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Now that I’m home from my Middle Eastern travels, it’s back to business as usual: teaching, paying bills, not dusting, and getting back in the groove with my cats. Anyone who has ever taken a long trip and left their pets behind knows that there’s going to be a price to pay when you return. The basic adoration is still there of course—animals never stop loving you—but you don’t get to waltz back in like you were never gone in the first place.
I still haven’t had time to unpack my Arabian sea shells, my silk pashminas, my leftover Saudi Riyals—pretty money with the Sultan on them—all souvenirs. Instead, I’ve been running around with my Woolite pet stain remover trying to clean up hairball slimes and pools of bile. Welcome home, Mom. We missed you. However, we find it very upsetting that you were gone for ten days, so now we have to vaughghghmit everywhere, especially under the beds where it’s hard for you to clean.
I’ve been handing out hairball remedy treats to Sara and Lucy like it’s Halloween, and chasing away bold stray cats who took my absence as an opportunity to colonize my yard. Since my cats live inside, watching the wild cats lounge on our outside walls, sneak through our oleanders and chase our birds was particularly traumatizing. Mom, look, there are gunmen in the yard! If we heave our scummy guts out by the windows, they might retreat.
And then the pest control guy showed up this morning: Edmo. “That’s what the kids call me!” he said as he cheerfully tramped off to the back yard. I wondered what children he was referring to, but after one wildly icky idea popped into my mind, I dismissed the question altogether. When Edmo returned to spray the inside of my house and my cats dashed for cover, he announced that I had a few nefarious situations outside. Nefarious situations. Sounds like Edmo learned a new word.
I had to drag the nefarious situations out of Edmo, who enjoyed discussing the disgusting nature of whatever was wrong in my yard—“Don’t wanna scare ya! Don’t like to upset my customers!”—but not the problems themselves.
“Edmo, what are the situations?” As I listened to one of my cats retching under my bed, Edmo informed me that I have two trees growing dangerously close to the foundation and roof, which work just like bridges that welcome scorpions into my house.
Edmo grinned. “It’s like saying ‘Come on in and bite me!’”
I kind of felt like saying something similar to Edmo.
After he left, I retired to my chambers to see how the princesses were faring under my bed. On my hands and knees I pressed my face to the carpet to meet their fearful eyes. Twin mounds of undigested food sat like camel humps next to them. Mom, we didn’t really need that. We need to wipe our noses on you and coat you with fur. We need you to sit in your chair and eat pudding so we can sit in your lap and clean each other’s ears.
It sounded good to me. Business as usual.