REALITY CHECK: Cats and extension ladders

Reality Check | Mike Taylor

There’s no good reason an acrophobic person should own an extension ladder, but I do. It’s a good one — reeeeaaaal long — that I inherited when an ex-girlfriend moved out of her house and decided she no longer wanted it.

I’ve had the ladder a few years now, but have never used it other than to loan it out to friends who do not suffer from my entirely rational and understandable fear of heights.

As phobias go, a fear of heights isn’t the worst card I could have drawn from life’s capricious deck. I mean, some people suffer from amaxophobia, the fear of riding in a car. I experience this to some degree while riding in my daughter’s Kia, but so would any sane person. She’s driven for over 15 years without once glancing at the road.

Then there’s bibliophobia, the fear of books. I would hate to suffer from this one. I’m a voracious reader and can’t imagine having to resort to Judge Judy or Divorce Court for my entertainment needs.

I eat at the local Chinese joint at least once a week, so consecotaleophobia would be especially debilitating for me. (Consecotaleophobia’s the fear of chopsticks, of course. Can’t believe you didn’t already know this.)

My point is, there are worse phobias than a fear of heights. All one need do to avoid acrophobia’s symptoms is keep one’s feet on the ground. This I do at all times. Most of the time.

Sadly, we live in a world where light bulbs must be changed, gutters must be cleaned, where stupid, stupid, STUPID cats jump on the roof and get stuck there.

My cat, Friday Magoo, is such a cat.

He is mostly an indoor cat, but he so loves to kill small, defenseless creatures that I let him out from time to time just so he can sate his deplorable, feline bloodlust. Usually, Friday’s kills consist of moths and spiders, but once in a while he snags a small snake or rodent, which quickly becomes unidentifiable.

I know it’s all part of the Disney-esque circle of life, but try telling that to the field mouse being eviscerated for the sole purpose of preventing a cat from getting bored.

Anyway, though my opinion of feline behavior in general is not particularly commendatory, I do like my own cat. So when the idiot got himself stuck up on my roof, I felt obliged to rescue him.

He jumped there from the top of my wood pile, climbed to the highest point and then decided that he, too, is acrophobic.

My first impulse was to simply wait him out. Cats are by nature morons, but I figured he would eventually realize he could get down again by leaping to the wood pile, then to the ground. He would get hungry or bored and then return to earth.

Unfortunately, night was coming on and it looked like rain. I couldn’t just go inside and leave him up there, meowing his fool head off.

So for the first time ever, I dragged the extension ladder out of the garage with the intention of actually using the thing myself. Just the thought of it made my knees go all funny.

It took me a good 20 minutes to screw up my courage to climb the ten feet or so to the rooftop and another five to find the guts to step off onto the roof, which I suddenly realized is more steeply sloped than the southeast face of Everest.

Looking directly at my feet and nowhere else, I managed to inch my way up the roofline while Friday Magoo lounged against the chimney loudly meowing his opinion that I was not moving fast enough.

The world spun out below me like something from an Alfred Hitchcock thriller; fellow acrophobics (acrophobes? acrophobians? I’m too lazy to look it up) will understand. I reached the roof’s peak just as the last of the feeling left my legs. I slumped to a sitting position as a black streak zipped past my field of vision and rocketed off the roof.

I chanced glancing down. There in the yard, autumn leaves wafting lazily around his fuzzy haunches, sat Friday Magoo. An “aren’t we having fun now?” look graced his furry face.

I’m writing this, so obviously I eventually escaped the roof myself. It took several hours for my knees to stop knocking.

My new neighbor, Andy, has a great big, loud, scary-looking dog. “Sugar” is a sweetheart and mostly harmless, but Friday Magoo doesn’t know this.

I can’t wait to introduce them.

Mike Taylor’s book, “Looking at the Pint Half Full,” is available at Robbins Book List in downtown Greenville and in Kindle format from Amazon.com.

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