The cats.

Sunday, I accidentally left my phone (which Jim calls “The Appendage”) sitting on the kitchen table when I left the house for the day. When we got home, the cats had, of course, batted it to the ground. Carol had also opened the SD port and chewed the cover into a shape that guarantees it will never snap back into place.

So when they ran out of food and I realized it at ten o’clock last night, I was not hugely motivated to remedy the situation. This morning, however, after seeing that they’d rejected the pork filings and multi-grain Cheerios I’d dumped into their dish, I guiltily decided that a quick trip to the store before work was in order.

There is a small convenience store visible from Daphne’s bedroom window, if you look carefully enough through the trees. I have never visited said establishment because, frankly, it looks a bit scary. It is at the convergence of two main thoroughfares in town, and the area, which probably used to be bustling, is dilapidated and unkempt. There are bars on the windows and doors, and it is a shabby old building. It is the closest thing, however, and what harm could there be in just popping in to see what they had available?

First, when I arrived, I noticed that there were two late-model, rather nice cars in the parking lot. That was a good sign. Also, as I pulled into my own spot, I saw the “Fountain Drinks” window advertisement. They had me at “fountain.” Coupled with “drinks.”

As I entered, one man left (on foot) sporting his four super-sized cans of Natural Light. It’s what’s for breakfast!

Mission: cat food. Aisle One: wines. Aisle Two: candy. Aisle Three: junk food. Aisle Four: Bingo! Cat food, dog food, cleaning products, and analgesics. The cat food is not a brand I recognize, and it’s probably made up of pencil shavings and actual cats, but until my felines develop opposable thumbs and get a job, they’re stuck with what I bring home. They are lucky I bring anything at all, after the disrespect they constantly show our home and our persons. (Did I mention that Izzy used my bare left arm as a ladder to climb up into the top of my closet this morning?)

Acquiring the cat food, I located the soda fountain. It was just beyond the rack (you’ll see what I did there in a minute) of $5.99 DVDs. All unrated, all featuring scantily-clad, gigantic-tataed women and ridiculous titles like “Airtight Granny” and “Topless Brain Surgeons.”

+++++ WARNING! Nostalgic digression ahead! +++++

When I was a little kid, we lived about half a mile from a small, family-owned grocer (for those of you under 20, you’re just going to have to take my word for it). My sister and I would ride our bikes down there and spend hours selecting candy to make the most of our meager savings. Chocolate footballs were a favorite for me, because they were so cheap. I could get a bunch of those. I loved Marathon Bars, too, but that would usually eat up most of my cash. The cashier was always friendly, and would help us if we had trouble paying. Then we’d throw candy and change into small brown paper bags and happily ride back home to counteract any exercise we’d just gotten acquiring said sweets.

+++++ End of digression. +++++

Mental note to myself: Never, EVER let Daphne run to the store by herself. So. much. not to see. Ever.

Also, there used to be a grill of some type in this store. They have a couple of institutional deep-fryers, and a really nice gas stove (and, yes, I was lusting after the unused kitchen equipment because I have a killer small business idea, but hopefully we’ll have more on that later), but the entire kitchen is crammed with boxed product and previously-utilized picnic tables.

There were no straws for the fountain drinks, which was disconcerting. I was not going to put my mouth on anything from that place that had not previously been wrapped. Fortunately, I am a bit of a soda fiend, and I happened to have a straw left over from my second McDonald’s run last night. (Which is to say my second McDonald’s drink run; we actually went through the McDrive-Through thrice yesterday.)

There were a couple of customers buying liquor and lottery tickets, and a guy who was trying to get back into the bathroom. They do have a public restroom, but there is so much product stacked up in the floor, that dude had to climb over it to get down the hall.

Final tally for my drink, the cat food, a muffin, and a Moon Pie was just over $7. My budget can’t afford that, even if the store were lovely.

So. The cats are fed, the store lived up to everything I thought it might be, and next time, I’ll just hit the Dollar General. ‘Cause I’m upper crust like that.