The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

To begin, know that for reasons too tiresome to recount here, I started the morning with trauma involving a cat.  This occasioned me standing in front of my bathroom mirror and observing all the various places I was bleeding from the head.

My first thought was not “let’s get out the hydrogen peroxide.”

It was, “I really need to get a picture of this for the blog.”

You’ll note there is no picture accompanying this entry. That is because what I did after that was smack the crap out of myself for losing grip with reality. And then I got out the hydrogen peroxide.

Now let us never speak of this again.

29 Comments on “The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem”

  1. I expect you’ll speak of it fairly often, because I cannot imagine what you were trying to do with the cat that got your head within reach. Some sort of totem pole, perhaps? A gooshyfood toupee? Oh, you tried to headbutt Zeus, didn’t you. Don’t headbutt Zeus.

  2. Hmm… Boxhab for the cat, bloghab for the man… Sounds like a happy family! :)

  3. Did you try and give him a pill? As Terry Pratchett once said:

    “Every procedure for getting a cat to take a pill works fine – once. Like the Borg, they learn…”

  4. Ian – Dallas, Texas – I'm a freelance writer and editor in Dallas, Texas. I focus my writing mainly on speculative fiction, but I edit just about anything. You can find my CV at

    John Scalzi 2007: Award winning novelist
    John Scalzi 2008: Headbutter of cats

    For shame. For shame.

  5. Trust me, none of you will possibly imagine the particular circumstances. But just to head off such implications at the pass, no, it did not involve anything unseemly.

  6. I take it the whole getting Zeus down from high places isn’t going well… or did you bend down to get a coke out the fridge and then Meow-Cannon you’ve got a kitty on your head?

  7. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang at the gates!

    Oh, man. A man after my own heart. “Why can’t I record every sound and image in life?”

    Was it Zeus, Arglebargle or Lopsided involved in Catastrophe 2008?

    I’m ready for the story when you are.

  8. My money’s on the “Walked too close to high-altitude cat ready to become low-altitude cat.” But my backup bet is on wearing-cat-as-silly-wig. And I’m not guessing which cat.

  9. Bob Portnell – Sparks, NV USA – In no particular order: Husband, parent, child of God, technical writer, stargazer, gamer, and in no particular order.
    Bob Portnell

    My expected solution involves Zeus cat sleeping near the Scalzi skull and then using it as a launch pad when startled by a half-waking-up human.

  10. You’re right. “I really need to get a picture of this for the blog” should not be your first thought.

    It should, however, be your second thought. Followed by action.

  11. The Whatever: A Blog, but Bleedier!

    (BTW: What’s the over-under on “Applied ointment to infected post-operative cat scrotum”? Anybody?)

  12. Remember, “red is green.”

    Bacon works for scratches. No, wait, I think that’s splinters. Do you have any splinters? Splinters work for scratches. No, wait . . . oh carp! No, wait . . . ahhh, forget it.

  13. To taunt us with a photo that never (will) exist is sheer cruelty.

    I DEMAND that you re-create the situation and injuries and take a photo for posterity.

    LOLScalzis will come rolling in.

  14. On a serious note – did any of the bleeding come from bites or were they all scratches? If a cat bite breaks the skin, it’s important to get treatment. Cats have very filthy mouths. You can end up with one of those “if we can’t kill the infection, we’ll need to amputate to save your life” infections. That wouldn’t do if it meant amputating your head.

  15. Did you try to get him to drink the cherry chocolate Dr Pepper?
    Since we have been cheated out of the picture, we must have a detailed description. Don’t be bashful.

  16. John won’t tell his story, but I can tell mine.

    Background: We moved into our present house in 1985. At the end of the block is the property for the Thunderbird Academy of International Management, a fairly prestigious private business college. Their property is close to a quarter square-mile in area, only about half of which was developed. Every year, back then, the undeveloped property would be used as the site for the Glendale Hot Air Balloon Festival, held over several days in November.

    So, I wake up early on a Sunday morning in November, wander out the front door, and WOW! The sky is filled with dozens of hot air balloons, in all shapes and colors, and since they’re launching from just up the block, they’re not way up in the sky, they’re close, less than a hundred feet up for some of them, close enough to hear the roar from their burners.

    “WOW! NEATO!” I exclaim. “I need to show this to someone!”

    But everyone else is still sound asleep. And by the time I get any of them up and out the door, the best of the show will be over.

    It’s at this point that I earn an Honorable Mention in the Darwin Awards:

    “I know! I’ll show the cats!”

    I go back in the house, spy Sir Kay, our big brown tiger-stripe, pick him up and carry him out to the front yard.

    Where he sees…

    …these things. These HUGE things. Hanging IN THE AIR. DOZENS of them. And they’re all HISSING at him:

    Ssssssssss! Sssssssssss! Ssssssssssssss!

    Sir Kay claws himself out of my arms, up my chest, shoulders and neck to the top of my head, does two or three spins there looking for someplace safe, then uses my head as the launch pad for a spectacular leap of about twenty feet from my head back to the front door, which he flattens himself against like a wide-eyed giant furry Band-Aid* until I let him back in.

    (*For some reason, “Band-Aid” seemed like an appropriate simile at the time.)

  17. Back in 1985, my (then new) wife and I kept my in-laws’ Persian bitch cat while they went out of town. In the middle of the night, I awoke suddenly, screaming because in my dream I’d been hit by a train. When I turned the light on, we discovered that my face was bleeding. Turns out, the cat had tried to walk across the window sill above the bed, and had fallen onto my face, claws first. Amazing how the subconscious merged a real-life incident into my dream.

  18. #23, it sounds like something richly deserved. The Executive Committee of The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club would like to inform you that the term for a female adult cat is “queen”.

    Only dogs, horrid creatures that they are, could be called “bitch”.

    The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club

  19. At least one creature in the household considers being attached to bacon undignified, eh? Out of curiosity, was Zeus protecting himself or stepping up to defend the honor of one of the other cats?

    “I say, good sir! What are you doing to Miss Ghlaghghee? Claws and teeth at dawn then, sir, if you have any semblance of breeding and honor to fall back upon! My word!”

  20. Oh noes! Please tell me that you did not try to explain to Zeus how the planned sterilization was in his own best interest…

    Or was today the (scheduled) Day of Testicle Reckoning?

    If the circumstances are likely to repeat, I will cheerfully forego the opportunity to view the photographic damage report in exchange for imparting two words my friends keep throwing at me (even though I haven’t, er, acted on their sage council):

    Bicycle. Helmet.

    Be well again soon,

  21. I can easily imagine many (non-naughty scenarios) that involve one’s head being scratched by a cat.

    Mine involved my husband sneezing while a cat was sleeping on my chest. She freaked out and had to escape–by running across my face and head.

    Stupid cat.

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