Letting our hair down
Toward the end of last year, I noticed a small bald spot roughly the diameter of a quarter on Teva’s rear left leg. As time went on, it continued to grow, to the point that it stretched from her knee to her thigh. If I had to put a price on its final size, I’d say $3 in assorted coins. Not the Sacagawea kind. No one likes those.
The swath snaked up her leg in the shape of a tongue, and it became apparent that she was licking away the hair from her haunches. One thing’s for certain: I’m confident Teva didn’t learn this behavior from me. I haven’t shaved my legs since going in for an annual pap smear two months ago.
While I was struggling to come to terms with living with a cat who is bald by choice, the vet seemed confounded, but not concerned. His advice ranged from doing nothing — the ol’ don’t-pull-your-hair-out-over-your-cat-pulling-her-hair-out approach — to an Elizabethan collar to Prozac. I always just sort of assumed that among my cats and me, the one most likely to need anti-depressants was … not my cats.
I pondered what depression- or anxiety-inducing problems Teva, the happiest creature I’ve ever encountered, might have that would drive her to self-inflicted baldness: being loved too much, having too many toys to choose from, being raised by a single parent. Or maybe she was just picking up on and acting out my own malaise. I wish I could claim my lack of blogging of late was a silent protest of anti-piracy legislation, but only recently did I learn that PIPA isn’t Kate Middleton‘s sister. The real reason is because sometimes life blows. Weathering a perfect storm of first-world white girl problems, I’ve spent the past few months hibernating and hating people. Admittedly, it’s hard to discern my funks from my happy times.
Friday is sometimes my only night off work, and I’ve settled in to an comfortable but probably unhealthy routine. Because I’ve been rather unpleasant to be around, I sequester myself and dedicate the evening to grocery shopping instead of socializing. There’s an unspoken understanding among shoppers. We can’t judge each other for grocery shopping on date night because we’re all grocery shopping on date night. I’m not sure whether people still call it “date night.” Maybe this is why I never have dates.
There’s a cute cashier who closes on the weekends, and I always seek out her line. She’s 40-ish, glasses, shoulder-length salt-and-pepper hair. Probably too old for me. Definitely too chipper and well-adjusted to be gay. Bubbly yet soft-spoken and seemingly concerned only with whether I found everything I was shopping for, she makes sure to ask whether I want my soap wrapped separately (no), milk in a bag (no) or rubber bands on the blackberries (no — Teva eats them. The rubber bands, not the blackberries. That would make sense.). It’s as if she were Teva, because I seem to only ever tell her “no.” I don’t know what her name is, but she looks like a Becky. Not a Rebecca or a Becca or, god forbid, Becki. Becky. Last Friday at the intersection of the chocolate nook and olive bar, Becky and I did a No-You-Go Dance — the sort where both people move to the right, then left, then right again all the while saying, “No, you go.” She was off the clock early. I wondered why. In her absence, another cashier rang up my purchase. He put rubber bands on my berries. Asshole.
My television — my trusty Friday night companion — broke at the height of Teva’s alopecia and my melancholy, making matters bleaker for at least one of us. I pulled forward a bookshelf to check the plugs, and the cats went berserk upon being reunited with all their lost toys and pilfered tampons. Teva led the charge, liberating the applicators and multicolor mice. For days while their treasures were no longer hidden, I’d wake to find a mouse dropped on top of me and come home to discover little tokens of their affection on my pillows. My misfortune had become their bliss.
*This* is why I have cats. They offer a direly needed everyday dose of levity. Also, they are the only beings that don’t love me and then leave me. Because they’re trapped in my house. And they’re the only ones who let me hold them on a regular basis. Although a few days ago Isabel pulled a muscle in her chest, and now she whimpers every time I lift her. It’s been especially hard on her. And by her I mean “my self-esteem.” And Teva and Isabel sit on me and purr a lot when I’m sad. I recently read that cats purr at a frequency known to foster healing. Cats make you feel better. Fact. Although it’s possible their purrs might only promote self-healing, in which case, our pain just makes them stronger. Still cool.
After witnessing Teva’s elation over my busted TV, I decided pills weren’t the right tack to take with her. Instead, I turned a blind eye to her hairless limb and let her overzealous grooming run its course. Like her mom, she eventually lost interest in epilation, and now there’s fuzz where there once was none.
Doing nothing can be the best medicine. At least that’s what I tell myself on date night.
P.S. To resolve the immaculate-conception cliffhanger from my last post, I’m not carrying the Second Coming of Christ after all. It’s just as I thought — only women can come twice.