We had a black and white cat named Sniffles. We didn’t name it Sniffles. The neighbors did. He was abandoned at the pre-school where my mom worked, and she brought him home. The neighbor’s wanted him, so shortly after we adopted Sniffles at our house, he moved next door and was adopted by the neighbors, and named Sniffles. Then when the neighbor’s moved several years later, Sniffles was re-adopted by us. This cat was destined to be maladjusted.
My mom once asked my brother, who was in high school at the time, to take Sniffles to the vet. My brother, being in the difficult teen stage of not wanting to do anything other than exactly what he wanted to do, decided to enact some revenge for mom having asked him to run the simple errand.
It turns out in fact that Sniffles had some sort of infection and needed an antibiotic. The vet phoned the prescription in at our local Rite Aid. This Rite Aid was and had been used for all of our prescription needs for 20 years. We also used it as our convenience store, stopping in on the way home to pick up toilet paper or toothpaste or a Birthday card we’d forgotten all about. It’s safe to say that we were in Rite Aid several times per week. My family was so entrenched in the inner workings of Rite Aid that my mom could name everyone who worked there and give you the latest office politics.
My mom stopped in to Rite Aid to pick up Sniffles prescription. She went up to the pharmacy window and in an exchange I can only imagine involved lots of “how have you beens” and chat about the weather and the changes in the neighborhood, my mom asked for the prescription for Sniffles DeMarco. The pharmacist rustled through the prescription bags but couldn’t find anything.
He looked again. “I don’t have anything for a Sniffles DeMarco, but I do have a prescription for a Nipples DeMarco.” My mom knew instantly what had happened. While at the vet with Sniffles, my brother “officially” changed the cat’s name. In an act of sheer fortitude, my mom acknowledged the prescription as hers, and rushed out of the Rite Aid.
Our front door opened with such anger and with a such a bang, it sounded like she had kicked the door in. My mom’s voice echoed through the entire house, “Who…the f*$@…changed the cat’s name…to Nipples?” If she was concerned about that name being announced across the Rite Aid, she had become comfortable enough with the thought of it to scream it through the neighborhood.
My brother, fearing the wrath, did what anyone would have done, he blamed his brother. “Matt did it,” he said. This had the opposite effect because it only made her madder, “He’s in college. He doesn’t even live here anymore!!!”
And like she was left to do so many times in the course of raising two boys, she walked upstairs to her room, shut the door, cooled down, and went on in spite of what we put her through.