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Meet the F#ckers

My grandcat is an a$$hole.

I love her, and she is so pretty, but she’s a huge a$$hole. Her brother is much more lovable but he comes with his own challenges.

It’s Week Six? Seven? Don’t know, time has no meaning in the Upside Down. It’s whatever week it is, and my wife should be ecstatic but she is not. She should be ecstatic because our 20-something children are home with us again, ejected from their normal lives by COVID-19. Six months ago this would have been the best possible state of affairs, together again with those closest to us. The band reunited for one, spectacular farewell tour.

Of course, how could we have known that the band would be a cage match featuring REO Speedwagon, the Grateful Dead and Neckdeep, with Gilbert Gottfried as the opening act? There’s a reason no one should know how sausage is made; this is the reason.

As of today, here’s who’s/what’s in my house:

  • My Wife, trying desperately to balance working from home with not working from home. As a sideline she conducts stress management groups, which in the new Zoom world have become outrageously stress-inducing.
  • My Daughter, my oldest, who graduated college in December, took a brief victory lap, began to work in her chosen field for a hot minute, then watched as the nonessential world ground to a stinking halt. 
  • My Daughter’s Boyfriend, who – thank God – we like a lot and enjoys the latitude that distinction provides.
  • My Son, 21, a junior percussion performance major in college. Also his drumset. And a vibraphone on loan from the college. What’s a vibraphone? It’s a marimba with a pedal. What’s a marimba? It’s a vibraphone without the pedal. Jesus, get out and see the world a little, will you?
  • Gus, my 19 ½ year old cat, AKA Skeletor, who has developed a heat-seeking 6th sense and lately appears to see litterboxes everywhere. They are not.
  • Phyllis, the aforementioned a$$hole grandcat. Phyllis is a tortoiseshell/tabby mix, very likely a descendant of Marie Antoinette and Scarlett O’Hara. She believes she is vacationing at a favorite resort, and we are about to lose our 5-star rating.
  • And Pants, the aforementioned grandcat brother. Yes, Pants. His full name is Sir Elton John Pants, but you try and call any creature by that name. I dare you. Pants is what my daughter lovingly calls a Derp. I’m not sure it’s a real word, but say the word “Derp” and whatever image comes to your mind, that’s it, that’s who he is. He is big, happy, stupid, friendly, clumsy and has a big cone on his head because he’s allergic to something we have yet been able to successfully identify and it was making him try to eat himself. 
  • Oh, and me. I lurk in the basement. Perhaps you can understand why.

I love my kids, I do. My daughter’s boyfriend and her two cats receive a pass, they are grandfathered in (literally) to the love contract by association. I am genuinely happy to have them here, close by, safe from the invisible growing menace outside.

I am also losing my mind.

In the last week:

  • Phyllis broke into our bedroom – the one sanctuary Skeletor retains, where he can eat, sleep and poop without fear of commentary or reprisal – and then the master bathroom where she up-ended the midsized potted palm hidden there (from her), dumping dirt, rocks and debris into the bathtub.
  • We spent $400 on groceries. Let me say that again: We spent $400 on groceries. 
  • I actually said this to my daughter: "Where is YOUR bourbon?!"
  • I got an email from our homeowners association asking that my son close his bedroom window when he practices, because “people are working from home and they have conference calls, etc.” I got this email while I was working from home, on a conference call. Etc.
  • I discovered that if I scratch Pants’ butt in just the right spot he involuntarily licks the inside of his cone. I fear this is some kind of primal, sexual response but I do it anyway because it’s funny.
  • I swear I saw Phyllis flip me off, right to my face. It was early, and I wasn’t completely awake yet, but I swear she did.

Beyond this there are all the same mundane challenges so many of us are facing: How to separate life and work. How to balance being together and staying out of each other’s space. Who gets the TV remote. Who curses and retreats to their bedroom to watch Hulu on their laptop when someone else gets the TV remote.

No one sleeps at the same time. The kids. The cats. My wife. Only Gus and I have successfully kept to our pre-COVID schedules. I go to sleep between 10:30 and midnight, and wake up somewhere around 6 AM to shower for work. Gus sleeps 23 hours a day and wakes up periodically to eat, pee, and go back to sleep. I look at him and see my future.

I think back to my youth when my wife and I met in college and became friends, then started dating. Everything was magical, everything was new. We had endorphins on our side. Then it became a partnership, and then it became work. And don’t get me wrong, we are fortunate; it’s still work, but “work” is the most important part of working.

Having adult children is like God laughing at your expense: All the little things you remember and used to cherish are either gone, or they are still there and – unexplainably – are annoying AF. Did they always put cream cheese on their bagel like that? Who does that? Why bother with the cream cheese at all if you’re not going to shmear it on there?

But then there are the other times. The times someone empties the dishwasher just because. The times someone cooks dinner, or bakes cookies, and it’s awesome. And the times I take the cone off Pants’ head long enough for him to finish cleaning and collapse like a Ziploc bag full of rice pudding in my arms, and gaze at me with exhausted, purely genuine adoration.

And then he starts chewing on his belly while Phyllis pushes a glass off the dining room table and Gus wanders into a random corner, an amnesiac looking for a place to poop. In the living room there’s an argument about whether it’s too late to start a movie when almost everyone will be up until 3 AM anyway. And everyone is simultaneously talking, snacking, Snapchatting, drinking, group texting, opening the window, closing the window, and still somehow managing to be too heavily invested in what’s on TV to agree on anything.

And another day draws to a close.


  1. This post made me laugh so many times! I can relate in so many ways except I don't have or want any cats. I will have to share my nightmare cat story one day... It involves house sitting my mom's boss' house. Needless to say it did not go well.

  2. Thanks for the comic relief from all of this. I look forward to the next addition! BTW, it's me Lori Austin!

  3. Look on the bright side of life! Stay healthy my friends!

  4. I clicked the link thinking meh.. Doubt I'd read it all, but the warning was fair.

    😊 I couldn't stop reading it.
    πŸ˜‚ It was so comical. I enjoyed your post.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Stay blessed. Stay healthy.

  5. This is awesome. I don't have cats but I do think my goldfish are out to drown me. My only reprieve is they count on my to feed them. We shall see, haha. Great post!


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