Thursday, January 15, 2015

Zoe vs. Sleeping Beauty
Or, Why We May Have to
Cryonically Preserve Our Cat

Zoe never met either of her grandfathers. Both my father and my husband's father died before she was born. So you'll understand our disquiet when Zoe recently began talking about her "grampa."
"Grampa gave X to me." "My grampa says X." "My grampa's super smart." Sort of sweet but also sort of creepy. 
When I asked her about her "grampa," she told me: "He lives in the country and his name is Never."
Okay, super creepy.
Still, it led me to wonder, what is Zoe's conception of death? You see, our cat is dying, and the husband and I are not sure how to introduce the topic, if at all.
Historically, Zoe hasn't taken consistent notice of Harley. As a baby Zoe tried to eat Harley's food. Then there was the violent petting of the toddler years and subsequent confusion over why Harley was avoiding her. In fact, the first post I ever wrote was Zoe vs. the Cat. (Ah, nostalgia. Ah, the narrow margins and long paragraphs of the newbie blogger.)
But then, when Harley had to stay at the vet's overnight for a test, Zoe started crying and carrying on about when she'd be back. Harley, she said, was her best friend.
So: problem.
A friend suggested that the next time we watched a Disney movie, I should feel Zoe out as to what she thinks happens to a character who dies. Disney movies are chock full of death. And often it's the mother who gets it. But that's a subject for another post.
This past weekend we were watching Sleeping Beauty. Perfect, right? The whole sleeping as death imagery was rife for discussion. Plus, Maleficent dies at the end. The prince stabs her in the heart with his sword, but only after she transforms into a dragon, presumably to make the death more palatable. For human children, not dragon children. Anyway, Maleficent is dead dead, not sleeping dead. It's pretty clear.

Keynote speakers at the Evil Villain Convention
Las Vegas, 2014

That night, during Zoe's bath, I eased into the topic of death.
Me: Did you like Sleeping Beauty?
Zoe: Yes.
Me: What did you like about it?
Zoe: The bad queen.
Me (unsurprised): Why did you like her?
Zoe: Because she's bad.
Me: Really?
Zoe: Yes, she's super bad.
Me (a hint of concern in my voice): What about sleeping beauty? Did you like her?
Zoe: Yes. Because she's pretty.
Me (oh dear): And what about the prince? Did you like him?
Zoe: Yes. Because he's a boy.
Me (scrambling now): And what about Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather?
Zoe: Yes, because they're fairies and can do magic.
Conclusion: Zoe's values are a bit effed up.
To review:
(1) She likes people who are bad.
(2) If you're a girl, you need to be pretty.
(3) If you're a boy, you should just continue in that vein.
(4) If you can do magic, you're aces in her book, no questions asked. 
Then I asked her what she thought happened to Maleficent at the end.
Zoe: She changed into a dragon.
Me: And after that?
Zoe: The prince stabbed her with his sword.
Me: And then?
Zoe: She fell off the cliff.
Me: And then what happened to her?
Zoe: Then she was frozen.
That threw me, ending the evening's Q&A. I hadn't expected that answer though I don't know why not. More than her mother and father, it is Disney that has formed her belief system, and what was the first movie she ever saw? The ubiquitous Frozen.
Before we could even think of addressing the subject of death it was already too late. To Zoe, death is being frozen.
But, if people love you enough, and/or you have enough love in your heart, you can be unfrozen.
I could see this leading to some misunderstandings down the road.
Which is why I'm considering cryonically preserving Harley, our doomed cat. It's super expensive though. And, I think, super illegal. There are alternatives. There's taxidermy, our grandparents' method for pet preservation. But apparently, all the cool kids are now freeze-drying their Chihuahuas and English Mastiffs (buyer beware: price is per pound) through companies like Perpetual Pet.

The cruel twist was Kiki hated that blue bow in life.

No skinning and mounting. How barbaric! Now when Fido slips off his mortal coil, stick him in the freezer and wait for pickup.
And, as opposed to cryonics---where your pet would have to undergo the procedure before technical death (i.e., be Han Solo'ed) and would then be stored off-premises  (i.e., not in your house or Jabba the Hutt's) in a tank filled with liquid nitrogen at a cool -196-degrees Celsius (for a cool 5K)---if you freeze-dry Sir Fluffington, you can wait till he dies then choose any pose (sleeping, resting, reclining) and keep him with you in your home, freaking out family and friends. However, you will not be reunited in the future as you would if you both were cryonically preserved.
Lots to think about.
Soon after our conversation, Zoe was playing with an ice pack, calling it her baby and stuffing it under her shirt.

Guess which one is Zoe's baby. Not so fast.

Very circle of life. In Zoe's view we start off frozen in the womb, thaw out (are born), then eventually freeze again . . . to once again thaw if we're loved.
Or pretty.
Or a boy.
Or can do magic.
It's almost poetic if you think of it that way. At least for me it was. Until Zoe dropped her ice-pack baby on the floor and placed her foot on it in order to slide around the kitchen.
Back to super creepy, the circle of Zoe.

Walt Disney. Years before his cryonic preservation.
(Scuttlebutt* says Grumpy was frozen with him.)

Zoe: 76; Universe: 0
*But Scuttlebutt is well-known to be an untrustworthy dwarf.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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  1. The cat is going to tell God in heaven that she saw the true face of evil: and it wasn't Lucifer.

  2. This cracked me up: the violent petting of the toddler years and subsequent confusion over why Harley was avoiding her.

  3. Thanks! Poor Harley. She's so long-suffering.

  4. Finally, you've admitted Harley can talk. And has God's ear.

  5. Still laughing! Brilliant and hilarious. I can feel this conversation coming up soon with my two year old, as our cat isn't looking too good these days. Sometimes he smells like he's already dead (the cat, not my son. He just smells like poo).

  6. Like I say here all the time, "Just blame Frozen!" Seriously, very cute and god only knows what my girls think of death though - still haven't broached that topic here yet at all!

  7. Ha, thanks. Yep, and it's all bittersweet now since we had to put the cat to sleep this past weekend.

  8. Frozen does have its uses!

  9. I'm surprised that Disney hasn't screwed us ALL up about death. I like Zoe's version of events.

  10. Aw, no. Sorry to hear that. I hope Zoe is battling through (and you too).

  11. Linda_Roy_elleroy_was_hereJanuary 20, 2015 at 5:49 AM

    Ah...but if life is like a thawed-out frozen dinner, I want to come back as a Lean Cuisine.

  12. Haha. It's more likely I'll come back as one of those Swanson Hungry Man dinners myself.

  13. True. Disney and Catholicism are the main culprits for me!

  14. I always cringe when my daughters give me their commentary on the Disney movies... and both my girls have said super-creepy things about death. I'm shuddering to remember them... This cracked me up!

  15. Thanks! Out of the mouths of babes has never been the light amusement it's supposed to be!

  16. Jill Ginsberg at the JillistJanuary 22, 2015 at 5:47 PM

    Um, can I have a playdate with Zoe? She sounds like my kind of girl!! And is sticking the dog in a pile of snow an option?

  17. I always imagine you reading your posts in a deadpan kinda voice - you always make me laugh!

    Whenever I get a little sad that my kids are teenagers already, I just remember Frozen and how we dodged that bullet. Disney princesses didn't get big until my daughter was past the age of caring.

  18. Kids always crack me up, you never know what they are going to come up with.

  19. Shhhh! Don't let the Mouse hear you. He has ears everywhere.

  20. Absolutely. On all counts!

  21. Thanks! Yes, you missed it. I feel like there was a dearth there for a while but Frozen has really spawned fanaticism. Yay?

  22. It's like the cutest crapshoot. Sometimes with real crap!