Go see your aunt,” my mother nagged after Sunday night dinner. “She misses
you. You don’t go see her enough.”
“I’ve got way better things to do. I really don’t want to, Ma,” I whined.
“Go. She doesn’t have anybody. And she’s interesting! She has a lot of life
experience to share.”
“Ma, she’s interesting like a fender-bender or…a personality disorder,” I
“Oh, stop. She’s your aunt.”
“I get all unspooled when I go there, Ma.” I pushed away my plate of pecan pie,
“For Pete’s sake, what does that mean?”
“It means that I want to crawl out of my skin when I’m there,” I said.
“You young people. I wish you’d speak English. Go see your aunt.”
“Jeez, Ma. I’m 42.”
Yada, yada, yada.
Aunt Rachel was eccentric, to say the least. Her house smelled of cats
—cat food, cat box, cat everything.
I’d lost count of how many cats she had. I’d tried to count, but they skittered
around like so many bugs. Had I already counted the gold and white tiger-striped cat?
Were there two or three black cats? Ten total? Twenty? Too damn many cats.
And for some weird reason, Aunt Rachel always wore black stretch pants, the
kind with stirrups…covered in cat hair, like she was, herself, morphing into one of
the felines. She often wore a teal blue, too-big sweatshirt, adorned with a sequined
kitten covered in “real” fur. Puffy, white, fraying cotton ball things hung off of the
Aunt Rachels’ gang of cats climbed on the kitchen table, the counters, the
tops of cupboards. I had, unsuspectingly, sat on my share of cats at Aunt Rachel’s.
Once, I bit into yummy-looking, homemade chocolate chip cookie that hid cat hair. I
had watched the cats pee in the toaster.
“Would you like a cup of tea?” Aunt Rachel would ask.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” I’d mumble. I was not a fan of Cat Hair Tea.
“What’s that, honey? You have to speak up, so your old aunt can hear you.”
“No, thank you. I’m good, Aunt Rachel,” I’d say. She would smile sweetly at
me, and for just a moment, I’d feel guilty about thinking she was a nutball.
I couldn’t figure out Aunt Rachel’s Cheshire Cat grin. What did she have to be
so happy about? A “million” cats? Bad smells? Filth?
“When are you going to see her? Call her and tell her you’re coming,” my
mother continued to chide.
I looked at my watch. “Ma, I gotta go now. I’ll call her, okay?”
I headed home…alone, to my bleak little apartment.
Dawn Ellis is an eighth grade language arts and U.S. history teacher and has been a teacher for 36 years. Ellis loves to write. Whether she makes it big or not, she doesn’t care. She is taking a continuing education creative writing class at TCC for fun. “Cat Hair and Stretch Pants” was inspired by a photo she had to write about in the class. It was of a woman, standing in her kitchen, with a big grin on her face, and cats on the kitchen table, counters, cupboards . . . everywhere.