Golden birthday catPublished 9:22am Monday, January 10, 2011
Column: Angie Barker, Entertain Me
Golden birthdays, otherwise known as GB, are a celebration of turning the age of the date you were born on and are a monumental deal in our family. Your GB was like hitting the bonus of every game, winning on a scratch-off ticket and being the 100th customer all rolled into one. Maybe I should have said that it was like being the 100th customer where you win scratch-off tickets with bonus games and win every time. I should have used that analogy instead. It was way better. Next time.
I was seven when I reached my GB. I had been begging for a pet. To understand this request you need a little back story. My mom isn’t an animal fan. I guess that’s really all the back story necessary. My mom knew if we got a pet the responsibility would fall to her to take care of it. That information, in conjunction with her superhuman ability to resist the cuteness of kittens and puppies, meant no furry friends for this little lady. No worries, I had a plan. First, I would relentlessly badger my mom. Every. Single. Day. Just in case plan A failed, I had G-O-D as my secret weapon to help get a D-O-G. I prayed nightly for Mom to see things my way. I knew God was on my side because I pressed my hands together really, reaaaally hard, and every seven-year-old knows that the harder you press the more God understands your need.
Then my GB arrived on a magical cloud of rainbow happiness. My dreams were about to come true. My parents took me to a pet store and said I could pick out anything in the store. ANYTHING IN THE STORE! This was serious. I had to meet each of the animals to see if they possessed the charisma needed to be my newest best friend. Fish were out immediately due to lack of snuggling. Next were all reptiles and amphibians. I assumed they were slimy. Mom visibly exhaled when I made that announcement. At seven I assumed the entire world was thinking the same thing as me, so Mom has just confirmed my slime theory. I would be a teenager before that myth was debunked.
Next, to be eliminated were birds. My cousins had a parakeet and while it was cute and soft to touch, it also flew. That may seem obvious, but who wants to be dive-bombed while watching Cartoon Express? I had a bad bat experience once and the unpredictable flight patterns of birds caused flashbacks. Sorry birds, you’re out.
That left kittens and puppies. I’m going to be honest, they were the only real competitors, but even at seven I felt that I had to give the other animals an equal opportunity for adoption. I lost that diplomacy right around the time I figured out snakes weren’t slimy. I don’t think the two were correlated though. It had more to do with being a self-centered-the-world-revolves-around-me teenage girl. I am speaking from personal experience, not about teenage girls in general. And my diplomacy is back.
In the end I picked a white ball of Persian kitten-y sweetness. I named him Jackson; we paid with two 20 dollar bills. Not a popular cat name, but as my son can attest I like unique names. The fluffy furball made me the happiest child in the world. That is what my parents made GB’s for us. They put a life-altering decision in the hands of a seven-year-old. I’m sure there was plenty of gentle guidance like, “Are you sure you don’t want a kitty? Feel how soft his fur is.” Especially since my dad is a major cat lover, and I ended up picking a cat. Coincidence? Maybe, but that’s not how I remember it. In the end they made me believe I had the whole world of pets to choose from and I still believe that.
Today is my son Auslund’s, golden birthday and I’m wrapping this up because I’ve got some magic to make.
Albert Lea resident Angie Zoller Barker’s column appears every Monday in the Albert Lea Tribune. Email questions, recommendations, or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.