Saturday, December 11, 2010

Max the Clever

When I resided in West Los Angeles I lived in an apartment building of two stories and sixteen units. One of the tenants had a cat they called Max. Max I suppose was diminutive of Maximilian.

Max was a big Manx cat; a member of the breed with the bobbed tails. He was a full figured big beautiful short haired dark tabby (FFBBSHDT). Max was allowed out of his home to survey the neighborhood for prey and frequently showed up at my doorstep to ask to be let inside for the purpose of inspecting my apartment for the presence of mice.

I would be typing at my computer, working on a computer program, a hobby I pursued after work hours, when I would hear a gentle pawing sound at my door. It was Max. He had shown up on my doorstep many times before, asking to be let in to inspect. Without thinking I would drop what I was doing and open the door and Max would enter and proceed.

He followed the same path every time. A left turn took him past me and into the kitchen, from there to the bathroom, from there to the spare bedroom, from there to the bedroom, from there back into the living room and a quick peek behind the sofa, and finally back to the door. By then I had returned to my programming, but upon hearing his pawing at the inside of my door, I would rise to accommodate his request for the door to be opened, and his duty done he would exit. About an hour later he would show up once again at my doorstep, paw at the door, the door would be dutifully opened, he would make the same tour and soon be back at the door requesting to be let out once again. The process repeated itself many times each night for months, until one night I finally became cognizant that I was in a loop.

At that instant I realized that Max would show up with a period of one hour and repeat the same exercise four of five times a night. I wondered what was it he was up to? And so I watched.

Max showed up, repeated his usual exercise of inspecting my apartment, and was let out but this time I followed him, and I watched as he hurried his plump body up the stars to the most extreme apartment. Where he sat himself down, and pawed at the door. There was a pause, and the door opened. Max stepped in, and the door closed. I waited, a minute or two, and the door opened and Max would exit. He then proceeded to the next apartment on his agenda. Sat down, pawed at the door, the door opened, he was let in, a pause, the door would open, and he would be let out. I watched as he proceeded along the walkway, bypassing doors he had learned would not open, down the steps to the ground-floor apartments, until he once again arrived at my apartment, looked up at me, gave me a waggle of his bobbed tail, politely meowed, and sat on my doorstep.

His circuit of the apartment building had taken about one hour. He repeated the circuit four times each evening which completed his evening. He had, in effect, trained the entire building of apartment dwellers to entertain him in his efforts to rid the world of the wily mouse. He turned to look at me and meowed politely as if to ask, "Why is this door not opening?" The door opened and we both walked in.

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