Time to Get Back to the Trivial

You know, I think a sure sign that I’m getting older (or at least crankier) is that I don’t really care about tonight’s Redskins/Jets season opener, but would rather watch the Democratic presidential candidate debate. I was going to make a little running commentary, but frankly I’m a little burned out on the political talk (I am working on a little point-by-point statement on my justification for supporting Dean, but until I’m finished with that, I think I’m going to cool it on the political front for a while).

So, time for something that has no impact whatsoever outside of my own house. I rationalize this by claiming it “humanizes” me, but frankly, I figure it just gives people a break from my otherwise nonstop ranting. Either way, it probably doesn’t do a whole lot of harm.

I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but we’ve got three cats. Count ’em, three. Okay, let’s get the laughing out of the way right now.

All done? Okay, let me provide a little explanation. I grew up as a dog person. My family’s always had dogs, but at least in the past couple of decades, they’ve been small dogs. Specifically, Scottish terriers. Pam’s theory is that small-dog people are just cat people waiting to happen. But whatever the rationale, with the small apartment Pam and I were first in — and frankly, even in our first townhouse — having a dog didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Besides, I’ve always figured that hell, Blofeld had a cat; I’m fine with it.

The first cat Pam and I had as a couple was Phoebe. Phoebe was gorgeous; Pam had seen her at a cat show SPCA display, and we made a special trip to the Maryland shelter just to see her. We left with her that evening. No regrets; Phoebe was wonderful. She was a cherished companion for several years. In the end, after a protracted deterioration in health — I won’t mince words here — we had to have her euthanized, a decision which, though I still recognize as the correct one, was absolutely agonizing.

Our second cat, Sasha, is to this day my cat. Now, she was supposed to be Pam’s — Pam had picked her from the litter (belonging to a stray cat Pam’s mom had taken in). But perhaps because I took more direct care of Sasha as a kitten, she and I developed a special bond. Now that’s a good thing and a bad thing. I love Sasha, but... in a nutshell, she’s completely neurotic. She hides all day long, and comes out only at night, desperate for attention, right when I’m trying to get to sleep. She’s fine with Pam, and she’s getting a little better with the kids, but not a whole lot.

Now when we picked up our next cat, Chloë, I... well, I hosed myself in the cat-care arena. Chloë — at maybe six weeks old — we discovered at two o’clock in the morning in a suburban Fairfax street; and I mean, literally in the street. We tried to discover a previous owner (her condition clearly indicated that she had been in a home), but to no avail. Pam’s solution was to find her a new home, and we started down that road. But, see, here’s where I screwed up: I couldn’t give Chloë away; I’d grown too attached to her. So in my typical shortsighted manner, I made a deal: If we could keep Chloë, I’d take responsibility for cleaning up after the cats. All of them. In perpetuity.

Damn, I’ve got to start thinking ahead.

Okay, in the global scheme of things, cleaning up after cats isn’t nearly as bad as any number of other responsibilities inherent in keeping a home. But still, it ain’t exactly fun — particularly given Phoebe’s health problems in her last few years (part of me still feels guilty at the decrease in effort after her passing).

And then our daughter wanted her “own” kitten. We were able to put her off for a while — after all, she was a little young to take care of a kitten. Not to mention her younger sister, who would be even less so. And then, a little over a year ago now, one of her friends’ cats had a litter of kittens. Long story short... another cat entered our family: Lily. And she’s absolutely wonderful; playful, friendly, great with the kids. Do I regret bringing her into our home? No, not in the least. But still...

Three (now full-grown) cats means a lot of shit to shovel.


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