Monday, April 9, 2012

Wayward Cat

The sound of cowboys celebrating in the distance slowly rustled me from my sleep. Still drifting in half dream, I thought, “How wonderful, cowboys here, now, whooping it up. I’ll invite them into my yard, where they can build a campfire that throws sparks to the stars and they’ll share their whisky with me, and their horses tied up outside can munch the grapevines that drape the fence and we shall have a great time.” But I awoke instead to the realization of a pack of coyotes celebrating with their song and I was pinched with worry for my cat, Legs.
Legs-cat is my big Tom. I entrust him to the night, which I trust he can survive. He posts guard, primarily on the rooftop where he is master of all he can survey and the terror of the mice and rats that scurry beneath. Each morning I find him peering through the lights of my patio window. I slide the door open and he marches in, triumphant, bypassing the lowly cat-port I'd already opened. He greets me with a friendly, “mee-aargal”, and a tail twitter. Always surprised to see him in one piece, I swoop him up and playfully launch him through the air, onto a table where he lands next to his food bowl. “Welcome home bozo.”

But this morning he was not present. I worried. Were the happy yippings of last night’s coyote celebration in honor of his dismemberment? Did they play tug-o’-war with his body? Would I ever find evidence of his demise beyond hair filled scats on the road to my house, a dim echo of, “This is what we think of you White-Man?” The thought caused me to cringe with guilt for not having cared enough to chase him into the house before I settled into sleep. But I also knew he had the habit of disappearing and reappearing after a brief absence. I have speculated on these disappearances.

Perhaps he has an alternate home. The residences here are spaced at a distance of about one-quarter mile which I have heard is the range of most tom-cats. I imagine him, the suave, handsome cat-on-the-make being invited into someone’s home if not for an admiring petting, then perhaps for the sake of his safety. Kept inside all night in the name of his security against the roaming coyotes, I speculate my neighbors would release him the next morning. 

Or what is more likely, toss him out as he would have by then, no doubt, made himself domestic and would very probably be happy to remain so until prompted to leave with a great heave of his substantial weight through an open door and the admonishment, “Go home!” Landed safely on his four paws, he would respond with an amiable, “mee-aargal” and a tail twitter and hustle into the desert, through the white-thorn and the paint-brush to his primary base--my home. His tail held high, I picture him as he would march his stout carriage with direct intent, as there were no rodents at that time of day to distract him, nor any birds slow enough to be made breakfast. Alternatively, I imagine him treed by a coyote or bobcat. But a quick scan of the four or five mesquites nearby of any size, able to bear his weight, told no tale of any cat.

I checked the interior of the tool sheds and found no cat stashed, and the roof and the gutters too are cat free.

So, typically he waits each morning, draped on my porch, for his chance to re-enter, to eat a bit of chow, to mark time, take a nap.

Though he failed to show this morning and I left for work steeped in worry, I have now returned and am relieved to find Legs, in the here-and-now, draped upon a table. I greeted him with a friendly, “mee-aargal” and he stood and responded with a “mee-aargal“, in kind, and a tail twitter. Legs, the wayward cat, has returned, expectant of praise. Now I do not worry--until the next time.

I have grown too curious about his comings and goings so I asked Legs for clarification and he insisted everything should be on the record. The following is a transcript of his interview that covered a number of subjects.

I named him after Legs Diamond the ‘30’s era Chicago gangster. Legs has particular difficulties with my other male cat, Peoples.

Me: You understand, of course, that what is said here is on the public record?

Legs: I ain’t got nuttin' to hide.

Me: You have been accused of many transgressions by your associate Peoples-cat, whom refers to you as “Enemy-cat”.

Legs: Peoples is a shrimp in more then one way. He’s da reason I got da cognomen “Nick”.

Me: Come again, what was the cause?

Legs: Cause of da nick I put in ‘is ear, dats why. You got a problem wit dat?

Me: Actually sir, you go by a number of such devices, the following being a short list: Trouble, Hey You!, Pssssst, Bitie, Stinky, Rat-Catcher, and Coyote-Bait. And last but not least Snuggles? Could you explain the latter?

Legs: Ahhh--look, jes’ cause I come into yer bedroom late at night an' in da pitch dark, lay my head down in yer hand and fall asleep, don’t mean I’m yer snuggle cat--O.K.? Or maybe you got a problem wit dat?

Me: No, no problem here. But what about the excursions that take you several days away from the house. Where are you staying during those absences?

Legs: Look, I’m a cat, O.K.? I got secrets, un’nerstand? What self-respect’n cat would reveal to da ogling public all its mystery? Dats wat we’re known fer, mystery! Or, maybe you got a problem wit dat?

Me: But, where do you go and where do you stay? I worry about you.

Legs: Don’t worry, don’t worry. O.K., O.K. I’ll give ya a clue. There’s territory to be marked an' kitties to be sniffed--nuf said. I’m a male cat. Or maybe you got a problem wit dat?

Me: Alright, but you must understand I worry about you out there among the coyotes.

Legs: Damned coy-otes. Bunch of interference run’n pests. Don’t worry ‘bout me I can handle dem fools. I got their game plan in ma head, see? Not a problem.

Me: You’re getting old--time passes. Will there ever be a time to slow
down and become--well more domestic?

Legs: Ya mean hit da showers? Are you kiddin’ me? HaHa! I’m a TOMCAT ya fool get it straight! Well maybe--maybe some day with the right kitty. If ya know what I mean.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

An Insight Into the Character of Rush Limbaugh

Some time ago, I had the misfortune of working outside while someone down the street had Rush Limbaugh blaring from the radio. Why do some people feel the need to broadcast their propaganda to the entire world? Rush was in full throat and carrying on as only he can in his characteristically pompous manner. I could not escape torment, as I had work to perform. Fortunately for me, the radio was at such a distance that I could not make out his words in a literal sense but could only understand the tone and intent.

For a brief while I was a bit like a dog; a dog doesn't understand words in a literal sense. They understand the tone of their person's voice and through practice can learn to respond to particular tones, that we call orders, in a particular way. There are people, known as aphasics, who have suffered damage to their brains that result in the loss of their ability to understand the literal meaning of words. Such persons are able to understand the words of people with whom they are close and so they can function to a limited degree. There's a very interesting chapter in “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” by Oliver Sacks entitled “The President's Speech,” that is worth reading for its insights into the affliction.

So, I was briefly aphasic. I could not, at that distance, understand the literal meaning of the words Rush was uttering but could only glean their emotional content; what came across was very clear and very disturbing. What I heard was the sound of a small, sniveling, whining child, leveling against its parents some long suffered and painfully felt grievance. The message was simple but very clear and most obnoxious. While I felt afflicted to some degree, I also felt an odd mixture of shock, and amusement, and to a slight degree sympathy for the plight of the suffering child to whom I was compelled to listen. I kept puzzling, “What could have caused that poor child such injury?”

Unfortunately for me, I could not escape the sound. I completed my task as rapidly as was possible.