Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sneezin' and snottin' and doin' round.

Imagine, if you can, a little old lady. She has skin that looks like the sun has nearly baked it clean off her face. Her short, curly hair, often not brushed, is mashed up on one side where she was sleeping on it. She honestly looks older than mud. Not to be disrespectful, I really had a soft spot for old Dortha. My kids called her Dorthy cause that's just how they heard it the first time she told us her name.

She had a raspy, old, smoker's voice with a southern drawl that went on forever. She called me "Jo" and she could never remember my husband's name either. She was drunk half the time and always had a cigarette hanging from her mouth. She would bring food over that even tasted like cigarette smoke cause she smoked so much in her house.

This was the one of our neighbors we have had over the years. I make her out to sound horrible, and in reality, she was, but we made nice most of the time and when she was sober, I really enjoyed her company. When she was drunk, she would lie and steal from her own kin. She certainly did from us. One time, she hollered across the street to my son who was probably only about 7 at the time "I wayer the same kiiiind of uhhhnderwayer as yooooooo! Loouuuk!" and proceeded to undo and lower her pants to reveal men's underwear!

It wasn't that we weren't grateful that she shared her food with us. She was always cooking up something and since it was just her, would have all kinds of leftovers. She wasn't dirty or anything, I trusted her food and she was a good cook, I even used some of her recipes, but if it had been in her house, it tasted like cigarettes. We just couldn't eat it.

She could be very sweet and I spent many hours sitting on her front porch with her, talking and watching all the neighborhood kids running up and down the street. I even took her out for her 80th birthday to a Mexican restaurant and had them put the big sombrero on her and sing to her. Oh she loved that. And boy did she flirt with the little Mexican boys who waited on us!

It was she who coined the phrase I used as the title for this post. Whenever she was sick with even the slightest sniffle, I would ask how she was and she would say, "oh aaahhhm just sneaaaazin' an snaahhtin' an doin' round." My kids would get so tickled at her use of the word "snot".

Well, Old Dorthy is the source of this Russell story. She called me over one day and regaled me with some heretofore unknown tales of the Russell. This is what she recounted to me.

Russell as we have established had a mischievous streak. Well, this tendency had begun to show itself in the form of torturing my cats. Now keep in mind, that Russell at the time of these stories was no more than five years old and a) those cats when stretched out, were longer than he was tall and b) cats are well able to defend themselves if they REALLY feel threatened.

Dorthy said that on several occasions she had seen Russell grab one cat or the other under the front arms and drag them, hind feet literally dragging between his legs as he tried to walk, to the street, wait for a car, and try to throw the squirming cat in front of the car. No alarm there. Due to the aforementions size difference and the resulting squirm, cats didn't go very far. But the thought of this little boy with his infamous, felonious grin, attempting to unsuccessfully throw a squirmy cat, left me finding it very hard to be serious about a potentially serious offense. I had to cover my mouth to keep him from seeing the smirk I was trying desperately to control.

Then Dorthy told me that Russell had also taken the cat next door where there was a 5 gallon bucket of water. He then proceeded to feed the cat into the bucket and hold it in the water. How he did it without getting clawed to shreds is beyond me, but again, there was little opportunity for harm considering there was more cat to put in the bucket than there was Russell to put it there. She said he then got tired of fighting the thing and used his foot to reach into the bucket and attempt to hold the cat. It was then that the cat escaped leaving Russell covered in water and giggling hysterically. My smirk was now a snicker.

Dorthy continued her story with her wonderment at how this cute, little, red-headed cherub could be so mean. She said in her down-to-earth, southern way that one day we had just come home from one of our family outings. We often went on excursions to Land Between the Lakes and took picnics. She said my husband was emptying the van and pulled out the cooler. It was full of ice water. He went to dump the water in the grass beside the driveway when he saw the cat lazing in the sun on the front porch. Dorthy said that same felonious grin crossed my husband's face and the entire cooler full of ice water was ceremoniously dumped on my nice, warm, sleeping cat. Dorthy said, "I knooo then where the boyyyy got it." My smirk? My snicker? I knew all too well of what my husband was capable of. He hates my cats. I laughed till I cried.