The Garland Incident

The Garland Incident

Jun 08
The Garland Incident

Pets are wonderful – absolutely wonderful. And yet even the most wonderful pets will occasionally do something that will make you incredibly angry at the time.

Smokey lived for ten years – in that time she only did something that made me incredibly angry once. This became known as the Garland Incident.

Every year around Christmas, I would  string up garland around the inside walls of my bedroom, as well as putting some lights in my bedroom window. Stringing the garland wasn’t the easiest thing to do. I had a nail in one or two corners of my bedroom near the ceiling, but the other two corners would be held by tape.

Prior to this year, Smokey had never shown any real interest in the garland before. Prior to this year, however, she had also never seen me put it up.

She laid on my bed, fascinated, while I strung the garland. It took me the better part of an afternoon to do it because the tape kept falling down and, occasionally, Smokey would attack the trailing end of the garland.

I remember talking to her and telling her that she should leave it alone – she was the reason I had to hang it so high. I didn’t want her getting ahold of it and eating any part of the plastic – it could hurt her. She, being a cat, just watched me with wide, interested eyes as I worked.

Finally, the garland was hung, and I left my room to go watch a movie in the living room with my parents. Smokey had free range of the house – I thought nothing of leaving her in my room.

On the far side of my bed was a tall bookcase. A bookcase that Smokey had proven on multiple occasions that she could get on top of when she wanted to. It didn’t occur to me at the time that her bookshelf scaling ability put her in the perfect position to attack the strange, sparkly gold snake that I’d spend hours sticking to the wall.

The corner nearest the bookshelf was one of the corners where the garland was taped. I usually used scotch tape, but I think I’d used a single strip of duct or masking tape that year after several failures with the scotch tape. As a result, I figured it wasn’t going ANYWHERE, as sticky as it was.

A few hours later, I heard frantic jingling. Smokey wore a collar for her entire life – a little blue collar with a bell and a heart-shaped tag with her name and my contact information on it in case she ever ran outside. The few times she did dart outside, she was immediately overwhelmed by the largeness OF outside as a whole, and ran right back into the house. However, as a result of the collar, we always knew when she was coming.

And she sounded like she was racing all around the back bedrooms. I figured she was chasing a bug – she was a fantastic mouser with no mice to chase, so she tended to chase bugs – and I looked to my right from where I was sitting on the couch. This let me glance down the length of the hall past the dining room toward the bedrooms.

Then I saw her. She came streaking out of my room, trailing something long and sparkly behind her.

Oh no.

She went tearing into the dining room and by winding around under the dining table, finally managed to get the industrial strength tape to let go of her fur.

I was SO angry. I had, for some reason, trusted that she wouldn’t take down the garland after I told her not to. Admittedly, I was a hormonally irrational teenager at the time, but that doesn’t change that I was mad. From what I remember, my parents thought it was hilarious, and poor Smokey was freaked out.

It took me awhile to unwind the garland from where she’d frantically twisted it around EVERYTHING in the house while trying to escape, and even longer to put it back up again. Yes, I DID put it back up, even repairing a couple of sections that broke.

I continued to put up garland most of the rest of the time I lived with my parents, around the holidays.

Smokey though? Never bothered the garland again. In fact, when I pulled it out and started putting it up? She would go be elsewhere in the house any time I was dealing with the sparkly snake that bit on all sticky and didn’t let go.

I have no doubt that she had vivid memories of the Garland Incident for the rest of her little life. I know I’ll likely remember it for the rest of mine!