Monday, November 14, 2011

Roswell (incomplete)

I grasped the knob of the color TV set with my 5-year-old fingers and turned it to the right to produce a satisfying “click.” As the screen crackled with static electricity, the picture gradually formed. Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman appeared to save another day, and my Saturday morning had begun.

We had moved to Roswell, New Mexico, several months earlier for my dad to take a ministry job. Roswell was a normal, quiet town then. No conventions for alien enthusiasts yet. Just a dry, dusty town, but the view of the famed El Capitan mountain in the distance helped make up for the town’s drabness.

The TV was new in our house. We had replaced our black and white TV with this new Curtis Mathis color set and now, Saturday mornings were the highlight of my week. My parents warned us not to wake them up too early on Saturdays, but my brother Brian and I were never tempted to. We were content to watch Saturday morning cartoons in this vibrant new world of color television.

On this particular morning, my mom was out of town while my dad slumbered on in their room down the hall. Brian and I perched ourselves on the couch and became entranced in Wonder Woman’s adventures. I wanted those bracelets of hers that could deflect enemy bullets. I think Brian just wanted Lynda Carter. Suddenly, Brian yelled and jumped from the couch. I sat frozen, aware of the fact that if something was bad enough to rattle my older brother, it could be even worse news for me. But then again, it never took much to freak Brian out.

From where he stood in the middle of the living room, he pointed in mute shock at our cat, Tippy, who I thought had been curled up asleep just a moment before. She had something under her paw. Something small that moved. At first glance, I thought she had caught a mouse and was eating it. But a closer look revealed that Tippy was holding a newborn kitten in her paws while her rough tongue cleared the placenta away.

In the few seconds it took me to assess what was happening, Brian had run down the hall, kicked my parents’ bedroom door open so hard that the door knob thunked into the wall, startled our dad out of a deep sleep, and yelled, “Tippy’s having kittens in front of the TV set!”

We had known for weeks that Tippy was pregnant. I just thought it was something of a permanent condition and never imagined it would culminate in such Saturday-morning excitement. Brian dashed back to the living room and pointed at Tippy amid breathless chants of “See? See?” to my dad, who had sleepily stumbled down the hall behind him. Our dad confirmed that yes, Tippy had become an active participant in the miracle of life right there on our living room floor. And mommy cats like to be alone when their babies are born. So my dad found a shallow box for Tippy and her rapidly expanding family, and we quickly dressed and left the house, Wonder Woman forgotten.


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