I spent the weekend in something of a knitting frenzy, so you’ll have to forgive me for typos. My fingers may be permanently clawed. The early onset of arthritis is worth the outcome…I have knit a sweater. For some knitters, this is a mundane and un-noteworthy accomplishment, I’m sure, but as I have never accomplished the task before and as the sweater seems like it will fit John, I’m quite pleased. The sweater, however, is not the point of this story. The point of this story is this: I set my cat on fire this weekend.
No, no. That wasn’t a complete non sequitur. I was sitting on the couch knitting, watching as John took his turn at being the limber and shirtless Prince of Persia, when I started to smell something a bit off. It smelled almost like something burning but I couldn’t think for the life of me what it was. I glanced over at the candle I was burning to mask the other scents of an apartment belonging to two rather slovenly people, but I didn’t see any smolder or flames aside from those on the wick. I shrugged and returned to working my woolen stockinette stitch and wincing whenever a sand zombie got in a good hit.
Twenty minutes or so went by like this and I kept smelling the same, awful burnt-hair smell. I’m prone to headaches and/or faint nausea in bad lighting while playing (or watching) video games for prolonged periods of time, and the terrible smell was speeding up my need to walk away and do something else. Unable to stand it, I put down my knitting and determined myself to find the offensive source of the odor.
I didn’t even have to leave my seat. I turned around to rub Kali’s head before I stood up and realized with horror that her tail was smoking. Worse, the tip was flaming and covered in melted wax. I yelped and blew out her tail and the candle she had twitched it through in one terrified breath. As I examined her more closely, I noticed little patches of soot sprinkled across her back. As I can’t imagine that her tail had been burning continuously for twenty minutes without coming to her attention, I can only conclude that she was catching it on fire and blowing it out as she whipped it back and forth contentedly on her favorite perch, depositing soot with each brush of her back.
Kali didn’t even flinch as I flipped out, frantically trying to make sure no sparks had flown anywhere else. All I could envision was a more domestic version of the story about the cops and the squirrel on This American Life (Part 2 here). As hard as I laughed listening to that story, I really didn’t want to get kicked out of our comfy apartment for letting a flaming cat loose on the place.
Fortunately, Kali stayed put until I made the ill-guided attempt to brush the soot out of her hair. It’s taken me three attempts and a pair of scissors to get the soot and wax out of her fur, but she’s more or less as good as new. She wasn’t hurt, so as long as no tomcats come prowling around and laugh as the terrible haircut on her tail, she’ll be just fine.
Hopefully I will be able to damn John’s sweater with less faint praise once I get the zipper in.