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Friday, February 11, 2005

On The Time I Was Nearly Late To The Radio Show Because I Was Stuck Scraping A Dead Cat Off The Ground In The Middle Of The Worst Part Of Town

It was around 6:30 P.M., and I was jotting down an outline for the radio show that was to start at 8:00. Suddenly, an instant message arrived.

FattyMcCupcake1: hey what are you doin
QCusack: Just preparing for the radio show.
FattyMcCupcake: i really need a ride somewhere. its an emergency.
QCusack: What's going on?
FattyMcCupcake: i need to take my cat to the vet and no one else can take me
QCusack: Where do you live?
FattyMcCupcake: ill call you and give you directions
QCusack: Yes, but the radio show starts in an hour and a half and I need to prepare...
FattyMcCupcake: it wont take that long i promise you wont be late
QCusack: OK, call me.

So she called me and proceeded to explain the situation. You see, she desperately needed to take her cat to the vet, and no one else could help her. Her mom lived in a shack with "the black people" on the east side of I-35, and didn't have a car. No one else could help her, she's had the cat since she was little, she really appreciated me doing this for her, and she swears that she'll pay me for gas if I wanted her to.

I should explain my relationship with this girl. I met her online through a well-known online personals website. I met her once before for "Weird Wednesdays" at the Alamo Drafthouse, and found her to be less atractive than her online pictures made her out to be, annoying, and not very smart2. In conversations subsequent to and during our first meeting, I found that she: (1) Worked at Goodwill; (2)Had no idea who her dad was; (3) Didn't live with her mother, as she was "unable" to provide for her daughter; (4) Had poor music taste; (5)Was argumentative, jumped to conclusions, and was a poor conversationalist.

All these reasons and more led to frequent sighs and the wish that I was less compassionate to her desperate need to pick up her sick cat and bring it to the veterinarian. After our brief telephone conversation, I calculated the time it would take for me to pick up Fatty and do what she needed to do. I figured that if traffic was good to me, I'd still have some time to prepare for the show. My frustration slightly subsided.

When I got to her house3, she was waiting in the driveway for me.

"Where's the cat?" I asked.
"It's with my mom," she answered.
"So we have to drive to the east side of 35 to give pick it up?"
"Yeah, I thought I told you that!"
I gripped the steering wheel. "No. No you didn't."

[Upon arriving on the east side of 35:]

"OK, where do we go from here?"
"I don't know," she replied.
"You don't know where your mom lives?"
"Well, I think I do. Can I use your phone?"

We finallly get there after twenty minutes of driving around with some of the worst verbal instructions I've ever received in the absolute worst part of Austin. And her mom actually does live in a shack in the back yard of a black family. The shack looked like it was built by Corky from the hit sitcom Life Goes On: It was built from scrapwood and metal; there were large holes on all sides of it; inside, there was an old army surplus cot, and not much else. Her mom emerged from the shack. She was wearing what looked black dancer's tights, but they were faded to grey and had holes scattered in all places4. She accompanied her pantswear with an oversized Van Halen t-shirt, and no shoes or socks.

"Hi Chris (I had spoken to her on the phone a moment before), I'm AJ's mom," she said.
"Nice to meet you. Where's the cat?"
A pained expression crossed her face. "Oh, you might have seen it on the way in. It's out there in the intersection."
"Oh, mom! How long has he been out there?"
"Probably about five days."
I had to interject. "Wait. So the cat is dead?"
"He got hit by a car last week."
"Why do you need to take him to the vet?"
"So he can be cremated."
"This is beginning to sound like this isn't an actual emergency."

After some fumbling about for something to put the animal into, the girls eventually found a garbage bag. I smelled her pet before I actually saw it, and it smelled awful. It had been run over dozens of times, and had been reduced to a form that was only vaguely recognizable as a cat.

The following phrases could be heard over the next twenty minutes:

"Chris, how are we going to get this into the bag?"
"I don't know, but if you do get it into that bag, there's no way that bag into my car."

"This is not right. I can't do this."
"It's your cat! I'm not doing it!"

"Just scrape it up with the aluminum. I'll hold the bag."

"You're going to need to find a box or something. Because seriously, that bag is not going into my car."
"I think I'm going to throw up."

So they put the cat into the bag, the bag went into a large tupperware box, and the box went into my trunk. It could still be smelled from the front seat. As I drove hurriedly to the vet, they speculated on how they were going to pay for the cremation.

"AJ, how are we going to pay for this? I don't have the money to pay for it."
"I don't know mom, maybe the black people could lend you some money."
"Don't call them that."
"Why? They are black."
"But you still shouldn't talk about them that way."

This was particularly strange to me because neither one of them had enough money for a place to live, let alone a luxury like having your cat professionally burned to ashes.

Finally, we arrived at the vet. I actually was low on gas, but rejected the twenty dollars Fatty tried to give me. After she tried again, I took five from her and sped off.

I got the the radio station five minutes before the show started, and frantically started the show in an unorganized manner.

1This is actually her real AIM name, but she no longer uses it, so I feel like it's OK to publish it. However, I don't really care if she did still use it, for reasons that you're about to read.

2Regardless of whether or not she was "just nervous" or something, it was easy to see that I didn't want to have anything to do with her again, and had been trying to avoid her ever since our initial meeting.

3Well, it wasn't actually her house, it was the house of some old family friend, who, she reported, kept trying to sleep with her.

4Including the butt.

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