When I lived with my friend Dennis many years ago and our apartment consisted of a foam chair, a table hockey board and a Britney Spears poster Dennis “ironically” cut out of the Toronto Star, we had a variety of characters and scenarios we created in order to stave off boredom. One of these involved an Australian true-crime show where a sheep was condemned and hanged. (“The public felt the sentence was tough, but fair.”) Another was a character called “The Bad Father”, which was basically Tom Waits ordering his son to get him another can of Michelob, only to become enraged when he returns with a warm one. Trust me, this stuff was hilarious. Really.
Anyway, these days I am feeling a bit like a bad father, if not our mythical “Bad Father”. I took my cat Edison in to the vet last week out of concern for a cut paw, only to instead be told that he has a cavity and needs a tooth removed. “That’ll run you from between $800 and a grand”, the vet blithely mentioned, as if she was guessing how much he weighed. “You need to do it soon, too, because that’s quite painful for him.”
Now, Edison is an expressive cat. Like his owner, he’s blonde, occasionally charming and generally won’t shut up. Yet at no point has he given me any indication that he’s in any kind of mouth pain, unless he’s actually been saying “Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.” for three years. And so, like a bad father, I find myself questioning whether to pay for this operation that would be in my pet’s best interest. I find myself saying, “Well, what would I get out of it? I’d still have the same cat. And I certainly won’t feel any better as a thousand dollars vanishes from my bank account.”
It’s particularly galling because I have been paying for pet insurance for three years which has yet to actually cover anything. I’ve actually spent more than the cost of having his tooth removed on do-nothing insurance. I’m starting to subscribe to Ned Flanders’ belief that insurance is a form of gambling. In this case, I’ve gambled on caring – and lost.
Or have I? I definitely plan to get a second opinion. Or maybe look for one somewhere less tony than the Annex – a farm vet somewhere near 6th Line Cross Road, wherever that may be. I’m also toying with finding some shabby clothes, pouring water on Edison to look like Cat at the end of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and doing my best Dickensian street urchin impression: “Please sir, e’s the only breadwinner in the family ever since I lost me job as a bootblack. E’s ever so nice, sir, look at ‘im.”
Ultimately, I’m sure I will give in, do the right thing, and get his hurty tooth pulled. It will be expensive, and I don’t expect a sudden windfall to make up for it. At least not in cash, anyway. Right now, I’m hoping to offset it by winning whatever contests I can find online. An HDTV, or a year’s worth of steak, or a fabulous weekend getaway to scenic Mobile, Alabama would make up for it, I’m sure.