Friday, April 2, 2010
A letter for Dummy.
Sometimes when I’m watching you climb inside a plastic bag, I am flooded with a maternal sense of pride and an intense, sickening love for you - the way that I might feel watching my first-born son take its first steps and moon-walking within minutes. (As I’ve edited this, it has come to my attention that I refer to the hypothetical son taking ‘its’ first steps, not ‘his’. As it turns out, this will support my general realization.)
There are many times I want to follow you around with a camera and share your feline charm with the world. The thought of you conjures more of that emotion they call love than even the most sentimental thoughts of my family or friends. But in the end, perhaps I don’t understand what this concept of maternal instinct and love as much as I thought I did because quite simply, I just don’t love you that much.
You slept outside last night, probably wrapped in the garden tarp thinking about how careless and inconsiderate I am. You must have slipped out in the midst of our nocturnal gardening campaign, and clearly I didn’t notice your absence. Locked out from food, water, and hygiene! (But really, you’re a fucking animal.)
Other times I can think of when you were either locked “in” or “out” because of our human door fetish, you made me proud by either throwing your body violently against a door to knock forcefully, or by peeing on my roommate’s back to alert him that he’s blacked out and locked you inside his room- one without a pebbled toilet. You can roll with the punches, and I like it.
Approximately three years ago, your biological mother gave birth to you and somehow found your way to the most unsavory house of squalor and debauchery, hiding under the bed with your brothers and sisters. Who knows how many days you’d been on this earth before your cute, baby ears heard my slurred voice yell, “I want one!”
“You can have that one. Nobody wants that one.” I was told. You played hard to get as I tried to worm my drunken body under a bed that was most likely infested with bed bugs and pirate hookers. A small gray ball of fluff, you were. I never put a collar on you, but it was an unspoken contract that I was trying to “own” you. (I was about to start comparing this feeling to owning your first car, but you’ve never driven a car so it just won’t make sense. Maybe it’s time I kidnap you and make you drive around in the pick-up truck. You’d be the luckiest cat in the world.)
I’ve often wondered what we would have named you if the night had transpired differently, but DJ and I “time traveled” you home late that night. As a term of endearment, he called you Dummy and our booze-addled minds let it lie. When I awoke and saw you the next morning, I panicked. I don’t know shit about cats because I was raised with doggy convictions. I remember the first time we left you home alone as a baby, DJ put a movie called Young Guns on the television for you and told me that you would like it. I wonder if you watched the whole movie or just fell asleep like usual. Hours later, it was probably your first experience in a cloud of whiskey breath. (Yet another random tangent, I think we should watch Tom and Jerry together sometime. I imagine you’ll root for the mouse because Jerry is badass.)
Months later, I was a single mother and all I knew is I would raise you like a puppy and you would not be spoiled. As I’ve never purchased one of those lame pink fishing poles covered with feathers, you’ve become the resourceful cat I hoped for, spending hours crawling in and out of plastic bags and running circular laps at breakneck speeds. Basically, you’re generally doing something awesome. I wasn’t going to mother one of those perverted-looking cats they have in those commercials for pretentious feline feasts in a can. If you had cable television, I know that you feel that the media stereotypes and presents your species as a spoiled, uppity brat who brushes her white fur two hundred times a day and turns its nose at anything less than a fresh trout fillet covered in “chicken gravy”. Wet food, that’s just nasty. Plus, I couldn’t possibly have a fat cat, now could I? You didn’t seem to like the lasagna I tried to feed you, so I think you like to keep yourself trim too. You’ve had that stinky wet food before though, remember? After I left you starving for days? Pure guilt is funny. Forgot something important like food and water? Just take the kid to McDonald’s to make up for it. Fuck, you don’t know what McDonald’s is. It’s the company that makes that wet mound of slop that makes you have sickly poops later on. The recipe is essentially same for both humans and cats.
And yes, I see your poops. One of my few published articles was led by a sentence about how I sometimes feel high for a second while I’m scooping your litter box. (It’s because I hold my breath for so long.) With a human baby, you clean its turds for the first few years. It’s an intimate thread in a relationship with someone you’re caring for. Yelling at an unruly teenager, I would say, “ Because I said so? NO. Because I cleaned your POOP, you stupid punk.” And with you, my first-born cat, I will sift your poops out of that box for years to come and there is no end in sight.
There are many times I know that I am a bad mother to you. Though I can verbalize my love for you to all my human friends, the reality is that my words speak louder than my actions, which many times don’t exist at all. When you walk across my keyboard when I’m typing, I have picked you up and tossed you across the room without batting an eye. I think you like it, and not because you’re masochistic but because I am paying ANY kind of attention to you at all- even if it is hurtful and insensitive. I notice that sometimes you flinch when I’m walking by- typical behavior of a physical-abused child.
When I thought you broke your foot and the vet took x-rays, they sent us home with vials of meat-flavored opiates. I hated being judged for bringing you in my arms, without a carrying crate and they refused to let me take you home without one and the only one left was that disgusting pink crate. We both hated it, I know. Turns out you were just being wild and dislocated your ‘ankle’ when you were jumping around all willy-nilly like. You were clearly not in pain and meat-flavored opiates are such a novelty opportunity, you understand that I had to commandeer them for entertainment’s sake.
It’s not you, it’s me. Talking about feelings is great, but only as long as they’re not mine. Remember that time a few years ago that dude wanted to extend a romantic gesture for Valentine’s Day and because he sensed how emotionally inept I am, he recorded a song for you instead? He chose his words carefully as he described you, and more than that, sang about my love for you. I imagine he’s made many lady friends since then. How clever.
This could go on forever and I’ve forgotten what my point was. You are my special animal, Dummy. I’m sorry if you’re ever disappointed with me when I forget you are alive. It’s the thought that counts, I’ve been told. I love you very much, and I don’t think you are retarded or have an attitude problem or any of those other things I say to you in human English. And I’m sorry that you think that you have an adjective as a first and last name, that sucks.
P.S. Let me know if you think it’s necessary that you have a rabies shot. You know how I feel about it, but it’s your call. I think you’re mature enough to make this decision. Just remember that if we must go to that place again, I told them your name was Dummitrius, so it didn’t seem like I was a person with no respect for my pet’s sense of pride. And that's obviously just not the case.