Cattywampus

For a while, in graduate school, I dated a surgical resident. It made a sort of sense; I had years in the operating room; she was an MD on a surgical residency; we could talk shop.
I was not working in the OR but was picking up some extra cash transporting patients at her hospital. One night I wound up in the perpetually short-staffed EW opening up minor surgical packs, instrument kits and tossing sterile sutures onto the operative field. She said it was love at first sight, a man who was not an MD who understood her world and who didn’t object when she came home after a thirty-six-hour shift smelling like spilled blood and septic cases. Such was life.

Not so thrilled with the arrangement was the Gray Menace, Clancy J Bümps. She referred to him as her sweet little cattywampus. Being sensitive to how things are said, he sensed an insult. There was nothing in disarray, askew or out of order with the Menace – It was he who disarrayed, put askew, and disordered. If you wanted to retain your O negative blood, you remembered this.
She accused him of having the reverse of myalgic encephalopathy. Instead of a chronic fatigue problem, he was overactive. His daily ambit was a prowl around the old mansion on Tulpehocken St., where we lived, to visit friends, enemies, and make trouble.
Things fell apart as her residency ended. She started planning our wedding. It came as news to me that she wanted to make our arrangement permanent. She announced our move back to her hometown of Charleston. I reminded her I had grad work to finish and got reminded that she’d be the breadwinner in the family. I maintained that I was not Trophy Husband material. The Menace began to stalk her. She told me that it was her or the cat. I shrugged well if that was how it was to be.

Later that spring, I prepared for my annual summer return to Boston, confirmed my housing, summer job, and renewed my membership for sailing at Community Boating. The Menace sharpened his claws in expectations of many Boston cats to be made cattywampus.

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