Pets, Vets, and Automobiles

images (4)I am seriously underwhelmed by my latest visit to the vet.

I am blaming this on Obama. Perhaps the political landscape has become so imbued with universal healthcare rhetoric that veterinarians are afraid it might extend to (gasp) animals, thereby limiting their income. Could it be, in a seedy, underhanded attempt to rake in as much money as possible before the nation’s animal population becomes eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, that vets are banding together to boost the animalcare bubble?

It’s the only plausible explanation I can think of.

Before I explain what happened, here’s a little backstory: I have owned cats for most of my life. I think I got my first one at approximately age 10 and I’ve had one or two ever since. (Dog people, you are welcome to stop reading if the thought of life without dogs and WITH cats makes you queasy.) At any rate, I didn’t have much in the way of vet bills except the periodic rabies or feline leukemia vaccination. Maybe a de-worming or two. And I bought Advantage once in a while in case of fleas. Pretty routine, reasonable stuff.

I realize now that the decision to have an indoor or an outdoor cat makes a big difference as far as vet bills go, because, well, let’s face it – outdoor catsimages (5) get, um, squashed flat by cars. I have suffered through my share of flat cats, let me tell you. It’s not pretty. But it is cheap, because, of course, in the case of cat-flattening, no vet bills are necessary, as 1) their lives are cut rather short, thereby eliminating ongoing vet bills, and 2) no end-of-life shot is necessary; just scoop into bag and bury in location of choice.

However, after I experienced four or five unfortunate cat-flattenings, I got tired of burying them, and decided instead, to keep my new replacement cats in the house. No cars in the house. Made perfect sense, and I didn’t mind the cat-poop-scooping and loved how they looked like adorable, fuzzy home decor wherever they curled up.  A cat adds instant coziness to a room, kind of like a living candle with fur. Plus, an indoor cat has the added bonus of scaring the heck out of tiny, lost field mice should they scamper into the house.

Grumpy_catNow back to the vet story: I took one of my cats (the old one that has developed stuff that needs seeing about) in a PetsMart softside carrier to a vet that came highly recommended. He behaved well, even in the car when I unzipped the little zipper that conveniently allowed him to stick out his head and he got confused and forced his entire body out of the four-inch opening and I stuffed him back in with both hands while driving with my knee. Even then he behaved pretty well, considering. His eyes rolled back a little in his head, and I think I images (7)might’ve squished his larynx, but that was all.

When I got to the vet, he didn’t make a peep as we walked into the vet’s office. I set him down in his carrier, filled out paperwork, and waited. A few mangled growls came from the carrier, and when I checked inside through the cute little nylon-screened carrier-windows, his eyes had white showing all around the colored part, and he seemed to be panting a little more than usual, but that was all. After about fifteen minutes a nice young woman showed me where to take my kitty for the vet exam, then left. The cold, stainless steel counter didn’t look very comfortable to me, but by then my cat was yowling so I let him out. He tiptoed cautiously, his eyes very wide, and rolled himself into as little a ball as possible so he would not slip off.

The vet entered after ten minutes. Interestingly, I’d not seen one, single, other pet in the entire place and wondered why I’d been waiting nearly a half hour, but I told myself to be patient. I was actually quite pleased to be bringing the cat to the vet, proper taking care of my animal and all that, and quite looking forward to what the vet had to say.

images (6)She took exactly three minutes to examine my cat, told me he needed a dental cleaning (850) and at least one tooth pulled (450) and a blood test due to his advanced age (240), that upated annual shots and office visit would be (140) due and payable now, thanks. Then she smiled, and asked if I would like to schedule all of the above.

It took me a little while to comprehend her words, so I gazed at her face a few seconds with my mouth hanging open slightly, an unsuspecting victim of veterinarian sticker shock. My patience crumpled itself up and tossed itself into the trash, along with her pink plastic examination gloves. I looked down at my 11-pound, aging cat huddled on the slippery stainless steel. I composed myself, straightened up to my full height of 5′ – 5-1/2″ and told her, as politely as I could manage, to do the shots and I’d think about the rest. I wisely restrained myself from speaking my mind, which was screaming, if I remember correctly, “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKIN MIND!? WHEN DID PULLING AN ANIMAL’S TOOTH COST FIVE TIMES AS MUCH AS PULLING A HUMAN’S!? NO WAY AM I GONNA SCHEDULE MY CAT! I’LL SHOW YOU! I’LL FIND ANOTHER VET THAT’LL DO IT FOR HALF, OR WAIT, ONE-THIRD!”

I pasted a smile on my face as she gave my cat a couple of shots (about one minute), mumbled thanks, pushed my cat back in the carrier, zipped it up, paid the bill and fled.

The next day, I called several vets in the area, who all quoted me even higher prices. I felt so…so…helpless.imagesCANSXSCD

The whole experience has left me shaken. Obamacare may have further-reaching negative consequences than I thought. I wonder how many aging-cat-owners like me are experiencing veterinarian sticker shock, with the unhappy end result of setting the old critters free. In the wild, where they long to be. Outside in the fresh air with the – well, you know – the cars and everything.

If you happen to see a few more cases of cat-flattening than usual, I want you to know, it’s all Obama’s fault.

The Day Jack Slew The Really, Really Ugly and Disgusting Giant

imagesCAS52A5TI have never been a huge moviegoer, but the first time I was coaxed into attending a 3D IMAX event, I converted. If something has been appropriately blurred in order to appear 3D through cheesy glasses on a thousand-foot screen, I’m all in.

My husband is an even bigger IMAX fan than I am, so when he asked if I wanted to see the latest version of Jack and the Beanstalk (his favorite childhood story, he sheepishly admitted), in 3D at IMAX, I beamed a big “yes” at him.

So this past Sunday, with the holy afterglow of  church still fresh on my face, I happily skipped my Sunday afternoon nap and accompanied my husband to “Jack, the Giant Killer.”

I guess I should’ve figured by the title that the tale had been tampered with.

We drove to the nearest IMAX, found perfect seats and sat. I swiveled my head, brow furrowing as I noticed empty seats everywhere. I was relieved we wouldn’t have to fight hordes of people, but perplexed at the lack of viewing public. Was the movie not advertised enough? Had Jack and the Beanstalk fallen out of favor? Perhaps a lack of carnage was assumed, which the public might find less interesting. As I pondered these questions, the movie began and nearly blew me out of my seat.

I discovered right away that lack of carnage was NOT going to be a problem.

The 3D IMAX movies I have attended have been lovely and inspiring with a marked lack of gore and mayhem. The main characters in 3D appeared more beautiful, more lucid, almost touchable. The scenery was delightful; rich and lush. The action fluid and breathtaking. The illusion that I was part of the scene was entrancing. For instance, if a character leapt upon a tree limb and magically slid downimagesCAB9KK4L the tree, I felt exactly as if I were on his back, riding along with him. It was a magical way to pass a couple of hours.

Until, um, now.

Sunday afternoon I had a completely different 3D experience. Instead of the jovial and jolly green giant of Ho, Ho, Ho fame that I expected, to my horror, I found myself looking up the unsightly and hair-laden nostrils of the most hideous giant ever conceived. Then, in rapid succession, I was subjected to several close-ups of fellow giants that had  advanced cases of rotting teeth and gums, acne scars, and facial pores the size of Crater Lake. And let’s not forget the various and sundry other parts of the giant-human-anatomy, which obviously unhinged  giant-fabricators gleefully and with wild abandon threw on the screen in rapid succession.

Jack-the-Giant-Slayer_giantposter2AAbout five hundred times, a single giant foot, or in some cases many stampeding giant feet, filled the screen. These feet bore corns, bunions, scraggly, chewed-on toenails, scruffy hair, a year’s worth of grime, and Lord knows how they smelled, which was all I could think of. After all, who has the chance to observe, with painfully close scrutiny, someone’s idea of what a giant’s foot should look like in 3D? Which brings me to the next body part: shoulders. We (all fifteen of us, huddled together in an attempt to comfort  one another) were repeatedly accosted with someone’s really, really disgusting vision of a giant with two heads.  One was normal size (but horrifically ugly), centered appropriately between the shoulders, with slitted, mean, beady giant-eyes that sliced right and left; and the other IimagesCAAOUABM can only describe as an “afterthought head.” You know, the kind that grows spontaneously, a tragic mistake that takes on a life of its own. This head sprouted from the giant’s right shoulder and looked like a cross between Boris Karloff and Yoda. The afterthought head was smaller, slanted off the shoulder at an angle, and had its own randy little personality that said cute and lighthearted (but evil) things in an attempt, I suppose, to diffuse the ghastly. This might have worked if I could have overcome the hypnotic disgusting-ness of the effect, which I could not. So the little, tragic, slanted, bug-eyed head was not comic relief for me at all. I tried to laugh at it once or twice, but the laugh kind of melted into a grimace as the next giants, each more malformed, inappropriate, and grotesque than the last, appeared. If 3D one day gives us an option to also SMELL what is going on, I don’t think I’ll ever set foot in an IMAX again.

The last straw was the chef-giant that was tasked with baking a delicious meal (super-sized, of course) of pigs-in-a-blanket. However, one of them was imagesCACPVVZY(wait for it…) a MAN-in-a-blanket, and as the chef-giant was making the light and flaky crust to be used for the blanket part, he poked a thick, hairy, filthy finger into his nose, pulled it out and

Poor guy never knew he was to be Man-in-a-blanket.

Poor guy never knew he was to be Man-in-a-blanket.

plopped a gooey, long, string of you-know-what into the dough. This delightful scene, of course, was close-upped and dragged out for a minute or two and ended with a flourish of dripping, chef-giant fingers. I had to cover my eyes. Think about watching this in 3D, on an overly large screen. See? It’s awful to think about. You can stop thinking about it now.

Which brings me to my concluding thought.

I still have very real and lively visions of those giants, and I am trying to get them out of my mind, but it has been difficult. I know IMAX 3D is larger-than-life and with the experience – especially if it has not been a pleasant one – comes a larger-than-life residual.

Who knew? I thought all 3D stuff would be pleasant and magical.

Not at all.

In fact, I was a little traumatized throughout the movie. Didn’t I hear that “Titanic” was redone in 3D recently? And why, exactly, would I want to see drowning, dying, burning, stricken people huge and in 3D?imagesCA3Y524S

The same reason that people go to see disgusting and bizarre giants that eat men-in-a-blanket, I guess.

I am going to rethink the whole IMAX 3D entranced thing, while the wounds are still fresh.