Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Cat Curse

This is a bit of creative non-fiction.  It's short and based upon a joke that's been ongoing in my household for years. 

The Cat Curse

Tradition holds that cats are magical creatures.  In ancient days they have been everything from benevolent to wicked and, even today, they appear in films and stories as little tricksters.  Those who have shared their lives with cats can attest to the animals having a special quality about them. 

Not all magic is good magic. 

My love and I live with a cat that’s a bona-fide goddess.  We do not know how aware she is of the extent of her power, but if you don’t believe in curses, this true story is not for you – or maybe it is.  Reading this series of events may make a believer out of you.

My household consists of Bob, Welsper and me.  Welsper is the fiercesome feline.  She can be best described as a quiet little cat, except in the morning when she wants breakfast or when the house is quiet and she thinks she’s alone.  She cries loudly when hungry and loudly when lonely.  She has a strange habit of licking most of the fur off her hindquarters.  Welsper is a neurotic little thing. 

Here is the strange thing:  When one does something to make her very upset, bad things happen. Believe me, bad things happen. 

Bob and I first became aware of the Cat Curse soon after we had moved into a suburban apartment.  I had managed to sell a piece of artwork and the money from that enabled us to pay a rather steep pet-deposit so that we could keep her rather than giving her to a shelter.  It was not a move that took place in happy circumstances, but we were happy not to have to give our kitty up to someone unknown in the end.  Before settling into the new place, Welsper faced off with her arch nemesis – Santa Claus. 

One of the last things we moved out of our old place was the cat – on Christmas Eve.  I held the travel-terrified cat in her carrier on my lap in the car on a cold winter’s night as a fire truck, decked out for one of the local parades and bearing Santa Claus, came past us, blowing all its horns and making the feline even more of a basket-case than she already was.  Clueless, Santa grinned and waved a white-gloved hand at us.  The smell of fear emanated powerfully from the carrier in my arms.   Welsper really was never the same after that…

A few days later, just before the New Year, I was readying myself for morning work.  I had myself a bowl of cereal or oatmeal or something – I forget what, and Bob noticed this while he was getting the cat’s breakfast. 

“You’re eating before the cat,” he said, “You know you’re going to be cursed now.” 

We both laughed at the joke and Bob drove me to work, since he needed my spacious car for the hauling of the last of our junk from the old house to the new or to our storage-locker.  At the time, I worked at a horse farm.  I cleaned stalls, took care of water and fed the animals.  I hadn’t been at the job for long, but it was a kind of work I had done before. It was dirty, low-paid labor that I was nonetheless proud of simply because I knew that the world was full of people too proud to do it.   

The barn boss took me up to the hayloft to show me the difference between different stacks of hay the farm had just got in – not all hay being cut from the same grass, some of it being richer and some if it being more basic feed.  I was the last down the stairs. 

And down the stairs I went.  My boot slipped on a step and I tumbled straight into the concrete floor below.  After my ambulance trip and getting my right arm x-rayed, Bob met me at the hospital and spoke of the feline’s curse from that morning.  Some much-needed laughter followed.  Of course, I fell down the steps because I had the audacity to take my breakfast before the cat was fed so she sent her malice out to ensure me a cracked bone!

As it turns out, I had a bruised kidney, too, and didn’t learn of it until three days later when the pains in my middle became too sharp to ignore.  I went back to the hospital for a few days to get that straightened out.  Could I have had all this trouble just because I ate before the furry little demon?

The Cat Curse became confirmed with many little things after that.  One incident that I remember involved sushi.  I enjoy takeout sushi on occasion.  Typically, when I bring some home, I give the cat a small offering.  I’ll nip off a tiny piece of raw fish with my teeth and give it to Welsper because I like to share and because I find her enthusiastic reaction to it amusing.  If you’ve never given a cat a tiny bit of sushi or sashimi-fish, you should try it… well, unless your vet recommends against it.  We never asked a vet about whether or not Welsper can have the stuff.  All I know is that my cat probably wants to live in Japan.  Maybe that’s what some of her more random meowing as she walks up and down the house is about – she’s demanding an international move to a land where fine fish is plentiful!

One afternoon, Bob and I went to a local Asian supermarket that specializes in Korean foods, but also carries products from all over Asia – Japanese snacks and Chinese food ingredients, tea from Singapore and the like.  They even have a rather nice Mexican food section with things I never thought I’d see after leaving the American Southwest.  For lunch, I’d picked up fresh sushi there, which I ate in the car as we had to get to somewhere else that day and had no time for stopping to eat and share with the cat.   We joked that, since I had not taken my raw fish home to share the obligatory offering with the cat, I had incurred the Cat Curse. 

We laughed it off, but sure enough, the next day we had an issue with our electricity.  Because it was a weekend, the power company did not bother to fix the problem quickly, leaving us for three days in a summer swelter, desperately trying to keep the food in the fridge and freezer chilled down with store-bought ice.  The cat didn’t care.  She had shade.  She didn’t play videogames or use the Internet for entertainment or business.  Her food was pretty much the same every day and came from a can.  I’m sure she enjoyed watching us sweat and suffer.

The latest major incident of the Cat Curse fell upon my birthday.  Two days before, I brought home a spicy tuna roll from a favorite takeout place and completely forgot to invite the cat to lunch with me.  She was asleep in the back room as I enjoyed my fish without giving her the obligatory offering.  The afternoon of my birthday, Bob and I planned to go out to one of the local stores to get fishing licenses so we could go fishing.  It was the one thing I wanted to do on that day, actually. 

Bob let Welsper romp in the backyard until she was naughty and he had to drag her out of an unauthorized hidey-hole.  She scratched him, drawing blood, and was generally full of wrath when she was brought inside.  So, we really should have seen it coming when every store we went to had communication problems with their licensing input-computer systems and the air conditioning in my car quit.  It was the hottest day of the year.  At least I don’t live in Arizona anymore… but Pennsylvania still gets hot, in this case, horrifically so. I was reminded of my former home. 

Eventually, the air started working again and we found out that we could purchase our legal documents for the catching of finned creatures online and print them out at home.  The whole ordeal was still aggravating. 

The Cat Curse. 

As of my writing this, I offended the cat again this week, by failing to let her have a romp outside when she wanted to.  I went fishing that day and tripped in a hole on a creekside trail and hurt my ankle.  

I’m watching the furry little whisker-muffin very carefully. And with suspicion. 

If you have a cat (especially one named after a fictional demon from a comic like ours is), my advice is to treat her well.  Do not eat breakfast before she does and don’t forget, when you have some good fish, to give her an offering.  Trust me; it is better to appease felines than to tempt the dark side of their magic. 


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! I have had 3 kitties, all of them wonderfully different. We joke that my first cat, Spooker (all black) was evil... until he was dying of Diabetes... Then he got nice for a few days. Angus was all white with green eyes and loved to go walking with us when we walked our dog and being rocked like a baby. Tank (13.5 lbs when I got him) was my most recent kitty and died in December. He was my joy during my "hell" time and is sorely missed.