Big Cats in the Nuclear Age

There was this huge party going on at my old junior high school, Arroyo Seco in Saugus. Being on these school grounds again was horrifying to me because this had been where the worst years of my life had been spent. Like a lot of pubescent girls in 1989, I had oily, acne-riddled skin, a weighed-down, frizzy perm, and a penchant for hideously bright sweatshirts with bizarre characters painted on them. For example, I had a turquoise sweatshirt on which tubs of popcorn had faces, arms, and legs with which they gesticulated and danced. Another example: a white tee-shirt on which two potato heads were playing volleyball. This charming print was underlined with the words, "Squash Potatoes," and the Hawaiian shorts the potatoes wore also came in a perfect size for me to wear with the shirt. So, suffice to say, on an hourly basis, I was ridiculed during these impressionable years.

Old memories aside, I decided to attend this party so I could booze it up in the old food lines where I would patiently wait to buy a plastic-wrapped chimichanga or a boat of limp french fries. A DJ had set up and a full bar replaced the old frozen yogurt booth. Since I miserably detested junior high as stated above I was ready to leave within minutes. I headed for the exit by the principal's office and I noticed a huge, clunky machine standing six foot high in the middle of the lunch area.

Somewhat robotic looking and very ominous, a futuristic contraption appeared out of nowhere. Curious onlookers touched and caressed the metallic, cylindrical body on which two red, uplifted arms were attached. At the end of the arms were heavy iron claws that resembled pinchers. I was no science whiz, but I suspected that this machine was not in a very safe position sitting among a large drunken crowd dancing to bad techno.

I decided that action needed to be taken in order to protect the crowd and to preserve the integrity of science. I grabbed a margarita in a plastic tumbler, started sipping, and walked up to the machine in an authoritative manner.

"So, you like the machine, do you?" I asked the ogling crowd that remained transfixed. "Yup, she's a doozie, all right," I said, taking it slowly. "And she's quite powerful too."

Waiting for the crowd to bombard me with junior high ridicule, I sucked down the rest of my drink.

"You know what this thing is?" asked a skeptic who was playing with his greasy mustache.

"Yes," I replied. "This is a nuclear energy conversion robot. This machine feeds off of the energy of large crowds and converts it to nuclear energy. The longer and harder you dance, the more energy the robot absorbs, and when it has enough energy, it too will start to dance." I blared this, talking out of my ass.

"It's quite new in the field. In fact, this is its first public appearance."

As I talked, more people flocked to the machine. Some were simply listening while others touched and scrutinized the "robot." Electric blue bolts of electricity began spewing from the machine to create an umbrella-shaped grouping of lightening. Once the crowd saw this, they went nuts, thinking this machine was a party accessory that provided trippy lighting effects. I tried to tell them not to touch the machine, not to go under the electric umbrella, but it was all in vain. Nobody listened and soon, dozens of people were raving out under the increasingly growing umbrella as if it were pouring electric rain. I saw a few people get zapped by strikes of the blue lightening and that was when I decided to leave the party. I didn't want anybody thinking that I had lured these drugged-out partygoers to loom under a shroud of electrical death. Since I didn't want to be there anyway, I was glad to leave.

On my way out, I noticed a dimly lit stairway that led to an open door from which lounge music was playing. I went upstairs to check it out, so as not to waste the whole evening. I found a group of people who looked like they belonged in a Quentin Tarantino film. In the close quarters of what seemed to be an apartment, a group of these hipsters sat around on faux fur couches and inflatable chairs, smoking cigarettes and listening to music. The television was on the animal channel, but it was unfortunately muted.

At first glance, these people seemed ultra-cool, but once I saw them up close, I recognized their trashiness. Rotten teeth, hay for hair, bizarre odors, and stares of utter stupor moved past me as I continued walking through the apartment. Upon entering another sitting room, I saw multitudes of wild cats seated next to their human companions. There were lynx, cougars, leopards, and tigers, all regally sitting on the carpet. The cats lounged around and play-fought with each other, and some were even transfixed by the television.

I sat down next to the cougar, since he seemed less likely to claw me, and nervously, my eyes took in the creature's five foot long body covered in smooth, sand-colored fur. The agile, sculpted muscles of its legs tensed and tapered into elegant paws capped off by thick, beige claws. I became bold and started petting the cougar's back, an act at which the cat turned its aqua eyes toward me in an annoyed manner. For reasons unknown to me, I kept tapping and petting the animal, until it started to tap back, grazing my arm with its claws. The cougar only wanted to play, but I was in no position to play-fight once I regained my senses and realized that this cat could pulverize me with its paws if it so desired, so I just sat in the easy chair and listened to the hipsters bull shit for a couple hours while staring at wild cats goring water buffalo on the animal channel.

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