Today we honor Martin Luther King – always, but especially today. So this is the perfect moment to arrive, in Bugs’s Excellent Adventure, at the point where Anita gets to realize just what the milk of human kindness really is about. (“Excellent Adventure,” 12/16; “Trust is For Saps,” 12/17; “Don’t Want Milk,” 1/3; “Dash of Tropics,” 1/9.)
Thanks to that milk, which friends and neighbors poured so lavishly on Team Bugs in time of dire need, Anita’s credo – of indifference and negation or worse – was sorely tried. In the end, was disproven. Cast down. Discredited. Was no longer tenable for Anita to persist in. (She persists anyway, but now at least she’s trying not to.)
Recall that Anita’s operating system had been “I’m no good, you’re no good, you were no good first.” (“Excellent Adventure,” 12/6; “Love for Other Species,” 12/30.) Below is an itemized list of the evidence proffered, on that dire day in November, that disproved Anita’s theory.
Not long after Bugs’s horrible little gray shoulders had shifted their horrible way out the door, neighbor Amanda overhears Anita crying. Amanda takes the cat-treats out of Anita’s inert hand. She, together with her little son, tramp the neighborhood calling for Bugs. Much later, after all the shouting is over and Bugs is safely back inside, here comes Amanda again. Why? To express joy. And to return the treats.
Anita, while still in the fugue of shock and grief following the horrible exit, still somehow manages to locate Kim’s phone number in Michigan. (“Synchronicity,” 12/3.) After all the shouting is over and Bugs is safely back inside, Anita realizes that Kim has left around five messages filled with numerous suggestions about what to do – some of them offered by Kim’s sister, whom Kim had called on Anita’s behalf.
Anita, while still in the fugue of shock and grief following the horrible exit, still somehow manages to locate Saint Teresa of Tellington’s phone number. (“Synchronicity,” 12/3; “Teresa,” 12/7.) Anita leaves an all-points-bulletin on Teresa’s machine. Teresa shows up, as Anita is lying on the ground outside the hole under the house. (“Dash of Tropics,” 1/9.) This is a Saturday, mind. Teresa works on Saturday. She has come straight from work.
She bears with her six different kinds of super-stinky cat-treats, which she has bought on the way. She will not take reimbursement for these treats.
At time of Teresa’s arrival, Anita has managed to reach down under the house and wedge both hands around Bugs’s horrible little gray butt. She has invincible leverage and the way should be clear to hauling the horrible little booger out. But Bugs is stone-like. Rooted. Wedged. Concretized. There is no conceivable way Anita can budge him, without breaking bones. Anita refrains from doing that, even though she is long past out of her wits.
Teresa abides with Team Bugs for as long as needed, for the 1.5 years it takes for Anita to remove her hands from Bugs’s horrible little butt and for Bugs to slither – one tiny, timid step by one tiny, timid step – out from underneath the house to where Anita can finally lay hands on him without breaking anything. Anita does not recall how long this process actually took. Continents drifted apart, stars died, galaxies collapsed.
Once Team Bugs was safely inside the house, Teresa lays hands on. Not on Bugs. On Anita. Anita’s having an out-of-body experience, not in a good way. Again Teresa will take no payment for this. She explains: It’s what friends do.