Anyone who owns a cat already knows that difficult challenges are daily hurdles that one must somehow get over.   Living with a cat like Annie, hurdle days are good days because they are few and far between, normally it’s hills, mountains, and volcanos to get over every day.   Cats like Annie don’t do just typical cat annoyances like knocking stuff off the counter or playing tag at 3 am or leaving dead animals at the side of your bed so you step on it.  She does all of that but takes it a hundred steps further.

It all began with Annie breaking another microwave.   Over the years she has put quite a few of them out of commission.    Like the time she put her blow dryer into it to warm the handle, or the time she was trying to invent some super strong glue made out of maple syrup and gasoline (she is still working on that one and says she is close to a break through). The time she was trying to use it as an incubator for a dozen eggs she had picked up at the local market and most recently trying to melt silverware figuring if the words stainless steal were melted away she could sell it for actual silver.

I gave up and vowed not to get another one.   We only used it for popcorn anyway and there are other ways to make popcorn.    When the pop corn cravings set in, I grabbed a package of popcorn the kind you can make on the stove.    Annie Jr. begged for the Jiffy Pop kind.   Annie told him that it was THE coolest way to make pop corn and he just had to have it.  I agreed but with the condition that neither of them use the stove to pop it without my supervision; they agreed and I bought it.

Annie Jr. had promised Annie the pop corn would be an event they would share.   Annie Jr. was quite anxious to see how it worked but Annie was having her girls night out with Duh-Wayne, Kiko, Maddie, Allie, Chad, Aunt Paulie and a few other friends.   I was left with an inconsolable Annie Jr. who sobbed and sobbed over the popcorn and kept watching out the window for his beloved Mom-mom to return.

Even with the constant sobbing going on, and repeated phone calls to Annie’s voice mail with Annie Jr. screaming, “Mom-mom get home it’s an emergency!”; I kept drifting off to sleep.    I had to work the next morning.   Finally around mid-night, after calling Annie’s phone myself a few times, and Duh-Wayne’s, and Kiko’s, and Maddie’s and Allie’s and Chad’s and Aunt Paulie’s and several others, I told Annie Jr. he would have to wait until the next day because I was going to sleep.

Now what happened after I went to sleep, is what caused all the problems.    Annie returned shortly after I fell asleep.   She claimed she tried to wake me up, but I wonder how true her story was, it seems I would have awoken at some point.   Annie had ways of disrupting my sleep patterns making me have crazy dreams or putting me so deeply asleep that a train driving over my body would not even cause me to sigh in my sleep.   I suspect the latter is what happened.

Since Annie was unable to wake me and since Annie Jr. was so impatient; Annie decided to disobey me and make the popcorn without me.   She claimed later that they had merely agreed not to make it on the stove top and since I said absolutely nothing about making it in the oven she figured she was not doing anything wrong other than pleasing her son and if I had woken up none of it would have happened.   It was further all my fault because I was too cheap to buy an oven with a light bulb inside, for it if had a light bulb none of it would have happened.   Not only was Annie Jr., unable to see the jiffy pop pop in the dark oven, Annie successfully burned the only package of jiffy pop to a crisp.

Annie Jr. went off into one of his terrible one’s tantrums, throwing himself on the floor, kicking and screaming.   Waking everyone in the neighborhood up, except for me.    Then it happened, Annie got an idea, an awful idea, but one she hoped would soothe her crying child.

What was jiffy pop, she thought, other than popcorn kernels packed  in something that would expand.  She grabbed the package of popcorn and looked around for something that would expand; stomachs expand she guessed correctly.    With that knowledge she inserted a gastro tube she had collected on one of Duh-Wayne’s medical visits, and ran it from my mouth to my stomach and blew each and every piece of popcorn into my stomach, then using a blow dryer set to extra hot she popped it right inside of me making me look like a huge lumpy piece of popcorn.

That wasn’t even the worst part.  I mean I could totally deal with looking like a huge lumpy piece of popcorn but there was so much of it, and it was packed in so tight only surgery could fix it.   Annie claimed I should have been grateful because I got a free day off from work, actually quite a few days, but it didn’t make me feel any better.

Even worse, was having Annie,  Annie Jr. and Duh-Wayne hanging out all day with me at the hospital from 9am to 9 pm.  Since Duh-Wayne became Annie’s personal driver because Annie accidently flushed her glasses down the toilet and couldn’t see, I had to get used to him visiting as well.

Every day was the same thing and each day ran into the next.  There was nothing to look forward to, the nurses came at the same time, the same shows were on at the same time, the food came at the same time and the menu never varied.

Typical of any gastro surgery, you have a diet that starts with zero on the menu and gradually food is added, like water, broth and jello.   Even though you are starving to death it all looks, smells and tastes gross and then when you can get something good like chocolate ice cream, you eat one bite and feel as if you had a 10 course meal with a double dessert.

Even though Duh-Wayne and the Annie’s came daily often bringing a special guest star(s) as a surprise visitor(s), like the homeless duck in our neighborhood, the dog I saw from a car window while on vacation in another state with my family in the early 80’s, the great great great great great grandson of a hamster I once owned from the 70’s, three girls who knew a guy who knew a guy who was related to another guy that who had a cousin who saw Captain Kangaroo live in concert, there still wasn’t much to look forward to.    Duh-Wayne chain smoked next to a bunch of oxygen tanks, Annie Jr. jumped around the room with his pogo stick making sure every other jump was on my bed, until I forbid him to use it and then he tied springs to his feet continuing to jump and sing ‘the wonderful thing about Annie”.   Annie dressed in a white lab coat ran around the hospital, picking up useful information about other patients, staff and visitors and would come back at the end of the evening with large pizza’s or hamburgers or something equally delicious smelling and share it with Duh-Wayne, Annie Jr. and the woman in the bed next to me (not me though because I was not allowed to have it) and regale them with tales about others.

She also got in the habit of bringing back large ice cream sundae’s heavily laden with multiple kinds of syrup, sprinkles, nuts, candy and whipped cream and sharing with that with the woman in the next bed as well.   No one could figure out why her sugar registered so high, it was almost as high as Duh-Wayne’s.    But as Annie always said about her own die-a-beat-us…”I can have a little bit of sugar,” when someone called her out as she reached for a chocolate bar then took and ate nine of them.

When I was finally able to eat, even though the food tasted good, I was only able to consume a little at a time.   Then Annie mixed up her chocolate and her ex-lax.   Not only both Annie’s and Duh-Wayne got diarrhea, but the lady in the next bed did as well.   Since she was unable to get out of bed, she had to use a bed pan and always had to go right during meal times.    I could actually see the smell come over and envelope my food.

Annie took full credit for the few pounds I lost.    Claiming the whole jiffy pop experiment was planned for this reason and this reason only thus relieving herself of any guilt she may have had, but didn’t over the fact I was in pain, my intestines would never be the same, I’d need another job to pay for the medical bills not to mention, I would be incapacitated for awhile.   Annie also took glorified credit to the fact that I now had a nice long summer vacation.

I was finally allowed to leave the hospital and begin that vacation.  Thus ending the saga of the Jiffy Pop experiment but the beginning of Annie Nightingale.



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