Thursday, October 11, 2007

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

(I just had to post on this. Back to memes tomorrow.)

You may have come to think of me as the Queen o’ Memes. Well, let me set the record straight. Long before I was the Queen o’ Memes, I was something else. I’m really the Queen of Making Life as Complicated as Possible. And Bob is the King of Same. This means we’re the sorts of people who get engaged, buy a house, move, and get married all in seven months. Did I mention we got married 400 miles from our home? Oh, and did I tell you that one of us had a job at the time that required him to be away from home for multiple days at a time at least once a month?

We’re also the sorts who accept a new job, move across multiple states, and plan an ordination service with 110 guests that takes place the day before one of us is supposed to start his new job four states away. This service also happens to fall three days before the first team of packers and movers arrives with the first truck (because, of course, we've chosen to live on one of those streets that does not accommodate semis, so the move has to be complicated by a need for two trucks) and a mere ten days before the second wave of packers and movers arrives. In the midst of all this, we decide we absolutely have to go see the King Tut exhibit in Philadelphia, because it didn’t come to New York, we’re not likely to make it to Egypt anytime soon, and we may be dead by the time it comes back to this country, if past history of U.S. tours of these artifacts is any indication.

Thus, we’ve moved. The worst part of that is over. We’re nowhere near being what anyone would call "unpacked." As a matter of fact, anyone walking into our house today would be perfectly within his or her rights to ask, “You mean you’ve been unpacking for the past five days? What do you do, unpack a shoebox per day?” However, we’re beginning to have an inkling of what it might feel like to be settled. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m having thoughts like, “Just ten boxes a day, and I should be done by Thanksgiving.” (I’m also having thoughts like “Where the hell did those %$#! packers bury that shower curtain, anyway?” But pastors’ wives aren’t supposed to think such things, so these thoughts are just whispering amongst themselves at the back of the class.)

Enter Francis. Francis arrived yesterday evening just in time for dinner. Actually, it was the second time Francis had arrived for dinner, and this was Act IV of this new version of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” Act I was set at the home of some church parishioners. I wasn’t there to witness its scenes, but from what I’ve been told, it involved a new pastor, here all by himself, his angelic wife left back up in Connecticut to weed junk from the old house, who’d been invited for dinner. After dinner, the grandchildren were outside playing, when they suddenly all burst in excitedly announcing “cat!” The exact lines are a mystery to me, but I gather the adults weren’t buying, the children were persistent, and finally everyone went out to find, not a cat, exactly, but rather, an extremely starved, half-dead, little marmalade kitten, whereupon all the adults started asking the pastor, “Didn’t you just say you were going to get a kitten?” The pastor (from what I can tell, very unconvincingly) replied, “Yes, but not right now.” After more urging, he seems to have resorted to (the old standby), “I’ll have to see what my wife says,” at which point, they immediately began urging him to pick up his cell phone and call said wife. Thank God she wasn’t around to receive the call.

Act II involved an answered phone call to the wife later that night. The pastor (who didn’t even like cats until he met his wife and the cat she had when they got married) was almost convincing about how sweet this little kitten was. He tried to break his wife’s soft heart by telling her the sad story of how the little thing had been abandoned and was nearly dead, so skinny and so tiny it was. The wife, who had seemed so angelic in those first few scenes, happily preparing the old home for the movers with nary a complaint, suddenly became mean and uncaring, repeatedly saying, “We can’t get a kitten now.”

Act III took place in a church, a parishioner rushing up to wife two days after the wife had moved down and was feeling headachy and not herself, inviting her to “come see the kitten, because I hear it’s all up to you as to whether or not you take him” and the wife feeling she couldn’t possibly say no. She did tell the woman that they couldn’t take the kitten now, that they had no place for him, that the house was completely chaotic. The next morning she went to visit the kitten. And then we come to Act IV, and well, we all know what happened in Act IV, kitten arriving in grand style, with bed and litter box and toys and food dishes, and, of course, food for dinner.

This is not how it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be a completely different play, a children’s play entitled “Puppy and Kitten Come Home to the Pastor’s House.” It was supposed to happen about three months from now. The pastor and his wife were going to be happily settled into their new home and feeling in want of the sound of paws and claws prancing around on hard wood floors. They were both going to come to the conclusion at the exact same time that it was finally time to get a puppy and a kitten. They were going to find one of each who needed homes and bring them to a home that had been completely prepared (read “kitten-and-puppy-proofed”) for their arrival. These two were going to grow up together and be great friends, the puppy thinking it was a cat and the kitten thinking it was a dog. The playbill was supposed to be accompanied by lots of cute photos of the new friends together taken by the pastor’s wife, who would finally have learned how to take and download digital photos by the time these furry residents arrived. The kitten was not supposed to arrive now, in the midst of unpacked boxes, possible poisons, and two frazzled humans, one of whom keeps going around saying, “Where the hell did the %$#! packers bury the camera and its directions?” (Must be the pastor, because pastors’ wives aren’t supposed to say such things.)

You’ll just have to take my word for it: he’s cute as a button. How could a five-week-old marmalade kitten not be? Oh, and if you’re wondering about the name: St. Francis, of course, Patron Saint of Animals. When the dog finally comes along, she will be Clare: St. Clare, for whom Francis was a great mentor. Maybe it’s appropriate, after all, that Francis came along first?


Anonymous said...

Awww... You must find that camera and the directions! I have a weakness for marmalade kittens.

Froshty said...

Pets, like children, never come when they're planned. They show up, unannounced, just when you think, "I don't know if I can handle one more stressor in my life without either eating an entire pan of brownies or checking myself into a spa." I'm thrilled that Francis as a marmalade--we have one of our own. They're my favorites, as you also know.

Rebecca H. said...

That's great. It never works quite like it's supposed to, but that makes it all the more fun, right??

Emily Barton said...

Hobs, yes I must. He'll be a cat soon, if I don't hurry. (But no such luck so far.)

Froshty, don't tell me this means I'm about to find out I'm pregnant :-)!

Dorr, yes, much more fun. On a certain level, this sweet little distraction is exactly what Bob and I needed right now.