So the cats are confined to the upstairs living area.
All in all, they seem perfectly happy up there. They have cabinets and nooks and crannies to hide behind, windows to sun themselves in, cat and people furniture to play on, and so forth. Plus, it's really not that much less space than they had with free run of the house we used to live in. As I write, I can hear the thunder of tiny hoofbeats from above, as a couple of the cats chase each other around the room above.
Now, one thing about having four cats is that they shed about eight times as much as one cat would. I'm not sure how this works, but I do know that what with one thing and another, the furniture upstairs was looking a little like it had furniture covers made of fur. After vacuuming the room thoroughly (and ending up with a trash bag full of the makings of probably six or seven cats worth of hair), I considered doing something about the furniture as well.
I promptly changed my mind. I mean, that furniture was scary!
I should also mention that, in addition to being the Cats' Room, the upstairs living room is also where I sit every morning and drink my coffee. The upstairs living room is also the only indoor smoking area in the house (another compromise for Mom's ability to visit), so I occasionally go up there for a quick cig if the weather is bad. Charlie and I used to hang out together up there, watching TV, or me reading while he played video games, but he hadn't been up there for a long time.
I went back downstairs, got something to eat, had a cigarette or two, and read my book for a little while. I ran into Charlie, who was just finishing up cleaning out our travel trailer. (I guess the whole cleaning thing must be contagious.) I told him I'd got done vacuuming up there, and he mentioned something like he was afraid to sit down anywhere in there due (I assume) to the furriness of the furniture and the allergens contained within.
Suddenly, it became very clear to me that if I wanted Charlie to hang out with me up there, I'd have to do it.
I'd have to vacuum the furniture.
Or, should I say, the FUR-niture?
Either way. It was scary.
Using the hand-held attachment, I basically scrubbed at the couch, the chair, the hassock, everything for about an hour and a half until finally, the furniture was no longer furry. Indeed, you could actually see the color of the loveseat and the holes in the chair. You may not think this was an improvement, but believe me, it was.
I still haven't completely cleaned up the coffee table, though, which brings me to the whole reason that the title of this entry is "Headed for jail."
After three and a half hours of cleaning and vacuuming and fur-scrubbing, I decided to leave the coffee table clutter for another time. As I was sitting there contemplating it, I recalled the story of the Coffee Table Police.
A friend of mine, Andrew, from work was over and the two of us had been working on hooking up my DSL. While we were putting things away (things that had been laid out on the coffee table), my nephew came over. (I think he was about 3 or 4 at the time.) With his dad (my brother) living in Boston, my nephew seemed to really latch on to males of around his dad's age, and Andrew was no exception. He started asking him "What's this?" and "What's that?" and "Whatcha doing?" and, of course, his favorite, "Why?"
I gathered up the last few bits of wire off the coffee table, and handed them to Andrew.
"Whatcha doin?" asked Taylor.
"I'm putting these things away," I answered.
"Because we need to clean off the coffee table," I explained.
"Because you can't have a mess on your coffee table," I said.
"Because if you have a mess on your coffee table, then the Coffee Table Police will come to your house."
He regarded me gravely, as he considered this. His face brightened. "And they'll take you to JAIL!" he exclaimed gleefully.
"Yes, Coffee Table jail is a bad deal," I agreed.
Andrew was trying not to snicker as he left.
I chuckled a bit under my breath, and took Taylor up to see the cats. He always loved to go see the cats, even more so because most of them hid from him, making it a rollicking game of hide and go seek.
In the Cats' Room, we keep the cats' food in a dispenser on top of a small end table, in order to keep it sort of out of reach of the dog. Over time, the cats drop little bits and pieces of the dry food on the table outside the dispenser, and there were about six or seven little bits of food there.
Taylor walked in, looked around, saw this, and got the most horrified expression on his face as he spotted the bits of cat food on the table.
"OH NO! A MESS!" he shrieked, as only a four-year-old can shriek, "We can't HAVE this!"
He ran over to the table and started picking up the bits and pieces of food into his other hand, while looking around frantically.
Suddenly, the sound of a siren could be heard faintly from outside our open window.
Taylor jumped about a foot in the air, and quavered, "Is that the Coffee Table Police?"
I looked out the window, then looked back at him with a straight face. "No, no. I think you got it in time. We're all right."
"Good," said Taylor, obviously relieved. He resumed his search for the cats who were, by now, smart enough to hide when they heard the child coming.
I didn't think anything more about it, and pretty much forgot about the Coffee Table Police until later that night, when I received a call from Mom, with whom Taylor was spending the weekend.
"You need to be careful what you say to Taylor," she stated crisply.
"What do you mean?" I asked. "I don't think I've ever cussed around him or anything -- I do try to be pretty careful."
"No, no, it's not THAT," she said, "When I got him home today, he went straight to my coffee table, and said, 'Oh, no Gramma! You have a mess! The Coffee Table Police will come and get us!' and started frantically trying to gather up my books and papers and whatnot."
Oh. Yeah. That. I was a little embarassed, but amused at the same time.
"What did you do?" I asked her.
"I told him the Coffee Table Police do not come to Gramma's house," she replied matter-of-factly.
Now, that I can believe, I thought, although to my credit, out loud I apologized for unduly influencing Taylor's young mind.
Looking at the current state of my coffee table, it's a damn good thing the Coffee Table Police don't come to Gramma's house.
Or, for that matter, Uncle Charlie's house either.
Or I would definitely be headed to jail.