You know how you can be jabbering on the house phone and walk outside with it, and then notice this phone is dead? Probably everybody does that. Probably they don’t set it on the car hood and forget about it until they’re in the car wash.

Unless they’re carrying a cat.

I got to explain.

Remember that movie Home Alone? This happened to my sister-in-law Gloriosa. Only instead leaving her little boy, she left her cat.

Most cats would be fine home alone for a while, with a nice litter box and kibbles and water. But Shakespeare ain’t most cats. First thing he does every morning is inspect his litter box, and if it ain’t been freshly cleaned and sprayed with Febreze, he uses Gloriosa’s Oriental carpets.

Last week, Gloriosa calls me in a panic from an airport in Colorado. She and her husband got the kids and suitcases and ski stuff all packed for their winter vacation, and they didn’t sit down and talk to each other until they was on the plane, and that’s when they realized nobody took the cat to be boarded at the vet.

So I rush over. Shakespeare ain’t done no damage yet. I feed him and pet him. But I ain’t offering to cat-sit for two weeks, so I haul out his cat carrier to take him to the vet. He hisses and scoots behind the toilet.

Just then, Gloriosa calls on the living room phone. I tell her the problem and she says to get a pillowcase and reach under there and slip him into it; it makes him feel secure. I actually manage to do this while she waits on the phone. I am still talking to her, with the phone between my face and shoulder, while I carry this flowered pillowcase with claws out to the car.

I set the phone on the hood; wrestle the pillowcase into the passenger seat and jump in next to it. It settles down and curls up, nice and peaceful. I got to hand it to Gloriosa. She knows her Shakespeare.

Everything would have been fine, if I hadn’t passed that car wash with a New Year’s special. My car has been filthy since my son drove it God-knows-where; the cat is asleep and nobody is in line.

I pull in, stick my credit card into the slot, and when I get to the part where the car is being pulled through automatically, I see Gloriosa’s phone nestled between the windshield and the hood.

I zip down the window and twist my arm around the windshield and clutch at the phone, just in time for the deluge. The phone gets wet, I get wet, the front seat gets wet and the pillowcase yowls and shoots under the seat.

Rice, I think. Shove the phone in rice. I grab the beach towel in the trunk for when the seat gets hot; I dry off, then I run into Rouses for a big bag of rice. Also catnip, to soothe Shakespeare.

I bury that phone in the rice. Then I deliver Shakespeare, damp and high on catnip (“Carl Arrendando was sure right about expecting sudden showers,” I tell the vet.) Finally, I go home for a nice warm bath. I don’t even need no shampoo. I already been soaped up good.

While I’m in the tub, my daughter Gladiola comes home, decides to be helpful and puts away the bag of rice. Well. Out of sight, out of mind, like they say. I forget about the phone.
Until the next Monday, when I go to make a pot of red beans and rice.

I empty the bag of rice into the pan of water and phone plunks into it.

I snatch it out with tongs and dry it off. Again. Then I say a lot of bad words. Finally, I pick rice grains out the earhole with my eyebrow tweezers. Then I bring it back to Gloriosa’s. She ain’t home yet, so I just leave it on its charging stand. I tell God I’m sorry about the bad words and say a little prayer.

And that’s that, until Gloriosa gets home and calls to thanks me for rescuing her cat and carpets. I ask what phone she’s using. It is the one in her living room; that phone.

Evidently some phones have nine lives. Or it’s a miracle. You decide.