Petri Dishes: Cats in Lederhosen

Jul 28, 2020

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you are keeping well! Let’s converse!

Before we know it Halloween will be here. What are we going to do about that? The portents are good: there will be a full moon and it will be the creepy sounding Blue Moon, because it is the second one of the month. Masks! Very important. But what about visiting strangers' houses and being handed food? Not so cool. I propose the Halloween of the Tongs. Households agree to open bags of candy and dump them straight into clean bowls. When the little masked ones show up out come the tongs. Pluck candies from the bowl and drop into the mendicants' bags. Solution?

Hmm, the fact that Halloween is an event you see coming months in advance and are actively working on solutions for seems — I want to say, unpatriotic? Certainly anathema to our approach to every other foreseeable problem. 

Do you expect AG Barr will say something funny at his hearing today for you to use?

I am watching to find out! He has taken a sip of water but not in a noteworthy manner. 

I've decided to pronounce frozen and dozen the same way, but can't decide if I should go with the long O or short O. What do you think?

I’d go with the short O. Frozen is still intelligible, if less jolly, and dozen doesn’t sound like it’s asleep.

At the conclusion of each week's chat, just before skedaddling, you say "I will catch you on the blog and twitter until next week." Is this Chat supposedly the blog? If so, explain; if not, where is the blog?

The blog is what is linked to by the weekly link to “the blog”— that is to say, all my online writing for the Post! This linking, confusingly, does include the chat, but it also includes lots of other things! 

This will occur just days before what is likely the most important presidential election in American history. Glad someone has their priorities in order.

Look, two things can be simultaneously true! Important things and unimportant but enjoyable things can occur in the same week! If I thought OP was the nation’s foremost Election Preparedness Expert and was falling down on the job being distracted by Halloween, I would feel differently, but I don’t think that’s so. 

The clerk put thirteen bees in the bag. "But I only wanted a dozen", I said, and the clerk replied "That's a freebie."


I sometimes have fun conversations with them. Like the German lady who sang in a Gospel Choir and was waiting for a Marine Corps Band concert on the steps of the Capitol. Or the African American mom and her daughter from ultra rural Wisconsin who needed some Metro help and then an explanation on how to get same day tickets to the NMAAHC. Or the couple from Omaha who bought tickets to the Kansas City Ballet's Nutcracker in the Kennedy Center instead of in Kansas City by accident and decided to just take a trip to DC for the heck of it (told them not to miss the Archives and that the docent story about restoring the Wright brothers' plane at Air and Space wasn't to be missed and that they should go to the FDR memorial). Or just the family with young kids who were looking for a place to eat near the White House and the mom looked like I had handed her the moon when I told them that if they wanted to sit down and be served, that there was a TGI Fridays a few blocks up Pennsylvania Ave (this was a while ago). I actually miss them.

I think I remember your telling us about the couple who bought the wrong ticket and came to DC! I love that. But it could also be that I am experiencing a lot of deja vu lately. 

I'm shopping online for a cat stroller with two compartments (for two cats) that detach so I can put them in the car. I keep coming across pet strollers with a picture of them folded up in the back of a car. Why would I want to fold this stroller in the back of my car??? Where will the cats be at that point! (I want a stroller because the vet is within walking distance of our house, but sometimes it rains or snows.) I don't think these companies understand that cats are not dogs.

That sounds unhelpful! Yeah, how do they envision your getting the cats to sit calmly in the car for the ride? You need a container of some kind or they will invariably make a beeline (catline?) for the driver’s footwell and get tangled up in the pedals. 

You mistook that for sarcasm, but I wasn't being sarcastic. IMHO free candy is more important than free elections.

Oh no!

The chat is part of the blog, the column is part of the blog, but not everything is the blog? Are you trying teach us set theory or something?

Now I'm getting all sad at what Halloween look like. My kid will really be at a good age for participating for the first time (3) and turns out it may be a bummer of a year. :( Guess we will all just figure out the best way possible to make it fun within the constraints of the situation. I will manage to also vote in "what is likely the most important presidential election in American history," and care about both.

I am sure there will be lots of virtual costume parades! And we can look at the exciting moon! “Turns out it may be a bummer of a year” is 2020 in a gentle nutshell. 

The Asheville, NC, minor league baseball team is named the Tourists. (Sorry, Washington Football Team, that name has been taken). Of course, they aren't playing this season, so you wouldn't see them there either.

There are those who would suspect the Free Candy Advocate is a representative of the Dental Lobby. "Here kid, have some more sticky toffee, it won't pull your fillings out or ruin your braces. And sugar hardens your tooth enamel. Saw it on the Internet."

Toffee! The dental lobby is working extra hard to lure people to in-person dental appointments this year!

There are Cat Bags that let you carry the cat, keeping their legs in the bag but leaving their heads free. Then you lift them, still in their bags, to sit on the passenger seat next to you. For walking to the vet, you can put them in a wagon.

All I'm picturing is a couple cats in top hats swinging their canes as they stroll down the street.

I am happier for having pictured this. 

Serious question, Who decides when a word like "their" is now acceptable (preferable?) when referring to an antecedent like "someone"? I'm old enough to recall when we grumbled because the my office style manual mandated his/her when the gender of "someone" wasn't clear.

In this case, Post Style Guide! I think it’s a definite upgrade from his/her— fewer letters, already an established usage, now one we need not feel grammatically embarrassed by! 

Ah, the joys of the American English language. Dozen doesn't rhyme with Frozen, but it does with Cousin. Frozen rhymes with Chosen and also Lederhosen, which ironically can keep your lower legs from being frozen.

Can they? Why did I think lederhosen were leather short-overalls? 

It might not be so bad for the kid. I'm guessing the three year old probably doesn't remember last Halloween so he/she won't be upset about missing it. But the kids who do remember, it will be terrible. As a kid I used to have nightmares that Halloween was canceled or that I missed it somehow.

Hi! I love your columns and this chat. I read it live (almost) every week. I have been wanting to post this since the discussion a few weeks back about fortune cookies. I don't know if you remember the cartoon "Rocko's Modern Life" from Nickelodeon. My kids watched it obsessively and it has given us an in-joke that we still use: The gang was eating Chinese food and reading their fortunes. Most were the usual thing, but the turtle (Philbert I think) got one that read Bad luck an misfortune will haunt your pathetic soul for all eternity. He opened another cookie, with the same fortune He went all over town buying Chinese food for the fortune cookies. I think he ended up going to the factory in China that makes all the fortune cookies, or something like that. It was an absurdist cartoon, which was probably why my kids liked it. Anyway, thought you might like to know that some fortune cookies are negative!

I never watched Rocko’s Modern Life, but now I am regretting that omission! Did he resolve it at the factory?

I know plenty of people who treat the trunk of their car as another closet. Maybe they are trying to show you where to store this thing when you aren't using it.

If you love your cat you won't torture him/her with these contraptions , which they will undoubtedly hate more than anything.

Are you team “a simple cat carrier is best” or do you have a docile cat who will settle calmly on the passenger seat or perch on your shoulder?

You are correct as lederhosen do not cover the legs. They stop above the knee - higher for sexier lederhosen like what was worn by Jamie Lee Curtis on the train in Trading Places.

My dentist's office sent me a much-delayed reminder that I'm past due for a visit. Does this mean they think it's safe now? Do I think it's safe enough and important enough to go now rather than later? I could call them and grill them about their precautions, I suppose. But also at my last visit (before the pandemic), they said my teeth were in good shape and they didn't really have much if any plaque to remove. Also, why am I asking you? Why not, I say.

I have had the same thing happen! I gently postponed mine. 

Why would you take a cat for a walk in a stroller when you could just have a dog? Is this canine envy?

I'm on team "Leave the Cat Home Where He/She/They are Happier." They don't want to come with you on the car trip. They just don't. And if you're going to the vet a soft-sided carrier is fine.

There are probably Halloween lederhosen costumes for cats.

Happy, dignified-looking cats!

I don't think so. I seem to remember that he yelled at the manager of the factory, who had no clue. The very end was one employee writing the Bad luck and misfortune... fortune. Although I could be remembering incorrectly.

Oh please seek out Rocko's Modern Life. It taught my children a droll sense of humor, and the jazz score wasn't bad either.

What, you don't put them in a carrier box and strap it to the roof of the car?

Wow, that takes me back! 

I think the OP was thinking of pantyhosen.

Definitely not a sequel to the film, Cats. (P.S. I much preferred the earlier image of very dignified Strolling Cats, with canes, top hats, spats, etc.)

The thought of strolling cats with top hats and canes will delight me for the rest of the day, so thank you for that.

I agree! As I lurch lunchward and continue watching the hearing, this will bring me joy. 

Not necessarily. There was an episode of Bob's Burgers in which the dentist, Dr. Yap, spent Halloween night stealing the kids' candy, because he wanted to go skiing instead of spending all of his time filling cavities. (The kids foiled his dastardly plan, however!)

While you were at Harvard College, did you take any classes with Rebecca Bunch? Years ago I read a crime novel, The Blunderer by Patricia Highsmith, in which the detective was a Philadelphia police lieutenant. When I asked my grandfather, who had served on the Philly force for 36 years, whether he'd ever met the guy, he said yes.

Oh yeah, she was very excited to be there, but not as excited, she said, as she would be to *have been* there. We both took Intro To Bringing Up Your Alma Mater As Organically As Possible. 

The only appropriate response to seeing cats with top hats and canes is: "Humph, look at those fat cats!"

Better make show they are washable. Putting my cat into a carrier caused a certain sphincter to open usually.

Oh no! I was going to end on this note — have a great day, all, enjoy your week, and see you on the Blog and Twitter in the interim — but now I am not so sure! 

Your postponing your dentist visit must be why I was able to get in for my overdue cleaning in three days "sure, we can see you this Friday... is 8:30 OK?". They told me to wait in the car until they were ready for me, took my temperature at the door, escorted me back to the chair, and everyone was wearing masks and shields and gloves and such. They posted a sign saying they charge $15 extra due to extra PPE; however, they did not collect it from me, instead adding it to to the insurance bill, reduced to $10. I doubt insurance will cover it, though. We'll see. My teeth are clean, and I'm still healthy.

Congratulations on both those outcomes! And, I guess, you’re welcome! 

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Alexandra Petri
Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences." She joined The Post as an intern in 2010, after graduating from Harvard College.
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