People think I'm an empty nester, but that's not entirely true. At 62, I have a male living with me...My Body Guard, Ike. In a previous life I'm pretty sure he was a guy from Miami, in his 60's like me, maybe 5'8", stocky, hirsute; the type of guy who wears either an open collared shirt or a guayabera, with the ubiquitous, slightly-damp-from-perspiration, wife-beater beneath, topping off a pair of white, polyester, sansabelt pants, with cheap but very large white shoes on his feet. To complete this picture of sartorial splendor, imagine a thick, heavy, gold chain (or two) at his neck; a golden pelt spilling out of the top of his shirt, sherry colored eyes, a pinky ring on his finger, and, hanging from the corner of his bee-stung lips, a serious, well-chewed, Cuban cigar.
That was Ike in a previous life; I'm sure of it. But in his current incarnation, he came to me as a short, musclebound, street-wise (and street-fighting) orange tabby. Here's a pic I snapped of him at the time, when he was...ahem, how shall I put this? Suffice it to say this picture is censored because when he came to me after several years surviving on the streets, Ike was better equipped than the Dos Equis Man.
Whom I've dated.
But I digress...
When he first came to live with me, I told him he couldn't stay. And the night I discovered he'd been using the giant, antique crock in the living room that housed a 9' foot ficus tree as his own private litter box, requiring me to spend the better part of a weekend repotting that tree, we had another, more serious talk. Which he must have taken to heart, because to his credit, that has never happened again.
From the start, he was protective of me. When a gentleman comes to call, Ike jumps onto (depending on the height of the guy), the kitchen table, kitchen counter top, or stair landing, at which point he makes eye contact: a stony-eyed glare that says "Have Judi back here at midnight, ALONE!" I know that sounds crazy, but several guys have commented on it, including a guy Kath brought to my Christmas party, a friend of hers who got the same treatment regarding Kath.
But this fall, the first cool night, when I decided to sleep upstairs so I could sleep with open windows only to discover a roach the size of a not-so-small mouse skittering across the floor, where was that protectiveness then? I screamed and looked at Ike. "Do something!" I implored. He sighed, looked bored, and just before he burrowed deeper into the duvet, gave me a look over his shoulder that clearly said, "Puh-leez! That's a ROACH and I don't do roaches."
He doesn't do roaches, but he does...ultrasonic humidifiers. Let me explain. Last Monday, a little over a week after getting my flu shot, I got very very sick at work. At the clinic, I was told that I had an ILI - an influenza-like-illness, which as near as I can tell, is just a fancy way that doctors are telling people they came down with the flu even though they had a flu shot. I had chills, a fever, a splitting headache, sinus congestion, and a cough. You know when a little child is upset and you ask them what hurts and they say everything? And you ask, does your elbow hurt? and the child says yes, and you ask, what about your eyelashes, do they hurt? and the child says yes...that's how I felt. My fingernails hurt. The doc sent me home with a script for a Z-pak, not to be filled for 4 or 5 days, and suggested I chug DayQuil, NyQuil and Tylenol, PRN. All of which I did. Yesterday, Friday, when I wasn't feeling any better and the congestion had spread to my chest, I went to Target to get the script filled for the Z-Pak and while there, I picked up an ultrasonic humidifier. And last night, before going to sleep, I set it up and turned it on, right next to the bed.
Ike was horrified. Every night when we go to bed, it's the same thing: he races me up the stairs (and wins) so that by the time I enter the room, he's sitting in the middle of the bed, with a look of great satisfaction on his face. He also has a look of anticipation, because I usually get out the laser mouse and run him around the upstairs a bit before he goes to sleep. My first clue that he was less than enthusiastic about the ultrasonic humidifier was that he took one look at the machine, which was spewing a fine, cool, vapor mist into the air, and bolted from the room. He galloped down the stairs, and once on the first floor, he yowled copiously (and loudly) for a good 15 minutes. When that had no effect, he came back upstairs, cautiously, and padded softly into the bedroom. Pacing around the bed, he resumed his loud, copious yowling. I ignored him, although I did tell him the machine was making it easier for me to breathe. He continued pacing for some time. Finally, he jumped lightly onto the bed, and cautiously approached the machine. Clearly, he thought that going to sleep while something was spewing mist into your face was insane. Usually he likes to spoon up to me, pressing the top of his big old cat head tight against my chin as we both doze off. Last night, though, he slept at the foot of the bed, and like the nurses do in hospitals, he woke me every hour to make sure I was alive, gently tapping my face with a paw until I moved, when he'd move back to the foot of the bed, touching my feet but as far from the dreaded machine as possible.
He must not have gotten much sleep himself, because today he's wiped:
He is one devoted body guard.