This is an actual chapter from my manuscript: Cat Pee Diaries & The Stench of Failure
I wanted to put this out in the world because it makes me laugh really hard. Some things are so damn funny, I don’t want to wait for a publisher to bring it to you, so here she is.
Cat Pee Diaries & The Stench of Failure
There are few things that symbolize my lifetime in one single concept and can sum up the true dysfunction and uncouth Petri dish I grew up in. But one of those few things would be cat piss. It will follow me down all paths and crevices of my life, like a hungry ghost with a black light. It’s like a pungent guardian angel, making sure I know of its existence and how I’ll never be emancipated from its smelly grasp.
My epic battle with cat pee began from my birth. At one point, we had around one hundred cats, which were of course all non-spayed or neutered. We didn’t own a litter pan, and they could go defecate or piss anywhere that they liked. About once a month, we’d clean out from behind our couch, and scoop the poops into a few dustpans. I was assisting my brother in the usual feces removal one day, when he burst into the jingle for the Skittles commercial:
“Stoolies! Stoolies! Bite-Sized Candies! Taste the rainbow of fruit flavor!”
I was often the biggest victim of the cat pee Olympics that took place around our two-trailers-attached-to-look-like-a-house. My belongings apparently made the best target from the heavy bladders of our pets, and were constantly saturated by their tender liquids. It was as if they knew what was mine, and made sure they nailed it every time they could. I became very accustomed to the stench, and tried my best to cover it up when exiting the house. I had a Debbie Gibson perfume called “electric youth” that was from an outlet store I would spray on my book bag. It was no match for “electric urine” which was free and in copious amounts from cats’ asses.
I believe I came up with a theory as to why this was so. You see, I was always destined to escape being white trash with the use of my intellect and rarely found initiative in our household. Those cats knew, and they knew they didn’t have much time, so they’d better offload all the piss they could. I’m sure in their decision making process, they meowed “well the guy in the Kiss shirt…he’ll be around a while, so let’s get the nerdy fat girl first.”
Every six months or so when I was growing up, my father would get really angry with all of us, and load a crate of cats up into his truck. He would then dump all of them out deep into the country, as a way to teach us a lesson. We had one cat named Grace who came back 3 times. And I’m certain it was because she missed pissing on my belongings.
The real psychological damage didn’t start until I entered 7th grade. You know that kid that you sat diagonal from, and she smelled like body odor or a cat’s litter pan? Or she had head lice and her shirt tag sticking out? You just wanted to kick her in the face for being disgusting and pathetic, but you never did, cause she was delicate and you “weren’t” that kind of person.” That girl was I. In 1992, when other girls wore shirts with cats on them, I was the real trendsetter wearing shirts with actual cat piss on them.
I had an English teacher who pulled me into the hallway one morning. I’ll never forget the look on her face as she scowled to find the right words firing through her mind. She then asked me, very directly: “Do you own a cat?” Peering over her bifocals down at me, I felt like a convict in court.
Should I tell her I own like fifty of them? How many did we own? We hadn’t taken an inventory in a long time, so if she had wanted an approximate number, she was climbing up the wrong cat tree. I reluctantly answered with a weak “Yes” and she started lambasting me for the odor of my book bag.
“Well, I can tell you own cats. Your book bag smells VERY DIRTY!” she huffed. I was so humiliated, I would have crawled into an actual litter pan just to abscond myself from the situation. “You need to wash your book bag or get a new one, it smells terrible.” Get a new one? She must have mistaken me for having parents who gave actual thought about my upbringing. She was having this conversation with a ME…a student who had to staple blank papers together to “make” my own yearbook just so I could have my total of two friends autograph it every year because no one bought me one.
I looked at her and agreed to her suggestions with a quick glance of eye contact, and I did a b-line for my desk. Later that day, I told my sister who picked me up from school about the conversation, and I watched as she stomped off in total rage to find her phone. She called up the teacher who was still at school, and gave the most fantastic bitch out I had witnessed since her Ford Festiva was mistakenly repossessed. The next day, my teacher apologized to me for her remarks.
It became mandatory to do what I termed “odor checks” before I went into public. Sniffing around like a drug dog on the creases of my clothes prevented many traumatizing experiences. But these cats were like ninjas to my things, sneaking in with leaky bladders and avenging my decision to read books and leave the trailer someday. I washed my things in an often-obsessive manner since it didn’t improve my chances of making an actual boyfriend in middle school. What also didn’t help my statistics were my massive pink glasses, spiral perms, and shirts with puffy paint and glued on mirrors, but for some reason I felt optimistic sans cat urine.
With my unstable adolescence, I ended up bouncing from location to location and didn’t spend so much time doing odor checks. I was sleeping on friends’ floors or living with my brother and his then-girlfriend, and oddly enough I let my guard down and became accustomed to how normal people functioned. It was refreshing, especially on my nose.
For about five years, I avoided living at Mom’s house and got used to how the normal world was outside of my upbringing. However, times went sour on me after numerous horrifying living situations at the age of twenty, and I crawled back to my mother’s house with horrible shame. The cat statistics had shrunken down to three cats, so I was certain the cat pee wars would draw a truce in honor of my one good pair of jeans. After the shit I had been through, I was exhausted with everyone’s piss raining on my parade, not just the cats.
Not so. It was even worse than ever. I slept on a couch that was catty cornered against my mom’s bar, and by catty corner, I also meant apparently where catties cornered to piss. And that’s ironically where I had to store my clothes. I did okay for a few months before they really started pouring down the incessant bladder beatings on my garments. It finally came to a point where my friends chipped in and bought actual plastic tote bins so that my clothes would be protected from the piss wars. Through human intelligence, we would beat them at their own game! Or so I thought.
It was a balmy summer afternoon when some friends and I decided to run and get a cheap dinner somewhere. We were sitting around mom’s living room (IE my bedroom) and I had done my normal odor checks when I smelled a foul stench on my shirt. I checked the next shirt, and the next shirt. Bastards! A beast has managed to saturate my clothes somehow by removing the lid to my containers! I went through the entire pile of clothes and I had nothing clean I could wear to find food. My friends thought this entire ordeal was absolutely hysterical (and it was) while I screamed about my clothing situation and slung clothes everywhere. I was truly angry and my friends although concerned, were also deeply amused with the epic white trash scale of this event.
In a maniacal huff, as if I’d snapped, I took every item of clothing I owned to the washing machine and dumped in for a nice hot wash. I slammed the lid down and gathered myself. Deep breaths, in and out…it was just piss and I was bigger than body fluids from a cat’s ass. I didn’t need to give myself a coronary over this ridiculous situation. I found a shirt in my mom’s room, and we finally hit the road to get our dinner. Things would be okay I told myself.
A few hours later when we had all returned, my brother was kind enough to move my freshly washed clothes over to the dryer so he could wash all twenty five of his black KISS shirts. I had heard the buzzer go off while we were playing video games, but I paid no mind. Life was good, no need to interrupt it for my laundry.
Finally at a stopping point, I go to retrieve my clothes from the dryer. When I came around the corner, one of the cats jumped out of the dryer and the door was wide open. How would the dryer door even be open? Do these cats have telekinesis? Is this the twilight zone? Sure enough, I peeked my head down into the dryer and it was there in my clothes…a big gross puddle of fresh piss.
I fucking lost it. I lost it to a point that it was the most hilarious thing for anyone to observe in his or her lifetime. I screamed and I yelled, and it was that day I went face down on my mom’s floor in the middle of her living room and cried my eyes out. I cried so hard, I was exhausted. I cried in fetal position, I slammed my fist down onto the quasi-crusty carpets, and I let it all out. Twenty years of cat pee Post Traumatic Stress Disorder came hurling out of my soul for all to behold. My friends were concerned and they of course comforted me, but they ended up laughing the second my back was turned. How could they not? This was surely hilarious if you were not the fat girl with cat pee clothes. I can get behind that and I share the humor, trust me.
I ended up moving out of mom’s house shortly after that episode and bouncing around some more in the usual unsteady fashion. Even then, my roommate when I moved away had a cat peeing on my things constantly. It seemed like I’d never be emancipated from the urine chains that bounded my soul. I moved some more places and then I settled down with a long-term relationship boyfriend, and the days of being pissed upon were very much behind me. I didn’t do odor checks, and I felt confident in not having my clothes in an underground bunker. We did adopt a scraggly cat and she didn’t feel the need to use my stuff for target practice, so all was well.
One night, some friends were over and I told them about some of my items in my trunk o’ memories in the basement. We’d had a few alcoholic beverages when I insisted on bringing up the trunk for a walk down memory lane. I got the trunk and brought it back upstairs; and I was all excited to show them stuff they’d remember hearing about. As I opened the box, it was immediately apparent the adopted cat had decided to piss on everything in the entire box somehow. It was so disgusting I was taken aback.
I picked up my ghetto yearbooks that I had stapled together and stared at the yellow stains. “Sheena’s Ghetto Yearbook” was blurry in marker from being peed on but still visible. I picked up my generic Barbie someone gave me from Wal-Mart. Her name was “Pretty Sheena” in huge letters across the top, and she was a gift for purely for comical purposes. I inspected the box and much like me, Pretty Sheena had been pissed on yet again. At this point, these friends knew all about the cat pee that so plagued my life, and were in hysterics in the floor laughing at the sheer symbolism of a cat pissing on my life’s mementos. It only made sense if you truly think about it.
This has been the tale of the cat pee diaries and the stench of failure. The full circle of my cat piss in my life and the gentle raining of cat urine on my dreams and desires have been quite an experience that isn’t really worth a whole chapter. But the point is, always fight back! If the man pushes you down, push back. If the cat pees on your clothes, get in fetal position angry and slam your fists down. Don’t let the cat keep you down!