What Did You Want, Exactly?

Last week we got a phone call from “the movie people.” They’re in town filming Big Stone Gap, based on Adriana Trigiani’s novel of the same name, and people are getting phone calls left and right asking for help locating props or spaces. The nice lady on the other end of the line said she’d been told by our local vet that we were the go-to people for kittens.

I laughed. “Yes, ma’am, I foster cats. Tell me how the kittens will be treated and what they’ll be expected to do.”

She outlined something that would stress out neither nursing infants nor the mommy cat requested, so I agreed to find her a fuzzy family. Since the fosters in residence at our bookstore were a little old for the part, I called a fellow rescuer who had two sets of kittens. She declined with what I thought at the time was high-handedness; a day later, I envied her that prescience.

Our local shelter had kittens (as always) so I organized a volunteer to pull and house them overnight before filming. I also let PAWS (the rescue I work with) know that the movie people had agreed to pay for mommy cat’s spay, and that I had no room to house the family at my “cathouse.”

My fellow rescuers were ecstatic. We all agreed it would be easy to get “movie star kitties” a foster home, so said home would need careful vetting. A friend put up a Facebook message on the PAWS timeline: “BIG NEWS – and HELP NEEDED! The production company that is filming the Adriana Trigiani movie in Big Stone Gap wants to include a mommy cat and her adorable kittens (approx. 3-4 at 2-3 weeks old) from the Wise County Animal Shelter in their movie! They will film them on Saturday, and in return, will pay for the momma cat to be spayed when the kittens are weaned. How wonderful! HERE’S WHAT WE NEED – – This feline family will be pulled from the shelter for the film but have nowhere to go afterwords. WE NEED A FOSTER!!!! If you can help these new movie stars, call Wendy at [phone]!!! Please share!”

About two hours later, I returned a phone call to a woman we’ll call “Mona” who asked me to take down my Facebook message; they had to be careful who was affiliated with the film. I told her I hadn’t put one up, but the conversation that followed seemed to circle some undefined bush, beating it to no effect. When Mona said “security reasons” required her to ask me to remove the message, I reiterated that I hadn’t posted one, but the whole time my mind was picturing kittens in camo hoodies, sneaking up on unsuspecting cameramen.

In an effort to find the center of the complaint, I said I’d be happy to hide my friend’s post from my timeline (where it showed because I’d been tagged) but PAWS would still need a message requesting the kittens be fostered after filming. The phone call ended in a way that felt unpleasant, and this continues to confuse me.

So does the fact that local FB timelines are blown up right now with “I’m gonna be an extra” and “they’re filming on my dad’s land” and “guess whose car is gonna be driven in THE MOVIE.” Posts that never came down.

I honestly don’t know what Mona wanted. What I wanted before her call was five more cats out of the shelter and super-easy to adopt out because they’d have been in THE MOVIE. After her call, I wanted to return to a reasoned existence as quickly as possible. I phoned the nice lady who had asked me for kittens in the first place, and she knew why I was calling. She apologized for the “unnecessary ugliness.” I told her I was sorry I couldn’t help her.

My mind plays Mona’s call over and over, trying to make sense of it. The Trigiani family has historically been very nice to our bookstore. Adriana cut the ribbon when we opened seven years ago, then for two years sent us boxes of books that had been sent to her, gifts to help us acquire good stock. Her mom sent us more boxes when cleaning the home place attic, and asked Jack to sing for her garden club. Like the rest of the town, we will benefit from the Big Stone Gap movie being filmed here. We’re glad they’re here, strange phone calls notwithstanding.

The part that actually hurts is that the kittens died in the shelter the day after we would have pulled them. There are some rampant illnesses there just now, and they were only two weeks old. Mommy cat is still there, a calico, waiting for a forever home.

Go by, mad world. Better yet, go by the shelter and adopt a mommy cat innocent of any offense. She deserves it.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

4 responses to “What Did You Want, Exactly?

  1. Aw, dammit – this is heartbreaking, and could have been so easily avoided, leading to a happy ending for those babies. I’m so sorry, Wendy.

  2. Nancy

    I was so happy when I read the first sentence because it seems like this move has taken forever to be filmed . . . but this is so sad. Sorry Wendy.

  3. Deb Kelley

    so am i understanding correctly that this Mona lady didn’t want you to take the cats out of the shelter ?

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