Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Chuck Invades Space Capsule at Smithsonian

One of the iconic sights of Washington, D.C.

I always blog about how Chuck is such a rascal and our trip to Washington, D.C. a while back was a perfect example of Chuck the rascal cat in action.  We arrived by train from New Jersey, and Chuck immediately meowed that he wanted to go to the Smithsonian Institute to see the space capsule.  You know,  the one that landed on the moon.  This was supposedly a secret wish he’d had ever since he’d been a kitten and saw some program on TV about the capsule.
Go figure!
So off we went on a beautiful February day, a Friday, to be exact, in the later afternoon, when luckily the tourist traffic was at a minimum.  Which was a critically important point because frankly, cats are not allowed inside the Smithsonian Museum, and it would take quite a bit of fancy maneuvering to get Chuck out of my backpack without being seen so he could sniff around the capsule and get an eyeful to his heart’s content if even a few people were milling about.
When we arrived at the Smithsonian, we made a beeline for the capsule which was on the first floor, but unfortunately, it was right in the middle of everything, in clear view of about four guides who manned the front desk.  We strategized.  Bob volunteered to go to the desk and act as a distraction while I wandered innocently over to the capsule.  My plan was simple.  I would stand on the back side of the capsule, wait until I was relatively alone, and then let Chuck sneak out and get a peak of the capsule.

Just one of the many vintage planes hanging from the ceiling
Of course, complications arose immediately because Chuck let it be known that he didn’t just want to see the capsule, he wanted to climb inside of it and pretend he was an astronaut flying in space.  The first cat astronaut, which would make Chuck a “castronaut.”   New word, new concept.

Chuck was hung up on the space capsule; I was also interested in the space suit!
More complications.  Oh, yes, we got Chuck inside the capsule.  Don’t ask me how many laws I broke to do that, but . . . we discovered almost immediately that Chuck was claustrophobic.  That capsule is tiny inside.  I mean really tiny.  It is hard to imagine how a human man fit inside there.  And Chuck, well, we call him Chucky Cheese behind his back.
He used to be a cute, adorable kitten.  Now he’s a cute, adorable fat cat.
But, still, Chuck is tough.  He insisted on rolling around inside the capsule as if he was weightless, which he is not!

This is where Chuck wanted to be!
Some imagination that cat has!
Then catastrophe struck.  I was standing there, my eyes glued to the interior of the capsule watching Chuck roll around when I heard, “Psst.” I whirled around in time to see Bob signaling towards a guide who was walking towards us.  With a frown on his face.  Trouble.
At the same time, I could hear Chuck “meowing” from inside, totally lost in the moment, enjoying his fantasy inside the capsule.
I knocked furiously on the capsule window.  “Niksay.  Niksay,” which was our code word for “Cease and Desist.”
Immediately the meowing stopped, and for one tense moment my life flashed before my eyes. What would happen if Chuck was caught inside the capsule? Would he be arrested? Put on trial? Taken away, never to be seen again? I tried to imagine life without Chuck.
But then what I would call a miracle happened.
Guide #1 who was hell bent and coming our way was intercepted.  By another guide.  There was a problem with the lunar module display case and now Guide #1 had to go and check it out.  
I whisked around, opened the capsule, pulled out Chuck and shoved the startled “castronaut” into my backpack.

The cool space vehicle is also part of the exhibit!

The next day we returned to the Smithsonian Institute, but we’d decided it was best that Chuck remain at the hotel.  We ordered in breakfast.  There was a balcony.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  Chuck was resting comfortably.  Dreaming, no doubt, of becoming famous.
Chuck Glenn.  Or  Chuck Armstrong.  Or Chuck Lovell . . .


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