Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Zombie Squirrels

"You know how the squirrels have been taking the top off the bird feeder at home?" This is the question Jeff asks me during our drive-home check-in. "Well, there is one less squirrel in the neighborhood to steal our bird's tasty treats, because I hit a squirrel today while driving to work."

"WHAT!?" I shrieked while sitting in traffic on 93 South, "Did you stop to help it?"

"Well, I would have stopped to check on the squirrel if I hadn't hit it with both wheels AND if the two cars behind me hadn't hit it also."

"You killed another creature today! How can you stand it!?"

"Well, I wasn't happy about it when it happened, but it was only a squirrel."

I continued to moan into the phone, bereft with grief over the loss of the rodent life. "When I'm not overwhelmed with worry about becoming homeless or losing my hair I worry about hitting and killing small animals. I can't even drive over the flattest deadest roadkill without feeling like I'm crushing the animal's soul."

"If you are that concerned," Jeff nonchalantly replied, "why don't you check on the squirrel when you get home. I'm pretty sure you'll be able to see it in the road. And, if it is there can you go home and get the shovel..."

I interrupted. "I'm not going to check for the dead squirrel and I may not even go home tonight. Because I'm pretty sure there is a zombie squirrel waiting on our porch to kill me."

Monday, February 8, 2010

No Cat Disease

Childless by choice I often find myself having awkward conversations about babies with random strangers. In these conversations I give various explanations as to why Jeff and I choose not to have kids. "We love to travel and know we wouldn't have the money or the flexibility to travel the way we like to if we had kids," and "I give so much to children at work that I know there wouldn't be anything left over for my own children," are two of the more inane excuses. "I know parenting is a lot of work and I just don't have it in me," "We're both pretty selfish and would have a hard time with parenting," and "I've never had that burning desire to be a mom that drives so many women I know" are among the more honest and crass answers to the question, "Oh, you don't have kids? Why not?"

I was shopping for baby clothes for several friends who are in some state of pregnancy or new parenting the other day. A kindly older woman was ringing me out and making idle conversation about the pieces I had purchased. Inevitably she asked me if I had any kids. "No I replied. My partner has a chronic illness and he has decided NOT to take a risk and pass it on to any children." (This is a GREAT excuse to use if I want to abruptly end a conversation.) I continued with the sales clerk, "So we have the joy of visiting with other people's babies, and then going home together to be with our cats."

"Cats?" she said skeptically, "You have cats?" I felt a rush of judgment coming on. The clerk continued, "I've never met anyone who had a chronic illness who could also have a cat."

Dumbfounded I cocked my head at her and mentally began cataloguing all of the chronic diseases I knew of that didn't involve breathing - cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Huntington's Disease, Addison's Disease, Crohn's Disease, Colitis, any number of heart ailments. The list could go on. Then I looked back at the clerk, politely accepted the bag of gifts I had just purchased and walked out of the store without saying another word.