Over the past several years, it has become a tradition for my parents to hold a social gathering at their house during the winter break. My parent’s house is sufficiently large to hold the winter gathering. However, we set up a pop-up tent outside the kitchen sliding door. The tent has three sides and the house acts as the fourth side. Inside the tent, we will place the beverages, ice, and sodas. In addition, we place chairs, a light, and a space heater to help keep it warm. Our friends and family have jokingly nicknamed the tent “The Ice House”.
The tent is laughingly called an “Easy Up” tent. Those are the last words I would use to describe it. The tent never just goes up without being forced. You get one leg up then the other pops out of its place and falls. It’s never even. And those things that you have to push in to get the legs to move up a notch to adjust the legs are just a pain. Usually a leg adjustment means someone has to lose a layer of skin on one a finger. The sides of the tent NEVER “just zip on like magic”. It’s a moving jigsaw puzzle when trying to figure out which way is up with the panels. They act like sails in the slightest breeze….whoosh, she gone. There is no “Easy Up” with this stupid thing.
My mother, brother, and I worked on putting up the tent for the Ice House. From the moment it was removed from its bag there were problems: Where should it go? What sides do we use? What are we going to use to hold it down? Where will the beverage table go? How many chairs do we need? Do we have light? Why is the ice there? The “Why is Jack out here?” came with the orange tabby cat entering the tent from the house.
Jack is one of my parents’ cats. They have two: Jack and Bones. Jack is allowed outside for short periods with human supervision to roam. He’s very dog like in the fact that he comes when called. So, it was not unusual to see Jack out exploring the on goings with the tent. He walked in and out of the house several times. He walked in and out of the tent several times. He was surveying the situation…until he decided to act.
Out of the blue we all heard a tearing noise. The three of us stopped in our tent wrangling and listened.
“What’s that?” my mother asked.
I saw it before they did, “Oh, my god!” I yelled pointing at the side of the tent. “Jack is climbing up the side of the tent!”
My mom turned without missing a beat, “Get down, Jack!” she admonished the moving shadow as it climbed the side of the tent.
“Jack!” was all I could say as I saw him reach the tent top and start to traverse towards the roof of the house. My brother started to laugh at the cat. “That is not funny!” I said to him as I turned to see the cat heading towards the roof.
My sister in law was the calm headed one. She reached up between the roof and the tent and grabbed Jack. “You are a bad cat,” she said stroking him gently. She then put him down inside the house with the slider door still open. He bolted out of the house, into the tent, under the side of it, and out into the yard.
“We will get him once we are done…” my mom remarked and turned to continue fastening the sides of the tent. Moments later, we all heard the same noise again. Jack had jumped on the hot tub and was climbing up the side of the tent using his nails for leverage. “I’m going to kill that cat if he rips this tent,” my mom said trying to jump and hit the underside of Jack. He was now on the roof of the tent. “GET DOWN!” she yelled.
Jack was too smart and quick for all of us this time. He quickly ran across the tent and popped out of view.
I threw opened the tent zipper door and ran out. Turning I saw where he had gone. “He’s on the roof,” I gasped. “JACK!” I yelled. “You get down here now! NOW!” The cat turned, looked at me, sniffed, and continued his ascent of the roof. “JAAAAACK!” I yelled again.
Just then my brother stuck his head out of the tent, “Oy!” he admonished, “What do you live in a barn? Close the door.”
“Jack is on the roof!” I said pointing at the cat. “JACK!” I called again.
“And be quiet!” my bother said. “The whole neighborhood is going to hear you…” With that he zipped up the tent effectively leaving me out in the cold.
‘Fine,’ I thought, ‘I’ll get him down myself.’ I ran around to the front of the house and into the garage. I got a step-stool and went to the front landing. I got up on the stool and peered over the roof of the house. Jack was sitting there halfway between the peak and the gutter. “Jack… Jack…” I pleaded, “Get down here, dude.” Jack’s response? He ignored me and started to take a bath. “Well then,” I said getting down off of the step ladder. I went back into the house by the front door. “What the heck am I going to do about Jack?” I asked my mom, brother, and sister-in-law.
“Nothing,” was the response from all three. I was incredulous about their responses. They all agreed: “he figured out how to get up there…he’ll get hungry and figure out how to get down soon enough…”
To prove his point, my brother grabbed the treat can, opened the sliding door, walked out into the tent, shook the can, and yelled for Jack. He walked back into the house. “Five minutes,” he said handing me the can.
“Ha!” I scoffed, “I bet you and Dad will on a ladder tonight.” My brother shook his head no. I put the treat can back on top of the refrigerator. I sat down at the kitchen table a bit worried about Jack. Then the unthinkable happened. Jack was at the back sliding door wanting in the house. “JACK!” I said a bit too loudly. I got up and opened the door. Jack walked in as if nothing had happened.
My brother turned from his cooking, “I told you so…” was all he could say.
“Whatever,” I said bending down to pet Jack. He was purring. “I’m happy to see you too, dude.”
My brother had to have the last word, “He’s not happy to see you… He wants a treat…” I got the can down from the top of the fridge and gave Jack several treats. Once they were gone, he abandoned me for my brother.
“I was the one worried about you, Jack…” I said to his tail.
“Yeah,” my brother laughed, “But I was the one with the treats…”