Ardis

There is a time and place for everything. When you’re young your gonna do it all; climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow till you find your, yada — yada — yada. That changes over time. Grinding out a living even though you enjoy your work wears. Changing venues, occupational or geographic stimulates and inspires; at least for awhile. Sometimes this aroused state becomes exhausting. There is a fine line!

You have kids; a gift and a challenge. You have a dog: a challenge. You have cats; the challenge becomes a mixed blessing. The dark side.

After our lab came Whoopee, a tortoise shell beauty named after a movie star. We didn’t pick the name, she came with it. We liked Whoopee. The name stayed.

She liked me. She’d follow me around like a dog. It was nice to have something like me. Love I got, liking not so much sometimes.

Whoopee was active. Way too active to get a good night’s sleep. She wandered around a lot. Deception and subterfuge were my lot. If the intent was clear, she’d beat it under the nearest queen size bed. I’d trap and toss her in the downstairs bathroom – along with the cat box of course.

The kids wanted another “kitty.” I guess it was because if one was good, two had to be better. Anyway, the cat’s owners didn’t want to tell us the critter’s name. He was the result of an incestuous relationship. Shoulda known there would be issues. It finally came out, “Lard Ass.”

With young kids around we equivocated disclosing the name until a young friend of the family misunderstood an impulsive slip of the tongue, hearing “Ardis.” A rescue; “Ardis” it was.

Ardis was a bit wild ass until he got “snipped.” I think he was ever resentful thereafter as he took every opportunity to leave his mark, indoors or out. Early on before the “procedure”, he would run up your legs while you read the paper, using your genitals as a launch point for a leap over your head. Other times he got “lost,” cruising the neighborhood, one time ending up in the women’s dorm at the college. Just “cattin” around I guess.

“Whoopee” and “Ardis” were not buds. There was a lot of hissing; blood not thicker than water. After a particularly contentious encounter, “Ardis” pogo-sticked to see what the other one was doing. “Whoopee” right-crossed him sending him rolling across the floor.

One morning “Ardee” got clipped by a car after he wandered into the street. The kids were distraught. My inclination was to let nature take its course. This was not to be; got outvoted. $400 later and a lung re-inflation he was good to go.
After the kids left home and the dog died, we still had the cats until “Whoopee” disappeared one morning during an early April snowstorm. We still had “Ard.”

We moved to a new house – white carpet. This cat was not gonna live inside, especially with the “in-your -face” marking he liked so well. So I built a “catdominium” with outside access in the attached garage. It had everything: super insulated, electric pad for warmth and in severe conditions a 25 watt bulb that threw enough heat to brown bread. It worked.

“Ard” was a “Stoner” and an opportunist. Lounging on the picnic table on the deck, feet in the air, food fell from the sky. A passing Chickadee commits hari-kari schmucking into the picture window — free lunch. Chipmunks raiding the bird feeder — a leap and supper. Other times even before we could sit down to dinner on the deck – grab that chicken drummie and run.

“Ard’s” time was up; kidney failure, special diet. One March morning he passed on. He resided in the freezer until the spring thaw and then was planted next to the lagoon along with a willow tree. I go visit him now and then. The tree is doing fine.

Author: Doug Lewandowski

I have walked a varied path. I was a Christian Brother, an English teacher/counselor and Licensed Psychologist. I have a twice monthly column in the Duluth News Tribune and have had a story published in the Nemadji Review and placed third in this year’s Jade Ring contest of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. I was a commentator for KCRB, Minnesota Public Radio in the 90s. I transplanted to Duluth to be closer to grandchildren.

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