The Day I Almost Killed the Cat, or Why I Hate Static Electricity

Static electricity is, by far, one of the worst, scum­of­the­earth annoyances around. When it’s cold outside, I either get zapped at, sparked at,  or discharged on, all winter long. It’s so bad in my house, I can’t even pull the metal chain on the ceiling fan without getting damn near electrocuted.

Last year, on a cold December day, while my wife was out shopping, I decided to watch a ball game on TV and enjoy a couple of beers. As is my custom, and much to the chagrin of my wife, I keep the front door wide open with the outer, storm door, pulled shut and latched. This gives me the ability to see my wife’s car when she pulls into the driveway from the comfort of my easy chair and gives me enough time to pick up my empty beer cans.  (You husbands know what I’m talking about.)

The second half of the ball game was about to commence when the doorbell rang. There, all huddled together on my front porch stoop were a few of those nice, religious type people that go from door to door in the neighborhood handing out pamphlets and talking about some place, probably in Texas, called Armageddon. “They’re just looking for converts,” my wife would always say. “Don’t you dare sign anything.”

Forever trying to be a good Christian, I always invited them in. This time was no exception. I figured they could stay inside a few minutes, get warm, leave me a pamphlet, and be on their way. My hypothesis was that their visit to my house was penance for not accompanying my wife to the mall, as I should have. What happened next was an accident, I swear to God.

Grabbing the beer with my left hand, I slid off the couch, slipped on my wooly slippers, and sauntered on over to greet my visitors. As I reached for the metal latch, a giant three­foot yellow spark leaped from the door and zapped me with a shock so intense it knocked me sideways against the wall. My Budweiser hit the floor spewing foam all over the front of my pants. The sudden movement and vocal (“dammit­to­hell”) expletives must have created quite a negative impression on the group because they quickly vacated my front porch leaving behind hundreds of pamphlets scattered all over the yard.

Standing out in front of my house with a wet crotch and a foamy beer can, I watched as they sped  down the street on their bikes,­ shirt tails and butts, flapping in the wind. My neighbor walked over and asked me what happened, to which I replied. “I think I’ve just been blacklisted by the Holy Brethren of Mount Ararat Worshipers.”

That night, over supper, I told my wife the whole story.  To my dismay, she was not overly sympathetic. She’s not plagued by static shocks like I am and thinks I’m making too much fuss. “Man­up”, she’s said time and time again. “Grin and bear it like a man.”  Her continued disinterest troubled me somewhat and caused me reflection for several days. She just did not understand my plight. I needed to find a way to help her feel my pain.

The very next morning, I came up with a plan. A good one if I do say so myself. On Sunday nights, right after the local news, my wife usually falls asleep on the couch. It’s her only nap of the week and her way of dealing with the stress of Monday mornings. Her nap is short but noisily intense.

We have avocado ­colored shag carpeting in our living room which fit right into my plan. I’d put on my wooly slippers, drag my feet over the floor until I was sure I had built up a nice static charge, sneak on over to where she was sleeping, gently touch my finger to her earlobe, and then ZAP! She’d receive thousands of electric volts, wake up with some ringing in her ears, and finally, come to the realization what I had been saying was the truth all along. Static shocks are the scum of the earth. We’d share the same plight each winter, and she’d no longer assail me for being such a wimp.

It was time to put my magnificent plan into action. After a few minutes of foot­dragging on the carpet, I knew I had an unusually large charge built­up because I could feel the hair on my arm tickled as it waved back and forth, like ripe wheat swaying in the breeze on a remote Kansas farm.

As I was in the process of scooting on down to the end of the couch where she was sleeping it dawned on me. What if my clever plan should fail? What if the static shock should have no effect on her? What if she just woke up with my finger in her ear and no ZAP.

Too many “what­ifs” for me. Being the perfectionist that I am, I needed assurance that my plan would work. I needed PROOF. What I needed was a TEST SUBJECT.

The cat, her cat Fluffy, was asleep on the other end of the couch curled up in a gray ball, with one ear pointed straight up, like sleeping cats have a tendency to do. I reversed my foot dragging direction, got down on my knees and slowly crawled across the floor toward Fluffy, my index finger poised for the spark. The hair was still twitching on my arm meaning that the high voltage amperage charge was still there. This was going to be good, and quite amusing.

Bracing my left hand on the floor I used my right index finger to sneak up on Fluffy’s ear. Closer and closer I sneaked. Three inches. Two inches. One inch ­ BANG, SCREECH, YEOWWWW, POOF!

The shock bounced my entire body up off the floor. My finger was still bent into a pointing position but had turned grayish black and all covered with goo. Burnt cat goo. There was a small puff of smoke rising toward the ceiling and a horrible stench in the air. My head was hurting and Fluffy was missing.

And of course, all this commotion woke up my wife.  I got up off my knees and wiped my finger on the back of my pants. “What in the hell are you doing down there?” she asked. “I dropped my car keys and thought they went under the couch”, I answered. “Sorry. I woke you up, didn’t I? Go on back to sleep”.

Fluffy was outside, okay but dazed. I scooped her up to carry her back inside. As I reached for the metal door, the second time today, (you guessed it),  ZAP! ­

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