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I once got paid to spend the summer telling lies to little kids. I ran a mountain man program at a district Boy Scout camp. I told my guests I was born in my log cabin and I traded for everything I had. Late evenings I shot muzzleloader rifles with campers and then told ghost stories around the fire. Oh, how I wish that would pay enough to be my career instead of just a one-time summer job.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Conversation About What's in the Box

My wife and I have three cats. I'm hoping to get a dog some day. This is the conversation I imagine our cats would say the day I bring puppy home.  Most of this conversation recounts events through courtship and adding cats to the family.


    “What’s wrong?” The queen rolled her eyes at such an obvious question. She could hear the unusual sounds in her domain. There was also the smell. Sure, that smell sometimes came through the window, but never was it this strong. She hadn’t smelled that smell since the end of her nightmare years. These kids had been spoiled. They didn’t know it, but they were spoiled. She plopped down on her favorite pillow and started to tell the story. They had to be warned that the new smell and sound surely meant the years of spoil were over.

    “You know those stinky-breath monsters we sometimes see when we go see the doctors? The ones that don’t seem to be aware of their volume ‘cause they’re always yelling? There was one at the last place I lived. I think they called it stoptryingtoeatthecatyougoodfornothingfleabag or something. I don’t know. At first they called it puppy, and it was wiggly and cute and everything, but then it got bigger and just kept chasing me. Always had that big dopey grin on its face. Cat, I tell you, the day our person took me away from there I was so grateful. I even showed my willingness to share her with the cook when he first started coming over.”

    “He’s our person too, isn’t he?”

    “Oh yeah, forgot about that. When she saved me from the house with that stinky monster, it was just me, her, and the rodent. I kept trying to figure out how to eat the rodent, but he was bigger than my head. Anyway, one day our person brought somebody home. They sat there and talked for awhile. He took off his shoes and sat with his stinky feet on my favorite curling-up spot in front of the couch. I pretended to like the smell of his shoes so she’d think I approved. I even purred a little when he petted me. Guess he liked the purring, ‘cause he started coming around a lot. I guess it was ok, ‘cause he was good at petting. I didn’t want them to think I was glad to see him, so I’d always wait for awhile until getting close enough. Sometimes I’d even stay hidden until he left. Then one day he comes home with this box. A small box with a strange smell and a strange sound coming out of it. I tried eating his hand ‘cause I knew what was in the box, but he mistook my effort for wanting petting and opened the box anyway. He reached in, and out came this tiny little black fluff.”

    “Hey, I remember that day! That’s the day you and I met!” The queen rolled her eyes. She thought she’d taught the others their place, but they always seemed to interrupt. “You were so big back then! Man, I saw you and I really got scared. Then they put me behind a big door and I just started exploring. Cat, that room was a MESS! I kept finding new spots to explore. I wanted to see if the rest…”

    “Alright, you liked exploring. But this is about the new box, remember? SHUT UP.” She knew the others would think she was rude for interrupting them, but she was here first, wasn’t she? They interrupted first, didn’t they? “Anyway, for awhile they kept you behind that door and it was ok. I still got almost as much attention as I wanted. But when they let you out, I was terrified. You really made that room stink! What happened in there?”

    The joker (at least that’s what the queen thought of her) looked down at her paws. “I was too excited. I had lots of fun throwing sand around.”

    “Yeah, but what happened after you grew up?”

    The queen was surprised by the joker’s reaction. She was all black, but it seemed like her nose and the pads of her feet turned red. “I got too big. I couldn’t tell if I was in the sandbox or not. And then the people got that covered one, and I couldn’t turn around, and…” The joker felt horrible. She tried. It’s not her fault she was twice as big as the queen. She remembered the humiliation and let out a tiny sob.

    “Whatever. Anyway, I was terrified they wouldn’t pet me anymore. I had to swallow my pride and plop down on their laps. Our person even told the cook ‘look, she loves you!’ Ugh. As if…”

    “Stop calling him that! He’s our person too! The king sat up, hair on his spine rising. He thought of himself as the king, even though he was the youngest in the group and the others still pushed him around and ignored his effort to push them around.

    “Alright, fine, he’s our person too!” The queen had forgotten that he never knew anything different. As the last newcomer, there was never a time to him that the man’s smell didn’t permeate everything. “Anyway, when the rodent died I thought things would be ok. With the guy coming around pretty regularly, me and a little black furball got lots of attention. I thought that’s the way things were going to stay. One day he comes over and picks her up. When they come home, he doesn’t leave! Sure, he goes away for a few days, but he sleeps here now! The bed used to just have the woman and me because the little black furball couldn’t get on it. Suddenly, this little black furball is twice my size! I was even more terrified at first. But slowly I realized we got along. I and you would say hi to each other sometimes, but mostly we slept on different sides of the house. After the guy moved in, you had his legs and I had hers. We were ok. The place was small, but there was one of them to one of us. We were ok.” She misted up a little bit. Yeah, that place was crowded. So much stuff. Only a few rooms. But it was great. Really great. She set her jaw ‘cause she didn’t want the others seeing her reminiscing. Especially since the boy never knew that place.

    “Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the place. We left that place for here and it was amazing. It’s so big here! Really seems like there’s less stuff, too. Our people kept showering love on us, but we could find hiding places if we wanted. And then it happened again. I couldn’t believe it. They wrecked paradise!” She dripped scorn from each word as she said that. She wanted her male subject to know her feelings. She slowly shifted her glare over toward him, but when her eyes beheld him she about lost it. Her amazing, non-verbal disdain for him lost. She did such a good job. Did he catch it? No. He was licking his paw. Probably wasn’t even paying attention. “Fine”, she thought. “No matter where you lay down tonight, I’m kicking you off.” She continued with her story with a sigh. “I had to figure out you, too.” Despite his lack of attention, she wrapped “you” with as much scorn as she could muster. She pointed at the jerk, as she thought of him. He looked up. “Maybe he was paying attention”, she thought, with a satisfied inner smile.

    “Yeah, why did they bring in another? The two of us had this place and our people to ourselves. Sure, there’s that thing with the ears, but it stays in that metal box. No problems from it.”

    The king licked his lips at the mention of that box. He thought to himself, “one day, I’ll get in there. I’ll find out yet how you taste, Mr. Hoppy.”

    The queen hissed. Disruptions. So many disruptions. She couldn’t stand it much more. The hiss wasn’t effective enough. She smacked the jerk with her paw. She thought about smacking the joker, but that one would hiss back. The jerk probably wouldn’t. She was right. He didn’t fight back or run off, but he did start listening again. “I’ve seen pictures of some of those monsters recently. Now that I think about it, I think the guy was trying to choose one. Now they come home with a big, smelly box. Dammit, I think there’s a monster in there. We’re not going to get another moment of peace once that box opens.”

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