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Two of the dumbest things I’ve ever done

Why is it that the only thing you find in the dark is your toe? Or that thing that is missing usually shows up when you quit looking for it? Or something that you never thought you wanted ends up finding a place in your life?

It happened to me when a kink-tail, cross-eyed, height-loving, loud-mouth, full-blooded Siamese cat just appeared and took up residency in my garage. She was feral and immediately had five kittens.

I was flattered that she felt comfortable in our junk-filled garage that hadn’t been cleaned out since 1994. Maybe this is why I didn’t bother to clean it out in the first place.

It took weeks of my sweet, honey-dripping, cooing conversations to give her some ease with my company. I eventually named her Nigh-Nigh, because when you are trying to endear and comfort a child going to bed, you softly say nigh-nigh.

Eventually it worked, and she allowed me close because soon it became all about the kittens. When she finally thought it was OK for me to handle them, I guess she changed her mind and moved them under the house. Well, I’d show her. I decided to get them and put them back.

The old farmhouse doesn’t have a foundation, and the crawl space was practically nonexistent. But I managed to squeeze myself into it, one shoulder at a time up to my mid-section, but I was about as comfortable as an air mattress in a tube top. So after I stuffed myself into the tiny hole, flashlight in one hand, I began to try to find the kittens.

My arm was fully extended, when all of a sudden, a rat scurried over my hand. Did I mention that rats freak me out? My reaction was to cringe, shrink, shudder, scream and retract my arm, but when I did that, it threw my back up against the beam that was suspended above the pier that held it up. And immediate pain resulted.

I shimmied back out of the space just a little bit while I considered removing myself completely. No way. I was under there, and I was determined to get those dang kittens. So I tried it again. I extended my arm out — not as far this time — and another rat did the same thing. It was like a race track under there.

OK, I’m not sure it was a different rat because I didn’t have time to do an ID and reference check. It seemed to scurry at the same pace, and I think it was just as startled as I was. I reacted the same as I had the first time — cringe, scream, shudder and retract my arm. I expanded into the beam again, only this time I damaged a different part of my back. Now I was wounded. I gave up and eased my way slowly out of the hole.

The next day, I couldn’t get out of bed. But with the help of the ambulance crew, I made it to the emergency room to have it determined that I had broken my back in two places. So along with gloom, despair and deep, dark depression, I was in agony. How stupid could I get? That wasn’t one of the brightest ideas I’ve ever had. Wait, it wasn't one but two. Those were two of the dumbest things I’ve ever done in my life.

I eventually adopted the kittens to their forever homes, conniving Nigh-Nigh into a surprise trip to the vet for the prevention of any further poor decisions by the both of us. Now she is a permanent fixture on the bed at night where she sleeps comfortably after forgiving my trespasses before she was ready. She takes her name literally. Nigh-Nigh.

But you can count on one thing. The flashlight battery died while shedding light on the rats that continue to live under the house, and as far as I am concerned, it died there, and it can stay there. And, by the way, Nigh-Nigh is too busy sleeping on the bed to bother with the rats and hasn’t been out in the garage since. She’s smarter than I am, because I have since had to clean it out, rat poop and all. Sheesh.

Marilyn White lives in Medford.

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