Wintergreen Plaza and carefully pulled up in front of Little Caesars.  I got out of the car and peered underneath calling her all the time.  There was only meowing.  On my hands and knees now, still calling, I glanced up and explained to curious passersby:  "My cat's under the car." I got several odd glances, but no offers of help.

I was still panicky.  I reached under and felt fur.  Would I pull out a tail, other pieces of Babe, bloody entrails?  At last, still calling, I pulled out a wild-eyed, bushy-tailed frantic cat from her little niche of safety.

Crooning comforting things, I put her in the back seat and went for my pizzas.  On the way home, she was still very vocal, discussing her ordeal at great length.  She dashed into the house when the car stopped and disappeared under one of her couches.

I told whoever would listen about my wild adventure.  We decided that she had used up at least two or three of her nine lives and no one could figure out her cat seat under the car.

A year later, I needed a new muffler and waited as the Nova was raised high on the rack.  As the mechanic triumphantly pointed out the rusty remains of my old one, I looked quickly for special cat hiding places.

I could see nothing, nowhere that she could have climbed into.  It is still her secret.  I have thought of writing a testimonial to the Nova designers, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

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