Friday, December 18, 2015

The Tuxedo Variations

Christmas is a legal holiday, so even though I'm a Jew I think I have a dispensation if I don't get around to posting here next week. Unless I am struck with a sudden compulsion to write something (highly improbable) this will likely be my final post of 2015. There is always shitty stuff happening in the world for me to wring my hands about but the last couple months seem particularly awful and rife with violence and stupidity. It feels like the world is worse off than a year ago. Having been in Europe during the Paris bombings, and having close ties with the San Bernardino/Redlands area, these events are particularly resonant. The odds, I know, are better that I am offed by a herd of stampeding wildebeest than at the hands of a terrorist. But, I think that 2015 brings a change to the way that most people think about the world. Perhaps 2016 will occasion a pandemic of compassion and common sense.

I have chronicled here over the last two years the loss of two dogs and two cats, the last being our beloved Gary who leaves us a few days after we return from our trip. We are both devastated but the truth is that while Gary liked me just fine, he preferred Himself, as had his predecessor Malcolm. Himself hadn't been a cat person when he met me but he developed a fierce attachment to Malcolm and later Gary. There has been a discussion about not replacing pets in order to free us up for travel but I agree to this only when it seems like Gary will survive for many more years. Given the kitty's early demise and the fact that I have always had a cat (usually a number of cats) I am desperate for feline companionship. Himself, however, still in deep grief, keeps throwing up the zero population growth agreement and staunchly refuses to discuss the matter.

Number One Son, at age twenty-three is pretty much a mensch. His graduation and subsequent landing of a decent job provide my greatest satisfactions of the past year. Nevertheless, once in a while the boy doesn't plan ahead and requires a parental bailout. This is in the first paragraph of my Jewish mother job description but Himself, being of the gentile persuasion, is a bit less patient with these little screw ups. “Don't tell Dad,” is sort of our conspiratorial mantra. Number One Son is frantic one morning, unable to locate his keys. We scour the house to no avail and Himself's irritation is palpable.

The mystery of the keys is solved several days later. Himself has confused them with his own keys and they have been relegated to a drawer upstairs in our bedroom. Among my other duties as assigned is exploiting guilt to my own advantage. Knowing the Himself feels lousy about stealing the keys, I retain the boy's services in the cat matter. He broaches the subject with his pop at the dinner table, after a couple of beers. My son, having undoubtedly blossomed under my tutelage, is charmingly relentless and refuses to take “no cat” for an answer. Himself is ultimately broken and says that in the unlikely event that he were to adopt another, it would have to be a tuxedo cat like Malcolm and Gary.

At warp speed I make contact with the Kitty Bungalow. This is a self-described charm school for cats, housed in a bungalow near USC. Volunteers come in regularly to socialize feral kittens. I make an appointment and from dozens of candidates, I choose two male tuxedo litter-mates. Ordinarily kitties aren't homed until they are neutered but I guess I make a good impression and they are released in time for Hanukkah.

Kittens and cats are housed in different rooms at the bungalow. Mine are in a small room with a couple dozen other kittens when I go to fetch them. The door opens and while the other kitties carry on, my two tuxedos march right out, ready to go. The last litter-mates I adopted, over a decade ago, where Gary, Mary and Larry. The kids and I drove to a home in El Monte and when Himself came home with a big yellow bag from the opening day of Amoeba Records the tiny trio was playing on the bed.

Things ended badly for Larry. I found him lifeless in the bedroom and was stricken. I called our dear friend and neighbor Broderick whose sonic arrival and expeditious dead cat removal I will always be grateful for. When the deed was done, Broderick did present me back with the towel I had given him for wrapping kitty. “Do you want this?”

Mary was a sweet shy thing and while Gary allied with Himself, she was my girl. She contracted stomach cancer in 2013. The new adoptees are Harry and Jerry. Himself returns from his meditation class and the pair are frisking on the bed. I am concerned that he will be miffed as he hadn't really committed to a new cat, let alone two. Luckily the “if” in “if I got a cat” doesn't come back to bite my ass and he is immediately in love. We note within minutes their distinct personalities. Jerry is more outgoing and jaunty. Harry is quiet and conservative. Both poop about three times their body weight every day.

Himself is on sabbatical for a few more weeks and spending days at home reading and writing. Since the arrival Harry and Jerry a week ago, when Himself is working in his chair, they are on his shoulder. When he is in bed they are on his head. He baby talks to them all day long. Seldom has a risk I've taken paid off so well.

Facebook is my window on the state of the universe. Stupid platitudes. Neediness and self promotion. Earnest political info-graphics shared with like minded friends who share them with like minded friends. Cute kids. The current metaphor for shallow and banal is “cat videos.” The truth is, cat and dog pictures and videos (and the occasional teacup pig) are really the only thing I value on Facebook. A recent video posted of people weeping as they receive gift puppies has me in tears. One of my favorites is “Dogs Annoying Cats with their Friendship.” Some hardcore animal rights people make a stink about “Cats Terrified of Cucumbers” being cruel but it doesn't really bother me when once in a while a cat is brought down a peg. I don't follow Governor Jerry Brown on Facebook but I am a long time devotee of his Corgi, the First Dog of California, Sutter Brown. The brunt of my feed however is “Dog Spotting” which is nothing more than people posting pictures of dogs. I've posted two myself.

One of the bigger laughs I have ever gotten is at a Weight Watcher's meeting. I am sitting with my posse of girlfriends and the leader of the group describes a woman's triumph in establishing a physical fitness regime. She dances Zumba with her husband every night. I whisper “Himself and I do that,” and my friends disrupt the meeting, wailing in laughter. My husband is greatly respected but taciturn and gruff are probably more apt than bubbly or effusive. After the heartbreak of Gary's death, Himself now babbles in baby talk all day to Harry and Jerry. If two tiny kittens make for such a change in disposition maybe the weapon for world peace is Facebook going all kittens and puppies all of the time.


John L. Murphy / "FionnchĂș" said...

Thanks for the chance to spread world peace. They are sitting on me as I type and send their sleepy love as do I. xxx me

Sander said...

Hi, Layne, John.