One of my best friends in the world is Forrest Gump (the cat). I don’t love him more than the other three animals in the house, but we have a special bond. He sleeps next to me at night, curls in my lap in just the right position to allow video game playing and generally adores me in a very un-cat-like fashion.
He’s also dumber than a truckload of Jersey Shore DVDs.
Forrest Gump (the cat) would not even live at the Institute if my wife had not insisted we take him in. Someone had obviously discarded Forrest, and although he was very friendly, he also liked to run and hide under cars. Cars with the engine running. In Darwinian terms, Forrest Gump (the cat)’s days were numbered. He wasn’t a smart kitty, but he knew what love was, so we kept him and named him after one of my favorite fictional characters. I was against the idea. We already had a cat and a dog. But Jessica prevailed.
Forrest soon displayed a proclivity for pissing anywhere. He particularly likes carpet. Three years after relocating to Stonebrook, our living room gave off the faint but unmistakable odor of retarded cat pee. Jessica—the same woman who had lobbied to take the Gump into our home in the first place—wanted to make Forrest into an outside kitty. This would be like making Steve Urkel into a heavyweight boxer. Bad idea. By now, I liked him too much.
Instead, Jess settled for tearing up the carpet and laying down a new floor.
This photo essay documents the project:
Two “before” views of the Institute’s Main Hall. There was another picture really encapsulating the sheer damage done to the carpet by Forrest Gump (the cat) and Mercy, our seven-month-old puppy who believes carpet to be the ultimate toilet paper. I decided not to post that particular shot. It made me queasy.
You’ll notice the dark accent wall. We chose light-colored flooring because, you know, I don’t like the sensation of living in a cave.
Before moving on, it is necessary to point out a feature of the second photo, enlarged here:
This is Smithwick, aka “Smitty,” aka “Home Defense Kitty.” More on him in a moment.
First, we had to move everything out of the Main Hall and tear up the carpet. If someone allergic to cats dies and goes to hell, they spend eternity tearing up carpet identical to the one in the Institute. After manhandling the urine-soaked carpet and pad out the door and then into a dumpster, I smelled like Hell’s Litter Box.
But the carpet (and a lot of the smell) was gone:
Jessica scrubbed the baseboards and the concrete under the worst areas. I gave Forrest Gump (the cat) a good talking-to.
Surprisingly, the biggest detail when laying down a laminate floor is a solid underlayment. If you get a cheap underlayment, every step anyone takes on your pricy new wood floors sounds like a Sasquatch in horseshoes doing the Riverdance on a hollow wooden box. So we spent the extra dough and got the good stuff. It cost more than the floor itself.
But it came in a catchy color.
My parents have put down floors in their old house in Orlando and in their current house, the Garnerosa. Without their help (and tools), Jessica and I would have concrete floors and a date in Divorce Court. So big shout-outs to the Ps.
The big project ate up two full days—Saturday and Sunday. During Sunday’s marathon of floor installation, the NFC and AFC championship games came on the television, leading to this scenario:
In our defense, Dad and I did breathe in a lot of cat urine as we removed the carpet.
There was one moment of pure, unadulterated comic drama. Mom and Dad brought their dog, the lovable Boo (not pictured), and sequestered her in a room away from the work (and the cats). Boo is a 55-pound American Bulldog with a head like a statue and jaws that could chew through tractor tires. With a few days in the Michael Vick Finishing School for Puppies, Boo could be a killing machine. Instead, she’s pretty docile.
At some point, Boo stepped into the Main Hall while Forrest Gump (the cat) was appraising the progress. What resulted is a phenomenon my dear friend Alex simply calls “Halloween Kitty.” Halloween Kitties bode well for no one.
Just when we thought the hilarity would end there (and the appropriate photos had been taken), an orange blur streaked into the room. Smitty had come to life in the defense of his brother. He was also in Halloween mode, but he wasn’t just putting on a show. Smitty mounted not one but two successive frontal assaults on Boo, who was pondering “Whatz iz catz?” Her question was answered. “Catz iz angryz and pointy.”
The encounter was not photographed because I was trying to figure out how to remove Smitty from Boo before Boo realized she could kill the psychopathic feline with about two snaps of the jaws. I was also trying to figure out how to do this without sustaining severe lacerations. Having an Annie Leibovitz moment with the whole scene just didn’t appear prudent.
After the Great Attack Cat Confrontation, as the event quickly came to be known, progress on the floor installation moved faster.
At the time of this final picture, a little detail work remained, but the bulk of the project was finished. Everyone had sore knees and aching backs. Boo had a small, cosmetic facial wound. Forrest Gump hid in the garage under the lawn mower for the rest of the day. Smitty labors under the delusion that he really can whip a bulldog (notice that in the picture, he is on patrol for any more action). The Institute no longer smells like cat piss (at least in the main hall) and most importantly, my wife is happy.
Doesn’t she look happy?