September 30, 2008

Cat People

I had a super shitty day at work yesterday. I went home pissed off and blasted lots of loud music for several hours, then finally passed out and had a sound 6-hour night's sleep.

I woke up with a different attitude. Believe me, it's far from an optimistic one, but just the fact that I got up and got ready which the intention of going back to my job instead of tossing in the towel is an improvement from the night before. I'm still angry, and disappointed, but I think I have some priorities and objectives to now realign and reclassify. Either way, I think I need a day of silence. A little peace before action.

I walked down the stairs and out the door. It may have rained last night. I don't know--I don't have a window in my bedroom. Definitely a cool September day, but I left my jacket in the car the night before. I clicked my keys to unlock the Honda across the street in front of the vacant lot. Normally this action is an alarm clock for the pair of stray cats that live on block, and always seem to sleep under my car. I crossed the street trying to figure out what music I would listen to on the way to work now that my non-iPod came back to life.

I knew one of the cats was under the car. I saw his outline. I knelt down and peeked under. It was the orange and black one, and he was still sleeping. Well I don't really know if he is a he. I always assume that when I see two cats that one is a boy cat and the other is a girl cat. I just learned that how false this assumption was last week when the RoBeastress told me that Pooka, (one of Kirk and Cindy's cats I had been taking care of while they were on vacation) was a girl, not a boy like I insisted. I've known Pooka and her sister Zoe (who I correctly believed was a girl) for 4 or 5 years now and have probably heard her referred to as "her" a million times, but I just put a complete mental block on her gender. Part of it is probably due to my obsession with symmetry and the inability of my brain to perceive Kirk as outnumbered 3-to-1 in the household, but Pooka is a girl's name for chrissakes! I was in complete denial.

I was also in denial that the stray cat under my car was dead. I whistled at him and begged him to wake up. I used to have a cat that was an alarmingly heavy sleeper. When he was a kitten, he used to dream and twitch in his sleep and it scared the shit out of me. I would shake him and he would sleep right through it. Then he would just wake up and look at me as if I were crazy.

I was afraid to touch the stray though. I've wanted to pet him so bad in the 3 and a half years we've lived on the block together, but I think we both knew that wasn't going to happen. I'm horribly allergic to cats as it is, but who knows what diseases these mangy strays have living under their claws? The two cats were always together though and took care of whatever physical affection each other needed, without any help from humans. And someone on the block, I don't know who, always put out some vittles for them a couple times a week. And if they weren't happy with that, there was always the Vietnamese restaurant a few doors down.

I got in the car and turned it on in vain. He didn't wake up.

I just finished watching Less Than Zero last night, and knew how it was going to end as soon as I put it on. A young Robert Downey, Jr. , estranged from his family with no regular place to stay, easily falls prey to the dangers of the streets. He's charming and pleasant to his acquaintences, but he's caught in a cycle that has a predictable and inevitable finish. He was a human stray.

In Art and Life, I guess I can't really claim to be surprised by this outcome either. Maybe just far from optimistic, still angry, disappointed...

Here he is in happier times. RIP Kitty Kat.

1 comment:

Kirk said...

To be fair, when Pooka was a newborn kitten, the person we adopted her from wasn't even sure if she was male or female. And her behavior is more typically male than female from a human gender perspective. She is the more aggressive of the two cats and tends to be kind of a bully toward her sister Zoey. And Zoey is the prettier of the two, so it makes sense that you would assume Pooka was male.

I tend to assume all dogs are male and all cats are female. I think that's just me grafting human gender stereotypes onto animals.