Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Housesitter Ian Deserves a Medal

When I go away for more than a couple of days, I like to find a housesitter. While Freya would be okay with someone dropping by once or twice a day for some food and a couple of pets, she wouldn't be happy. She likes to be around people. She likes for people to make laps so she can sit in them. She likes for people to lie down so she can purr a bit and then flop down on them, and then spoon with them after she slides down their side. That's the kind of cat she is.

I like to find a housesitter who would appreciate a week or so on their own - someone who lives out in the burbs, or who has roomies, or misses cats, or something. They're doing me a huge favour by staying Chez Butch, so I like to feel like I'm doing them a bit of a favour back.

Ian was a perfect candidate: roommated and cat-misser. But I think he got a little more than he bargained for.

The Wednesday before I left, he came over and I gave him a tour and we went over the notes I'd made for him. The entire page of notes I'd made for him. Apartment quirks, what to do in case Freya got sick, contact numbers for friends. I called the vet and gave them his name, I emailed Grace to see if she'd be available to drive Ian and Freya to the vet's in case of an emergency, I called my landlord to tell him that if there were a problem, Ian would call. I left my upstairs neighbours a note. I left Ian detailed notes about all the people who knew.

In short, I went kind of bonkers. I'm still not quite sure what tick had gotten under my skin, because jesus, I even emailed Ian from Halifax to give him yet one more ridiculous "just in case" instruction. He must have thought the place and my pet, not to mention my brain, were made of glass.

Point 5 under "apartment quirks" (right under "turn shower taps 5 times for water") was "ants, mice, bats." Listed from least to most scary. Ian was holding the paper as we went over it. His eyebrows shot up. "Bats? For real?"

"Yeah, sadly. It's high season too." I paused, feeling guilty. "I probably should have mentioned the bats beforehand. But you probably won't get one." He couldn't tell, but I was crossing all my fingers and and all my toes.

When I got home from the 'fax, there was a note on the table. "And check the phone message from Mark," it said, "Pretty funny." Now Mark is a funny guy prone to making penis jokes, or, well, drawing penis jokes. So that's what I had in mind when I checked the message. It was not a rude joke about the male member, but detailed instructions on how to deal with bats. As soon as I realized he was serious, I gasped and looked around the room. My eyes instantly zeroed in on the guano on the wall above the TV. Poor poor Ian, I thought, what a housesitting disaster.

I was thinking, too, about the cat puke.

Steve and I picked Eric up at the Halifax airport on Sunday night. After all the hellos and the settling in, Eric and I sat out on the lanai in the dark. He seemed a little quiet, maybe a little tense, but I put it down to travelling and being somewhere new. We chatted, there was a lull. He turned towards me.

"There's something I need to tell you," he said. I could feel the shot immediately, each molecule of adrenaline another worst case. "Freya's okay, I went and checked," he continued, and my shoulders came down from around my ears. "But she threw up on your bed." I started breathing again. "On your new sheets."


"But she's fine?"
"Yep, she seemed normal."
"Ah well, sheets are sheets. If Freya's fine, I can buy new sheets."
"And no one's slept on them."

As it turns out, I don't even have to buy new sheets, because Housesitter Ian did an amazing job of cleaning them when the stain was fresh. He washed them. Twice. With stain remover. He washed my mattress, even.

I'm not sure a medal is good enough.

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