Tess Tales 6 — Dressing Up for the Vet

This is part of a series of true stories about my mother.

Mom, olderShe grew up in a different time. She didn’t have fabulous clothes or jewels but she wouldn’t consider going anywhere without combing her hair and putting on clean clothes. Time permitting there would be a bath too. Maybe lipstick.

That’s even to go to the grocery store to pick up something quick.

Or to drop off something at one of her sister’s homes.

Definitely for anything relating to church. What would those church ladies think?

While I like dressing up, I grew up in the turbulent sixties and was very fond of jeans and t-shirts, miniskirts, long hair and sandals. None of that was considered “dressed up” in our house — even if you added mascara or lipstick.

I lived at home when I first started working and most of our disagreements were along the lines of:

Mom: You’re not wearing that to work are you?

Me: Yes, what’s wrong with it?

Mom: I don’t think it covers your bottom. (This was before we called it “business.”)

Me: Sure it does. Everyone wears skirts like this.

Mom: (No words but searching for her rosary.)

It took quite a while to get my mother to wear pants instead of dresses and we never did get her in jeans.

One of my favorite memories is when we took my cat to the veterinarian. I don’t remember why and it doesn’t matter. Back then I didn’t have a carrier so Mom always came along and held the cat in the car.

Of course she changed into “good” clothes – a nice dress, good shoes and her new Misty Harbor raincoat. She looked at me in jeans and a sweatshirt and there was a major eye roll. You know the kind where you worry that the eyeball itself will pop out of the head and roll down the street. Sigh.

Off we went. My cat was normally well-behaved in the car but this time she must have gotten excited. She pooped on my Mother’s new raincoat.

Oh my! I don’t think I have ever heard those kind of words come out of her mouth before.

I don’t know if she was angry about the poop or the fact that I couldn’t stop laughing.

Big laughing sobs!

Tears running down the face laughter!

I had trouble breathing and my belly ached!

It took me a while until I could drive and every so often I would break out in laughter all over again.

She didn’t think it was funny. In fact, it was a long time before she laughed when I told the story.

I left her in the car at the vet’s. The good news is that the cat was fine and her raincoat was washable.

(Love ya Mom!)

24 thoughts on “Tess Tales 6 — Dressing Up for the Vet

  1. Totally get it; Mom would wear her rollers in her hair to town, take them out while sitting in the store parking lot, fluff her hair and apply her Avon lipstick and then – only then – would she go in and grocery shop!



    • OMG rollers! In my town women would go to the store in rollers with a scarf on their head but that was not allowed in my family. You had to wait until your hair dried before you could venture out in the public. I don’t know if I remember how to use rollers these days. Ouch!


  2. What a wonderful memory, Kate. How hilarious it must be to you even today. I really think your mother was something special. You’ve shared about her in ways that make her very “real” and authentic. It’s lovely that you’re sharing about her.


  3. Cats know and take their revenge.
    It was a different era – mirrors by the front door so you could check lipstick(always lipstick – no naked lips. Lipstick in “cupid bow” shape. always) and comb the hair one last time
    The eye rolls for me: “get the bangs out of your eyes” and “at least tuck in that shirt and put a belt on”
    Great post.


  4. I love this story! Why do I feel like the cat had good instincts? They love to get people to loosen up a little. My mom won’t walk from one room in the house to the other without checking her lipstick, and if a cat sat on her, let alone pooped, she would probably pass out.


  5. Oh, my! You made me laugh … almost in that uncontrollable, can’t-stop-no-matter-how-hard-I-try kind of way. Your story reminded me of my own vet slash animal poop story. I was maybe sixteen years old, and taking a litter of Pekingese puppies to the vet for their first shots. For those of you not familiar with the breed, they are about as big as a wet hamster when they are puppies. I had three of them in a box on the seat next to me, and I was driving my mother’s huge old Chevy Impala. It was a bit like driving a boat, only it was wider and heavier. The puppies were whining, and sounded so sad and forlorn. As I pulled up to a stop light, I picked up all three of them, snuggling them under my neck, trying to comfort them. Just about that time, I accidentally put my foot on the accelerator a moment too soon, and thumped into the car in front of me (it was some sort of tiny sedan, and the bumper had crumpled up in horror at the thought of that huge hulking machine ramming it from behind). Just as I was reaching for my license and registration, the puppies blasted me with scared puppy poop, and so there I was, covered in wet gooey puppy poo, as I stepped out of the vehicle to exchange information with the poor guy that I had just hit from behind. By the time the police arrived to make the accident report, I think the guy had finally stopped laughing. Maybe. Thankfully, he was so amused by my puppy poo predicament, he forgot to be angry about me smashing into his car. Of course, once the policeman got there, the laughter started all over again. So humiliating. It required therapy.

    In the Hallmark version of this story, I either end up marrying the policeman or the guy I ran into, and we have our own passel of puppies, but in reality, I got grounded for smashing my mother’s car (although that old boat never suffered a scratch … the car, I mean, of course … I would never refer to my mother as an old boat … at least, not in mixed company), and I ended up having to get a second summer job to pay for the damage to his car. In the Hallmark version, the puppy poo turns into magic glitter, but the truth is that I threw away the clothes I was wearing that day, convinced I would never get the smell out of them. In the Hallmark version, the puppy kisses cancelled out the humiliation of the puppy poo. Well, that part was almost how it happened.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I love those stories that make us laugh so hard it hurts.


    • That was a fabulous story worthy of a post by itself! I must admit I am a sucker for baby critters too. I used to have a cat that was a little testy. She would go to a beach house with me but in a carrier. She would howl. The first time I felt badly and let her out. Yikes! She perched on my shoulder and scratched the bejesus out of me while I was doing 70 on an interstate in New Jersey. That was the last time and there was no Hallmark version!


    • She could have gone in. It was hard poop and you could hardly see anything but to my mother, her coat was contaminated. That’s a lot like nuclear contamination. She could have taken the coat off but she just pretty out of sorts about the whole thing.


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