Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Flashback: A few thoughts on cats.

I realize that I am not a writer.

Oh, I write. I'm not really sure why, other than it seems more fun than
playing video games or mowing the lawn. But I really don't WRITE. I've
never really made the distinction before, but I realize just now that it
is a remarkably important distinction nonetheless. Why? Because as I sit
here late in the evening, I am - probably for the first time - beginning
to appreciate the concept of a deadline.

This is brought home to me grudgingly by someone to purports to be a
good friend of mine. Keith. Keith wants me to write something. Anything.
Bless his heart. It's been days since he has had an email from me, and I
don't know, I guess he is feeling neglected.

The thing about Keith is that he knows my weak points. We traveled
Europe together. And while that is another story - which hopefully you
will never hear the details of - he knows that A) I like beer and B) I'm
cheap. So Keith buys me a few beers and tells me to write something.
Now. Before tomorrow.

Wow. A deadline. I need to write something that justifies Keith spending
scarce resources on my beer appreciation. And that's when it occurs to
me that it must be a pain in the ass to be a writer. I don't have many
interesting ideas, and at the speed I type most of the ones that I do
are long gone from my absurdly ineffectual memory long before I can bang
them into a floppy disc. So when in deadline-induced distress, I am
going to do what the real writers who have nothing to say do: Fall back
on cute little animals who cannot realize that you are exploiting them
for your own nefarious ego appeasement.

So. As many of you now know, I have two dogs. Brothers. Refugees from
the Animal Rescue League. They look alike, which gives me redundancy. If
one has found a comfy place in the sun and is fast asleep while I toil
at work, hopefully the other one will be at the ready to greet any
intruder with warmth and affection (My dogs did not train with an
effective "Homeowner Protection" manual). Do they love me? Of course. Do
they show it? Sure, as long as I have a dog bone around. Otherwise, they
give the impression that I operate a Gulag in my backyard, and their
daily objective is to escape. This is an activity for which they have
developed a proficiency. My dogs get out constantly. They are amazing
animals, squeezing through the narrowest of gaps between the fence and
ground. They actually scrape up their necks and backs digging and then
squeezing through these small apertures. They do this primarily so that
they can then chase the neighborhood cats.

This bothers me. Not that I don't want my dogs to catch the neighborhood
cats. I do. Cat prints on my newly washed automobile disturbs me to a
disproportionate degree, especially considering the fact that currently
my car still sports the damage from the incident with my neighbor's
Oldsmobile (Flashback: the ghost driver colliding with my car and home.
Someday I will have to tell you about my experiences with the insurance
company. I am convinced that this particular insurance company handles
all of the insurance needs of the global Muslim community, and that is
why they are all so pissed off all of the time).

But the trouble is that my dogs focus on the pursuit of cats to the
exclusion of everything else, including other dogs, people, moving cars,
motorcycles, and my ineffectual yelling at them to get them to come back
or at least not get squashed by the moving car that they are continuing
to ignore. Air Force pilots call this behavior "target fixation". I call
it "imbecilism". And so my dogs constantly end up confirming that they
are dopes by running in front of cars, and I constantly end up looking
dopish by chasing after them screaming ineffectual monosyllabic commands
("Stop! Don't! Come Here! Sit! Stop! Shit. Sorry!"). My reward at forty
years of age is to arrive at home only to be outrun not only by my sleek
energetic dog but also by my chunky lazy dog. This is a disheartening
start to a relaxing post-work evening.

Cat owners don't go through this, which is why I don't really like
people who own cats. You cannot trust them. They throw their cat out
into the street, and don't get concerned unless the cat does not show up
back at the house by Mardi Gras. They know their cat is fighting. They
know their cat is breeding. But as long as their cat is not driving
their car into an uninsured school bus being driven by a hungry trial
lawyer they are remarkably unconcerned.

You cannot do this with dogs. Even if you wanted to. When my dogs get
loose and wander the neighborhood, I get calls at work. From cat owners.
Who are pissed. Get this: My escapee dogs corner someone's cat, either
in a tree or garage or whatever, and I get a nasty phone call lecturing
me on the fact that my dogs are out. HELLO! Your bloody cats are roaming
the neighborhood like it's the Serengeti. And they, unlike my two
beasts, almost assuredly haven't been fixed yet. That's why my dogs
chase squirrels and cats: They want to show any other small animal what
it feels like to have their balls ripped off.

And another thing about cats: when you let cats out, they have a nasty
tendency to bring things back. Mice. Lizards. Dead birds. All lovingly
deposited for the owner's inspection. I have a friend of mine that
insists that this is a sign of respect. He says that his vet - a
graduate of Texas A&M (motto: We know animal love!) - confirms that when
a cat leaves a dead animal at your door, it is paying homage for all of
the affection it receives as a member of the family.

Horseshit. Hey, your vet may be an aggie, but she clearly is not dumb.
She could tell you that your cat disembowels animals because it is a
sadistic and filthy animal that could care less how often you have to
steam clean your carpet, and you would be better off stuffing it down
the disposal. But then she would get no repeat business. But if she
convinces you that this is a caring family member who thinks you are God
and wants nothing more than to worship at your feet via animal
sacrifice, she can count on you to spring for incredibly expensive open
heart surgical procedures when your cat is fifteen years old, fat and
decrepit when you could otherwise get a perfectly good replacement
kitten from any one of innumerable numbers of your friends and
co-workers at no cost because all that cats do is eat, sleep, fight and
fuck and as a result everyone that you know is trying to give away plump
sleepy little kittens.

Actually, from the sound of them in my neighborhood the fighting and
fucking thing is blended into one activity, which may be the only reason
I would ever consider being reincarnated as a cat.

Another thing, as long as we are pursuing relatively random thoughts:
Have you ever seen a dog or cat blow a liquid out their nose? I haven't
either. But it would be a damn funny sight if they did. It's too bad,
but blowing soda pop out of one's nose is a distinctly human experience.

Anyway. Obviously I am not a writer, and my dogs are not that fond of
cats. Other than that, the only thing I know is that I just might be
able to squeeze in one more beautiful beer before bedtime.

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