Otay-A-Raang a 3 and a 4
The beginning of our life in Monatana was me passed out on a tiny karaoke stage at the neighborhood bar. Otay was on his hind legs, teethe barred, balanced on my shoulder defending himself from a barkeep who was swatting him with a broom.
She had never heard of a pet rat.
Folks would come try to get me up and back on a barstool and he would defend me too.
That night was the horribly predictable result of me rewarding myself for being sober 12 hours. The next weeks in Montana Otay slept tucked tight in my sportsbra, safe as I marathon jumped on and off the wagon.
We lived in a teepee buried by 12 foot snowdrifts.
He ran around at night over our moldy futon making trouble in the dry goods box on the desk, chewing candles and leaving pee trails on the ever-growing piles of pictures and poems drawn o the inside of grocery store bags.
A neighbor dog broke into the teepee through a loose seem and chased ota out of where the back corner would have been if a tee pee had corners. It was then that we acquired a big chicken wire cage that had brought chicks to the land the spring before. It had a cute wooden roof and a straw floor and fit perfectly between the futon and the barrel stove. This way he stayed toasty without catching fire.
The cage irritated him a little but kept him from being eaten. My strong preference was that Otay never be eaten.
The sides of the cage were very nice for climbing. A couple of times Otay managed to suspend himself long enough to chew through the corners of the roof and I had to repair them with various methods and masses of electrical tape. Why did we seem to have so much electrical tape?
The dogs would wine at the cage but they knew not to get to close or they would be out in the snow. It was hard for them to understand, having been raised with rewards when they kept Otays’ wild distant cousins out of the barn and the big cabin where the family who belonged to this land lived.
We took a short walk to Oakland California at some point to see my olde drinking buddy from Cottage Grove. He is one of my favorite people I have ever made a series of poor decisions with. Otay nibbled our toes in the loft built above the kitchen built above the bike shop.
When we stumbled back to the car in San Francisco he narrowly avoided the nervous kitty. I was no help to him, curled up and shaking. Then it was back home through stormy mountain passes in a car with no heat whose windows had to stay down to keep the windshield from fogging over.
In December we traveled over to Seattle for Otays first Christmas. He lived on cookies and cheese wedge shaped chew toys and took extra long naps.
We decided to go down to Olympia. Then we decided we may as well borrow little white truck and drive to Arizona since we were already there. Otay rode on the seat behind my head or between the laps of myself and the friend who came along. We picked up 3 of our closest friends in S.F. and drove south a few miles at which time the trucks engine exploded because I had forgotten that trucks need oil.
We left it by the side of the road. We broke into two teams of two and hit the highway one after the other. Our fifth went back to the city. He was in love up there anyways and found it very fortunate that he had a good reason not to go south with us. For all I know he had put sugar in the gas tank.
It was the middle of the night and Skrap, Otay, Grandpa (our buddy) and myself were the second team on the on-ramp. A bottom hitting football star cokehead in a big big big shiny shiny shiny black car picked us up.
We slept that night in an R.V. parked in his side yard. That R.V. was larger and more luxurious than most homes either of us had ever been in. Otay got to tunnel in and out of fresh sheets while we watched belly dancing on public access on a large TV mounted between the driver and passenger seats.
Like I said, by that time we did not travel with a cage. By night we would be sleeping in the bushes and I would periodically wake up and hear him nibbling around, but come morning he would be curled in the bottom of my sleeping bag or scratching at my lips. I bet Skraps smell and over-all awesomeness lent itself to Otay never becoming a snack in those days.
It was a whirlwind down thru L.A. and out into the desert. We stopped only to charm people in Wal Mart parking lots, take our naps and drink beers when we tired of pouring them into to-go cups.
Then there was McDonalds. Oh McDonalds. Grandpa and myself had inadvertently found us on a spiritual journey where everything in our lives was being questioned. This included such no brainers as- McDonalds is not actually food. So we ate it. It was our new attitude, breaking away from all preconceived notions. Freedom tasted not like a baby and not like bathwater, we had thrown both out! Freedom tasted like double “cheese burgers”. We ate it until out poop turned black and we dreamt about vegetables. Then we ate it again, big macs apple pies chicken nuggets….it was not a proud time.
Between decisions like that and the booze, Otay, who basically lived in my mouth and refused most other water, suffered similar digestive struggles as myself. Diarrhea became very common for both of us. Rat diarrhea on me in 105-degree weather, racing toward Bisbee where we hardly had enough water to keep us conscious let alone bathe… that was love.
Grace had a dear friend scoop us up. She was visiting family in southern California and she drove us through the miles of one-exit-at-a-time that some people get trapped in for years.
Tucson was wild. We met back up with the friends who had been in the white truck. We got drunk in a tunnel in the morning. When I woke up t was afternoon, Skrap and Otay were curled up on the dirt with me. We walked back to our friend’s house and got drunk again. I had sex with a nice girl on the front porch then went inside and had sex with another nice girl who didn’t normally do that sort of thing. Certainly not on the kitchen counter, then in the middle of the dance floor, then in a sleeping bag 3 feet from her ex boyfriend. Otay was a real trooper. I have no idea where he was but in the morning he was beside me.
Grandpa and I woke up early and got while the getting was good. A hippy headed to Bisbee for the same New Years Hoorah we had our sights set on picked us up. We listened to a cassette tape of chicken stompers from a tribe that lived half on this side of the border and half on the other.
In Bisbee Prince Otay rode in and out of all kinds of music and pubs and parades. We stayed out in the desert. Otay stayed in a bus with Grandpa so that the dog of the guy I was boning would not eat him.
It was here that Otay performed his first miracle…