It started out as a pretty typical morning. I was lying on my back and my cat Ranger was on my chest. Ranger sleeps with me most nights but he’s never actually slept on me that I can recall. He seemed content, purring away with his eyes slightly shut.
Ranger is a butterscotch tabby that I picked up for free from the hardware store a few years ago. They usually don’t stock cats of course, but one of the employees was trying to get rid of a litter. I didn’t consider myself a cat person at the time, but Ranger was so cute I couldn’t resist. So, taking a chance that I might turn into a creepy single guy with a cat, I took the plunge and walked out of the store with a kitten.
Ranger looks like that cat Morris who used to do those cat food commercials in the ’80s. I preferred pet commercials back then when they shot them with old-fashioned trained animals. These days they do a little too much CGI and make cats smile and what not. It’s a little creepy.
Anywho, it was a nice way to wake up, having Ranger purring there on my chest. I skritched his head and said, “Well, good morning, ’Ger. What’s happening, buddy?”
He opened his eyes and said, “S'il vous plaît ne m'appelez pas ’Ger.”
My eyes opened wide and I sat straight up, sending Ranger flying off my chest and the edge of the bed. I think I heard his head hit the wall.
“What in the hell just happened?” I asked nobody in particular – definitely not my cat who did not just talk to me.
“He said don’t call him ’Ger,” said June Bug. “He prefers it when you use his full name.” June Bug is my puggle who sleeps in a crate in the corner of my room.
I inherited June Bug about a year ago. She used to live with the old lady in the townhouse next to mine. When the old lady passed away, I heard she had no close family or friends and her dog was probably going to end up at the pound. I don’t know if it’s all those damn Sarah McLachlan commercials or if I was just feeling generous that day, but I offered to take her dog. Before June Bug, I’d never even heard of a puggle (half pug, half beagle), but I always thought she was cute. But I digress…back to the little detail of her, you know, actually speaking to me with her puggle mouth.
“What?!” I shouted at June Bug.
“I said, he doesn’t want you to call him ’Ger. He thinks it’s stupid,” she said. “Besides, his name is pronounced Rain-Jer. Shouldn’t you call him ’Jer instead of ’Ger?”
“Yeah, I guess. I never thought of that,” I muttered. I shook my head and rubbed my eyes. “What in the hell is going on?” I asked the ceiling. “I’ve finally gone nuts. My pets are talking.” The ceiling didn’t have a good answer.
“Oh, yeah. That,” June Bug said from behind the door of her crate. “Listen, I’ll explain everything in a minute, but can you let me out of here? I’ve been waiting for you to wake up since dawn and I need to take a massive dump.”
Ignoring June Bug, I paced around the room. My heart was racing and I was definitely freaking out. Ranger sat in the corner, licking his left paw, oblivious to my nervous breakdown.
“I gotta call somebody. This has to some kind of episode. Should I call the hospital? Poison control?”
“Phil,” June Bug said.
“Maybe some bad drugs. Jesus, did somebody slip me something at work yesterday?”
“Come to think of it, that Coke I had during lunch yesterday tasted kind of funny. Oh, man. This is not good.”
“Phil!” June Bug shouted.
“Seriously, man. I’m starting to crown over here.”
“Oh, right.” I slowly walked to the crate. My hand paused over the door latch. “You’re not, like, self-aware or anything, are you?”
“I’m not a robot, Phil. I can’t even reach the doorknob to the front door. How much damage do you think I’m capable of?”
“Sorry.” I opened the latch on the crate door. June Bug ran downstairs.
Ranger slowly followed. “Excusez-moi,” he said as he passed.
“Uh, yeah,” was all I had.
We all headed downstairs and I opened the back door so June Bug could do her business.
Ranger asked me, “Que diriez-vous de déjeuner?”
“Um, I don’t understand.”
“He said he wants breakfast,” said June Bug as she trotted back into the kitchen. “Sounds pretty good if you ask me.”
“Wait a minute. You understand him? What is that, French? Why is he speaking French?”
“He’s a cat,” June Bug said. “Why wouldn’t he speak French?”
“That doesn’t even make sense!”
“Idiots d’humains!” Ranger said in an exasperated tone. He walked over to his empty food dish and gave me the stink eye.
“Hey, take it easy on him,” June Bug snapped. “This is all new to him, remember? Besides, didn’t I see you freak out over a pencil on the floor the other day? Now, if you want to start calling people stupid…”
“Guys!” I shouted. “Please! Can one of you just please tell me exactly what in the hell is going on?” Ranger opened his mouth and I added, “In English, please?”
“Well,” June Bug said, “for one thing, you’re not going nuts and nobody slipped you a mickey. Ranger and I are definitely talking. We’ve always been able to. Today is the day we’re allowed to.”
“Amazing. And what about him?” I pointed out the window to a squirrel running up the tree in the back yard.
“Well, now you’re just being silly,” June Bug said. “Of course squirrels can’t talk. Say, speaking of breakfast, it is getting late. If you don’t mind me talking with my mouth full…”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “Sorry.” I pulled out the bags of food and filled each bowl.
They dug into their breakfasts and I started to pace around the kitchen as my excitement grew. “This is amazing,” I said again. “Do you know what this means? I’ve got a talking dog and a cat. Do you realize how famous I’m going to be?”
I paused in mid-pace. “Wait, you guys aren’t going to pull that crap, like in the cartoons where I take you to a casting agent and you don’t talk in front of other people, are you?”
“Bon, tu lui expliques ou quoi?” Ranger asked June Bug between bites.
“Yeah, I suppose I should,” she said. “Don’t worry, I’ll try to let him down easy.” June Bug, being a typical dog, had finished her meal in under a minute.
“Phil, have a seat. We need to talk.”
“What is it?” I was starting to get a bad feeling.
June Bug nodded toward the empty chair next to mine. “Do you mind?”
“Oh, uh, yeah. Of course. Have a seat, J.B.”
“Thanks.” June Bug hopped up and sat down in the chair. “Hmmm, not too bad,” she mused as she looked around the room. “I could get used to this.”
Ranger looked up from his bowl and rolled his eyes. Something I would never think was possible until about twenty minutes ago. “J’y crois pas,” he commented in a sarcastic tone and went back to eating.
“Sorry,” June Bug muttered. “Anyway, here’s the thing – don’t bother calling anybody or making a big deal out of this, okay?”
“What do you mean?” I sputtered. “You can’t possibly expect me to…”
“Phil,” June Bug interrupted. “Didn’t you hear me before? I said today is the day we’re allowed to talk. I’m not talking about just me and ’Ger, here.”
“Qu'est-ce que j’ai dit!?”
“Sorry. Ran-Jer.” June Bug cleared her throat. Again, not something I’d ever…well, you get the idea. “Right about now, every pet owner in town is having a similar conversation with their dog or cat. Well, actually all over the world.”
“But why now?” I asked. “What’s so special about today?”
“You know what the date is, right?”
“Yeah, it’s Friday. So what?”
“No. Date, genius,” June Bug snapped. “It’s the twenty-first. You know, 12-21-2012? The nut jobs got the date right but today isn’t the end of the world. It’s the day we go home. We’re leaving.”
Leaving where you ask??? Click here to find out.