pphoto by Lisa Whiteman
I know it’s kind of fruity, but there are seriously times I can’t stand my cats for being this cute. They make me feel like a drooling idiot, because I am unable to take my eyes off them. I want to throw a heavy blanket over them, just to dim the dazzle for a second.
This type of feline configuration is actually pretty common in our home, so you can imagine my consternation. Ble has grown calmer, and her dental and mental health has been improving lately–the belly fur is even growing back, miraculously–possibly because Lisa decided the only way to calm Ble’s peanut-sized brain was to get maximum string-play every day. These days, when Ble approaches my desk making those strange close-lipped gurgling cat yodels with a frayed length of twine in her dumb mouth, instead of rolling my eyes at her, I let her drop the twine at my feet and then pick it up. I twirl it around her clockwise, until she whips her body around enough to lose balance, then twirl it similarly counter-clockwise. A couple minutes of this three or four (or seven) times every day seems like a pretty good trade-off for the return of 99.9% fur coverage.
Last night I was up very late, recovering (re-writing) a script I had lost thanks to my adult ADD and Final Draft’s refusal to autosave by default. This happened to me after a very long day of writing (and not saving), and about 15 minutes after I was struck by a car while crossing the street. For another perspective, it happened 15 minutes before I accidentally spilled an entire tupperware container of refrigerated Quinoa on my kitchen floor, and 17 minutes before the broom I was using to sweep up the spilled Quinoa fell from its position leaning against the refrigerator and landed on the cats’ water bowl, flipping it and its contents 180 degrees .
(Regarding being hit by a car, I was banged up and thrown off-balance but, like Jake LaMotta, I was still standing when it was all over. The car was turning, and I honestly saw it coming but my brain was slowed down and I kept thinking, There’s no way this car can’t see me in the middle of the crosswalk, in the middle of the street. Surely it will stop. In retrospect, it’s probably a good rule to not the benefit of the doubt to cars that are obviously bearing down on you. The worst part was the driver gave me a look like I’d planned the whole thing; as if I’d jumped up from a manhole at the very last minute. I made sure to inform her of this gross misinterpretation of events, peppering my speech with coarse language to impress the drug dealers on the corner who had witnessed the whole thing. I think I might have called her a “dickhead.” High-five, fellas!)
When I shut down my computer at 3am and turned off the lights, I saw Ble and Coleman were once again in the same spot and same positions depicted in the above photo. Ble was awake, and tongue-bathing the top of Coleman’s head so emphatically her fur wasn’t just clean, it was damp. And maybe it was the late hour, my total exhaustion, or the events of the day, but as I watched my cats together I started crying a little. I was thinking about how fragile and neurotic this little cat is, but how genuinely happy she seems right now, and how so much of that happiness seems to be dependent on her relationship with a larger, much older cat who sometimes slaps and menaces her. And then I wondered how she’ll be affected if she outlives Coleman.
I know this is an equally morbid and idiotic to think about, and all the truly evolved people believe animals were put on earth to stop bullets, or eat rodents and burglars, but I couldn’t help myself. A cat’s brain can’t possibly comprehend the largeness of absence in death; my brain barely can and it is, by all accounts, super large. (and smooth) Coleman and Ble are the first cats I’ve been responsible for, so I couldn’t really say firsthand what happens when one survives the other. I know exactly how sad I’d be, but when I considered Ble’s dumb wiring, it was troubling to imagine how death would affect her. I expect she won’t be able to lick all of her fur off fast enough to express her primitive form of grieving.