ALICE IN CANE LAND

I’ve had my cane, Alice, for more than ten years. She is sturdy and beautiful, with cat faces all over her. I named her Alice because I expected her to lead me into Wonderland, which she has done.

Alice has also had some adventures of her own. Late one rainy afternoon, I stopped at a grocery store on my way home from a book event. I use Alice while I walk into a store, then she┬árides in the cart while I do my shopping. On that particular day, I happened to park next to the spot where carts get returned. By the time I came out of the store, it was dark. I unloaded my groceries, and shoved the cart into the cart stall. Because my car was right there, I didn’t need Alice in order to walk across the parking lot – and I left her in the shopping cart!

As soon as I got home, I realized what I had done. My heart sank at the thought of possibly losing Alice. I called the store and explained my predicament. As soon as I described Alice, the clerk said, “Oh, yes. We have it. It’s behind the customer service counter.” (I wanted to correct the clerk and point out that Alice is a “her” and a “she,” not an “it” but I decided not to press my luck.)

I was too tired to drive back to town that night but first thing the next morning, I went to retrieve Alice. She was leaning against the wall in a corner, with a handsome dark blue cane that had apparently also been left behind. I was glad Alice had found a friend so that she wasn’t afraid to stay alone overnight in the store.

The first time I flew with Alice, I put her in the overhead bin. When the bin was opened at the end of the flight, Alice jumped out and tried to whack a passenger on the head. I grabbed her in the nick of time.

The next time we flew, I placed Alice on the floor under the seat in front of me. When the plane took off, gravity pulled her backward and she slid under the seats behind me. Nobody noticed. When I realized she was gone, I walked down the aisle, looking on the floor. I finally found her three rows back. The young man whose seat she was under didn’t know she was there, but he laughed when I told him Alice had run away, and he fished her out for me.

Now when I fly, Alice rides on the floor but I squeeze her tightly with both feet during takeoff and landing, to make sure she stays where she belongs.

Occasionally I give Alice a bath, rubbing her with a soapy cloth, then rinsing and drying her. She gets “new shoes” now and then, too, because the rubber tip on the cane bottom wears out.

Because of Alice, I feel more secure when I walk. I’m far less likely to fall when she is by my side. We’ve had many fine adventures together, and I anticipate many more.