Shaw, O Shaw…Wherefore Art Thou, Shaw?
“Here, kitty, kitty, kitty…!” I cooed, stooping down onto my haunches, hands outstretched in my best come-hither gesture (although I swear, there was nothing sexual about it. I’m not that kind of animal lover). “Where did you come from, buddy?”
The tom looked at me askew as it sauntered parallel to my position, apparently mulling over whether or not I was as trustworthy as I looked. I must have made a good first impression however, or the cat was simply an especially wise judge of character, because after only a brief moment it padded over and sniffed my fingers as though saying, “yeah, I guess you’re cool. Now what can you do for me…?”
“Hey, that’s a good boy….” I whispered, as it allowed me to stroke the top of its head between the ears. “Are you a boy? Or a girl? I don’t know, but you must be new around here, huh? What are you doing out here this time of night…?”
With a couple of short, soft mews it seemed to reply, “Oh, you know…this and that. But now I’m cold, bored, and hungry. You got a nice place I can chill at for a bit and grab some grub…?”
Translating cat speech is one of my specialties by the way.
Realizing in that situation I basically had two choices: one, turn down the cat’s evident plea for refuge and food and continue on toward the store – fairly assured it would follow me all the way down the sidewalk and across the street, or two, take the tom back to the house and give it some of whatever I had in the fridge at the moment. Considering the steady traffic that usually flowed down the street I was about to traverse, and the inherent danger it potentially represented for any roaming animal (I’d already witnessed one black cat get slammed head on by a car one night the prior year), my conscience quickly dissuaded me from going with the first option. So home it was.
Oh, the things I do for king and country. And wayward cats.
Enticing the feline traveler back to the house turned out to be even easier than I hoped – all I really had to to do was start walking while occasionally sharing a few words of encouragement here and there. Apparently, it already had its mind made up about finding new digs to lay down its new stakes. I wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t the first animal (cat or dog) to stumble unexpectedly across my path and wind up trailing me back home like a happy sidekick. I won’t venture to guess why, and not meaning to seem pompous in any way, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve always literally had a certain kind of animal magnetism that cats and dogs instinctively feel drawn to (presuming of course their motives aren’t to chew my nose off or rend me from limb to limb).
“Alright, buddy, just hang back here for a sec,” I said after we got back home, opening my front door. “I’m just gonna zip inside real quick to see if I can find something you might actually eat.”
Halting at my door step, my furry guest lifted its head and peered up at me as though saying, “But it’s cold out here, dude…Invite me in.”
Now, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t do just that. The explanation is simply that, as much as I felt for and wanted to help the cat, I still wasn’t fully committed at that moment. You know how it is. Once a host – especially a good host – welcomes a guest into their home, you feel particularly more obligated to go a certain distance to accommodate their basic needs as such. This is sometimes even more true I think when the said guest is a stranger who appears to have been out of sorts for a while and needs some personal attention. And to be blunt, it’s easier to exonerate oneself of guilt over not toasting those extra two slices of bread or agreeing to let someone use your bath when you never let them inside your place. And I wanted time to think through exactly how many miles I was willing and prepared to run to change the structure of this cat’s and my own life. As stringent as it may have been, maintaining that physical border gave me the space and time I sought. I mean, I obviously had a clear idea of where this situation was already heading. But I at least needed to pretend as though I hadn’t yet made up my mind.
Ironically enough, every step I took toward the refrigerator and then back out to the driveway where my new friend still patiently waited only further cemented the inevitability of what my brain kept trying to slam the brakes on while my heart was cutting the fuel line that ran to them. By the time I stepped opened the front door again and stepped back outside with a plate full of Thanksgiving dinner turkey slices, my will had caved and I was already thinking about all the stuff I was going to have to buy again to take care of my new boarder.
Looking down at the tom as I held the plate of turkey, I contemplated the fact that I was about to once more in my life trade a part of my freedom away in the impending arrangement. Watching as the brown and white visitor from wherever peered up at me with its pitiful eyes, I sighed.
“Okay, cat. You win,” I ceded. “Now here’s the deal….”
To be continued
Cat, Why Hath Thou Defiled My Sofa and Called Me A Racist? Part III
(Scheduled Post Date: Feb. 12, 2018)
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