Sometimes your cat is a huntress


It was a normal day.

Oof – what a way to start a story.  So rife with possibilities.  Anyway –

It really was a normal day.

Becca is off being a time traveler for the next couple weeks with her family five hours ahead in the UK, so it’s just me and Franny here at home.

Nothing too major was happening in the afternoon, so I went into the closet to get some audiobook recording knocked out.  A few times during my half-hour or so in there, I heard Franny meow out in the apartment proper.  I thought nothing of it and kept recording.

Then, I was startled by scratching at the closet door.  Oh no, I thought.  What the heck?  The cat was meowing nonstop and scratching at the door, so she obviously wanted my attention.

I opened the door to see the puss sitting on the floor with pride, a dead mouse in front of her.  Using her paw, she pushed it toward me gently.  Giving another purr, she looked into my eyes and waited for a response.

A few things went through my mind:

1. What the hell.

2. That’s a dead mouse.  Where did that come from?

3. Did she really kill this thing?  I mean, she’s killed flies and roaches before, but this is a MOUSE.

4. Oh my god.  She’s so cute.  She’s presenting it to me.  She wants me to have it.

This final thought taking precedence in my head, I praised her.  I mean, heck, she just killed a pest!  Huzzah, little Amazon!  Huzzah!

Out of meat, and with a cat that hates cat treats, I gave her some catnip to occupy her while I went to get paper towels with which to dispose of the catch.

When I came back from the kitchen, Franny was sauntering toward me with the mouse in her mouth.  It may sound weird, but she was ridiculously cute with the thing hanging from her pard.

Then she started to play with it.  She lay down and began throwing the animal up into the air and batting it with her paws.  I politely asked her to stop (also I made her).  Annoyed, but compliant, she set it down on her scratchpad, then turned away.  I picked up the dead animal and wrapped it in paper.  I disposed of the thing, and that’s when the fun started.

Franny had no idea where it went.

She was bereft, to say the least.  She began to meow and circle the scratchpad.  She pawed at the spot where it once was.  She tried to flip the scratchpad over.  This went on for about ten minutes, so I decided I would help the girl out.  I titled the scratchpad on its side so she could see there was nothing under it.  The mouse was gone.  The search continued.  For another hour, she stalked the living room, looking behind items, looking under furniture, pawing at the scratchpad, and meowing up a storm.

Poor thing.

Eventually she gave up the hunt, and resigned to be ready for the next one.


The moral of the story, however, is that I have the best cat in the world, and she is a mighty huntress, and I feel safer knowing she’s guarding us from ferocious rodents.


Sometimes eleven-year-old straight boys like listening to Doris Day.

The year is 1996.  I am a fifth-grade student at Fountaindale Elementary School.  Fifth grade was the last year before the jump up to middle school, so I was pretty hot shit as one of the senior elite.

I was on the television in every classroom every single morning with the morning announcements.  The Vice-Principal himself drove to my house to pick me up one snowy morning so I could make it on the air in time.  I was a big deal.

So when Mrs. Music Teacher (whose name I have long since forgotten) told the fifth-graders that we would be able to vote on the song we sing at elementary school graduation, I was ecstatic.  I’m Artie Sievers, I said to myself.  I’m le grand fromage.  I’ll pick out something and, of course, everyone will think it’s golden.

I began the search.

My taste in music as an eleven-year-old was not much different that it is today.  That is to say, I was a sixty-year-old man.  My cassette tape collection ranged from Elvis Presley to The Beach Boys to Tchaikovsky to Ray Stevens (yes, the comedian) to some choice musical soundtracks.  One of my most prized possessions, however, was a tape that, if memory serves, was simply titled “Hits of the 50’s.”  An auspicious album, to say the least.  On it were my rock-out jams: El Paso by Marty Robbins, The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton, Mambo Italiano sung by Rosemary Clooney, and other gems.

One piece from that album, though, stuck out as a prime candidate for our fifth-grade graduation song: Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera (Whatever will be, will be).  This, I thought, is a masterpiece of tone.  This is what we want to communicate to the world: we leave elementary school behind to venture into the unknown.  We are scared and unsure, but whatever happens, happens.  We can’t control it, so let us not try.

My eleven-year-old mind exploded with genius.  I was so proud of myself for identifying this.  And – I remember thinking – the parents in the audience will love it!  It’s an old song, and all old people love old songs, right?  Oh, I was going to score some big points with this choice.

We were instructed to cue up our cassette tapes and bring them in to Music Class.  When the big day came, children filed into the room depositing their cassette tapes onto the table by the stereo in the front of the room.  I hadn’t bragged about my choice beforehand to anyone.  I thought I’d let it be a surprise.  I placed my tape with the others and took my seat in the brown vomit-colored risers.

Mrs. Music Teacher (whose only feature I can remember is a mop of purple hair on top of a teardrop face) played each cassette, one by one.  Some were good choices, I recall.  Some were ridiculous, heavy metal anthems that I’m not sure you could even find a choral arrangement for.  And some were flat-out bad.  I remember one kid brought in a recording of an instrumental piece.  All were contemporary music, though.  These children basically just brought in their favorite songs.  Anyway, finally the moment came when Mrs. MT placed my tape in the stereo.  I held my breath, waiting for the inevitable unanimous approval.

As the song started, however, I heard sniggers.  I heard mockery.  I heard all-out guffaws.  I heard “What the heck is this song?!”  I heard “This sounds like something my grandpa listens to!”  I heard “Turn it off!”  I heard “Who brought that in?  Who did it?  Huh?  Come one, who brought it?”

I opened my mouth to identify myself, but instead of doing so, I started laughing as well.  “Yeah, this is horrible,” I said to the kid next to me.  “Did you bring it in?”  The kid shook his head no.

Mrs. MT politely shushed us all and allowed the song to finish.  She betrayed no opinion on the material, but continued on with the next prospective selection.

When it was time to vote, nobody raised their hand for Que Sera Sera, including me.  In fact, a couple of kids still laughed when Mrs. MT held it up.

At the end of class, everyone went up and took back their cassettes.  I left the room without picking mine up.  A few days later I was able to snag it back when nobody was looking.

I don’t have it anymore, but I’d love to find the album again.  Still love those songs.  🙂

PS – The song we sang at our graduation was The Greatest Love of All.  Gag.

Sometimes you write a post about your thinger.

A few posts ago, I recalled a childhood story regarding me, magic, shoplifting, and prison.  You can find it here:

As a response to that story, I found several people in my life bringing up another traumatizing event from my more tender years.  It is a tale of pain, misunderstandings, and body parts (as is any good tale).  And since it is perfectly acceptable to put embarrassing stories about your childhood on the internet, I present it to you now.  Sit back, relax, and journey with me to suburban Maryland, circa 1990.


In my family, we have all boys.  Three boys.  No girls.  My poor mother never got to pass on her womanly wisdom to another of her own kind.  She instead had to learn to live peacefully among this alien race of men, not unlike Leia and her brief stint among the Ewoks.

There were no Barbies in this strange land; there were no dresses and tea parties; there were no Easy-Bake Ovens (well, except for the one time my little brother asked for one for Christmas, but that’s another story).  My mother had to learn the practice of alien customs, the use of alien tools, and – most importantly – the language.  And the word around which our world was built was THINGER.

Now, Artie, what in the world is a thinger, you may very well ask.  Well, reader, please allow me to expound.

Urban Dictionary likens the use of “thinger” to something akin to “whatchamacallit” or “thingamajig.”  It purports that “thinger” can be used to describe that which has no name, or that whose name name cannot be recalled at the moment of description. i.e. – “Hand me that orange linking thinger, Billy Bob,” or “I went to the store and bought one of thos paper towel dispensing thingers.”

This was not necessarily the case with my family, however.  In my family, it was a moniker for that certain special something that all of us boys had but my mother lacked (and I don’t mean moxie, kid).

I should have really queried my parents before I sat down to write this, as I’m not certain as to the date or origin of the word.  I’m not certain who coined the term, and under what pretenses.  Was it used to replace the scientific descriptor?  Was it adopted after I, as the eldest child, discovered my own and created a suitable sobriquet?  Or was it just a vernacular handle that was founded before I even entered as the third wheel into my parents’ relationship?

Whatever the case may be, “thinger” was as much a part of me as, well…


[I would like to take this opportunity here to showcase the pronunciation of the word.  The g is not stressed as in “finger,” but is softened as in “singer.”  It lives quietly in the back of the throat.  (Insert joke about a thinger in the back of the throat here.)]


Now that you’re introduced to my thinger, I shall relate the story:

One day little five-year-old Artie was sitting at the kitchen table.  He had before him a bowl of chicken noodle soup, the steam billowing over the edges.  It was a cold winter’s day, and the soup was perfect to warm little Artie up.  His mother busied herself with something or other by the stove or the kitchen cabinets or something.  She was off to the right, if you’d like to picture it in your mind.

Artie sipped bits of broth from the spoon, slurping with glee.  What a wonderful lunch he was having.  All was right and good in the world. 

Treachery brewed nearby, however.  Something distracted little Artie.  Was it a chunk of chicken that was slightly too warm for his sensitive little tongue?  Was it something heard on the television in the next room?  Or was he just a clumsy little boy, too proud of his own motor skills to really monitor them in the way he should have?

Whatever it was, Artie spilled the soup. 

And oh, a spilled spoonful of soup was never so fraught with (the aforementioned) treachery.  The piping hot liquid spilled directly into the lap of little Artie, creating a sensation between his legs that made him cry out in anguish.  Little Artie let out a yelp of pain, throwing the spoon across the kitchen in agonizing rage.

Mother called from the other side of the room:  “What’s wrong, Artie?  What happened?”

“I burned my thinger!” Artie screamed, his speech garbled in torment.  “I burned my thinger!”

Mother cooed in a sympathetic voice: “I’m sorry about that, hon.  Just put it in your mouth.”

Artie’s breath caught in his throat.  His eyes widened in bewilderment.  He froze, at once confused and horrified at the suggestion by his own materfamilius. 

Poor Mother – she had misheard the boy.  Thinking little Artie had said “finger,” she assumed she had given him a perfectly logical suggestion for what to do until she had completed her own chores and could come over to look at it herself. 

Now she gazed at her son and saw the befuddlement in his eyes.  She saw the wheels in his mind churning, trying to decipher the real meaning behind what she had just said, and trying to decide how to actually make the suggested action happen, if that was in fact the proper procedure for such a set of given circumstances.

Suddenly, it clicked.  She had made a terrible mistake.  “Oh no!” Mother cried.  “No, don’t try to put that in your mouth!” 

The aftermath of the event is lost to the ages, as it has never been included with the story told to me.  (This anecdote has been included in the catalog of Little Artie Stories since I can remember.)  Mayhaps little Artie went to change his pants.  Mayhaps a bag of ice was used to lessen the burning sensation.  Did he finish the bowl of soup?  Did he run screaming from the room?  Alas, we do not know.

I am happy to report, however, that my thinger is fully operational and suffered no residual damage after its harrowing ordeal that fateful day.


Did anyone else have child-speak words for body parts?  Have you ever burned them?  Has your mother ever told you to put them in your mouth?  Please share.