Grandma’s Toes, Max the Cat, and Words that Don’t Get Along

22 May

by Roger White

We’re pretty sure my paternal grandmother had six toes on her right foot, just so you’ll know. I never saw my grandmother’s feet; in fact, she died before I was born, but I heard the stories. She could swim like crazy. Six-toed grandma, we called her.

It was good to get that out of the way. I feel better, don’t you? Ya know, I don’t understand why anyone wants to poke, or be poked by, another person on this Facenook network. There should be other buttons, like thump, prod, sniff, eviscerate, wedgie, scoot, bump, smack, query, shine, tease, smear, annihilate, fondle, inebriate, push, fluff, excoriate, grope, lick, claw, hack, weatherproof, annoy, rub, polish, whittle, and, of course, probe. And perhaps shower. I have written the Faceplant people, but there has been no reply so far.

So while we wait, I thought I might entertain you with some words that probably haven’t been this close together before:

• Annuitized shoehorn

• Marsupial term life plan

• Heartwarming guillotine

• Variable rate crayon

• Chocolate-covered plutonium

• Endoscopic clambake

• Semi-automatic pudding

While we’re on the subject, I was on the back porch with my cat, Max, the other day, and I noticed this bizarre tic he has. Max is a gorgeous tortoise-shell tabby, gray and black swirled with a burl undertone. He looks like a raccoon without the bandit eyes, and he pets like a chinchilla. He’s very luxurious, and he knows it. He preens a lot. He’s overweight but quite athletic, as all cats are. Whenever Max spies potential prey, be it a swooping silver hawk, a chittering squirrel, or a wind-blown piece of yard lint, he starts issuing these short, choppy meow bits, bouncing his jaw up and down like he’s having a conniption fit. (Please note that some dictionaries make a clear distinction between a conniption fit and a hissy fit. A conniption fit involves many more overt physical movements and gyrations. Apparently, a hissy fit entails merely verbal gymnastics. My sisters, then, were hissy fit queens.)

Max maintains this behavior until he either starts wiggling his butt to go into attack mode or gets bored and falls asleep. Usually, he chooses sleep. Sometimes he attacks. Other times, he falls asleep in the midst of an attack. It’s all rather embarrassing, but he’s our cat, and we love him. I mention Max because it is he who basically runs the household. Max determines whether Ralph, our long-haired dachshund, may pass him in the hallway without assault. It is Max who wakes my wife and me up in the morning by kneading our respective chests until we either throw him to the wall or get up and greet the day, and it’s almost always the latter. It is Max who informs each family member when it is mealtime, and it is Max who keeps the family on our collective toes by zipping at light speed out any door opened at any place in the house at any time. How he does this I do not know. I think Max has a GPS map of our house and all its access points linked to his kitty box or something. I have heard electronic beeps and boops coming from that box when I know Max isn’t in there. Get this, Max can be at the far end of the house, snoozing away with his back feet in the air, but as soon as I crack the garage door just the tiniest bit—PHOOOM!! He’s gone.

The good thing about Max is that he doesn’t roam. When he makes his escape, he just stands there in the yard, eating grass blades and taking the occasional dirt bath. I think he’s just proving a point. “Yep, I can blow this popsicle stand any ol’ time I want. Mm hm.”

For some reason, Max stalks our youngest daughter, Jamie, like she’s wild jungle prey. With the rest of us, he meows and purrs and exhibits the standard cat protocol, but every time he spies our young one he flashes to Arnold Schwarzenegger in that movie with the invisible alien hunter dude. “Get the choppah. RRROOWWRRR.” He gets all puffed and muscly and meows with an Austrian accent. Max and Jamie fight like, well, like cats. I think Max is under the impression that Jamie is another cat. I guess I can see that. I do keep trying to tell Max that Jamie is a human being, but he always looks at me like I’m a used car salesman.

So, OK, why don’t we end this episode with more words that have never shared a sleeping bag:

• Terrycloth opinion

• Inspirational vivisection

• Polyunsaturated mortgage

• Lavender crankshaft

• Lightly salted evolution.

Mmm, yeah.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Oak Hill with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit


One Response to “Grandma’s Toes, Max the Cat, and Words that Don’t Get Along”

  1. Debbie Frost Daniel May 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    Awesome story. i love to hear of the animal stories as well. Great article Rog..

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