So last night, our doorbell rang and my sister Susie went to answer it. There were two little girls outside, maybe eight or nine, and one of them was wearing a light on her head. You know, kind of like the surgeons put on when they're going in to do open heart surgery, or maybe like you wear at night when you go camping, but only if you're the sort of person who owns a clip-on tie and several Celine Dion CDs and maybe also has NEW POCKET PROTRACTOR! written at the top of your Christmas list. Added in September and underlined twice.
"Hello," said Light Girl. "Do you have any empty plastic bottles?"
Very politely, and as if she were asked this sort of thing every day by a child with a light on her head, Susie said, "You know, actually I'm not sure. Let me just go and have a look."
And she went to the kitchen, had a cursory look for empty plastic bottles that we might be willing to donate, apparently, to The Charity For Little Girls Who Have To Wear Lights On Their Heads, and then reappeared with a convincingly rueful expression on her face. "I'm sorry," she said. "I've had a look. But I'm afraid we don't."
"Oh," said the little girl, shrugging. "Whatever. Well, what's your cat's name?"
"Um," said Susie. "Actually, we have two."
"The small black one," said the girl. "The kitten. I've seen her around. What's her name?"
"Well," said Susie, making Mad Crazy Rescue Me! Gestures™ behind her back at me, where I was sitting on the floor sorting through photographs of myself in the 1990s and wondering if I'd ever actually had any friends during that point in my life and, if so, whether they'd been able to see past the fact that I tucked my sweatpants into my Doc Marten boots and wore my father's large plaid shirts and even, upon one occasion, saw fit to accessorize with a gold medallion.
I got up and went over. "Hi! Uh...whoa" I said, trying to turn my look of surprise upon spotting a girl with a light on her head into a slight facial tic because, really, that would be less embarrassing, though why I was trying to appear less embarrassing in front of a nine-year-old girl who was wearing a light on her head was, frankly, beyond my imagination. "So you were asking about our black cat? Her name is Daisy."
"Hmm," said the girl, looking at her friend and then back at me. "Well, can we trap her?"
"Can you what?" I asked.
"Next time we see her," said Light Girl. "Can we trap her?"
"You want to trap our cat?" I asked. "Trap her? Does this have something to do with the plastic bottles you need?"
"No!" said the girl, making a motion with her hand, which appeared to the naked eye to be the world's most apathetic dribbling of the world's most miniscule basketball. "Tap her! Not trap her! Can we tap her? Like this?"
"Tap her? You mean, like, stroke her?" I said, stroking an imaginary cat, and instinctively picturing myself with a monocle. And a claw hand. And a large leather recliner. And plans of world domination, which I would hatch at my large imposing desk with said cat on my lap and some sort of laser-powered telephone. "Stroke her, you mean?"
"Yes," said the girl, and nodded at her friend for confirmation. "Stroke her, tap her, whatever. So can we? When we see her?"
"Uh, sure," I said, inching the door closed, suddenly speaking louder than neccessary in order to muffle the giggles escaping from Susie's mouth, as this child with a light on her forehead and her silent companion moved on to the next house to start their Search For Plastic Bottles/Stalking Of The Neighborhood Cats all over again."Yes! Come by anytime!" I called after her. "Tap her! Tap them both! TAP MY CATS!"
And then Susie and I collapsed on the floor in hysterics, shouting "CAN WE TRAP YOUR CAT? CAN WE TAP YOUR CAT?" and re-enacting the light-on-the-head with our balled up fists. And it was all very funny and hilarious until I went back to my photograph sorting and came to the horrible, blood-curdling, spine-tingling revelation that yes, sure, the bizarre little girl with the light on her head might have been supremely weird and nerdy, but dude. I mean JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH. At least she never looked like this:
Honestly, do I even have any right to laugh at little girls with lights on their heads? It's like my whole adolescence was one big costume party and I went as Kevin Federline.