Archives for posts with tag: cat

Last year, my family and I moved to a lovely town called Brookline, just outside Boston. The perks of leaving New York City continue to flow. We can breathe in the air around us without choking. It’s a short drive to Maine. And we’re no longer bleeding cash.

But I miss New York. Its intensity and creative energy. I miss the anonymity of living in a big city. Boston is comparatively provincial, and though I’m all for making new friends, I don’t really want my neighbors poking their heads into my business.

You see, there’s a middle-aged Russian lady in our ‘hood who regularly bangs on our front door to say hi.

Her mission? To return our cat Viktor from his daily walkabouts. She’ll find Viktor somewhere and bring him home, banging on the front door in the middle of the day to announce his return, causing me to stop mid-salted-caramel-ingestion and think to myself,”Who the f@!% is that?” and momentarily contemplate being axed to death, before I realize it’s probably the Russian Cat Lady.

I will open the door and there she will stand, holding Viktor in her arms. Typically, our conversations go like this:

“He has come home, my dearrrrr,” she’ll say, rolling her r’s like a Checkhovian pro.

“Thanks!” I’ll reply, thinking Listen, he’s a cat, he’ll come home, he always does, please don’t worry about him and bang on my door in the middle of the day like a crazed UPS delivery person in need of meds.

“Have you ever thought about putting in a cat flap?” she’ll ask.

“No!” I’ll reply smiling,  thinking I’ve thought about a lot of things lately, Cat Lady, but cat flaps ain’t one of them. Try saving for our kids’ college accounts and finding a writing job with decent pay. Though you might be right…there have been numerous reports of coyotes and raccoons in the area. Is Viktor prepared for battle?

“It was so sweet the way I found him,” she’ll continue. “He was rrrrubbing up against my leg, and I thought it might be the missing cat from the posters on the street, so I checked his collar. He is so frrrriendly. It is as if he rrrrrecognized me!”

“I know, isn’t he sweet?” I’ll reply, thinking: Are you trying to tell me he needs more attention? Listen Cat Lady, why don’t you try remembering to freshen his water bowl when you have a 2-year-old clawing at your leg for “More wawa please” every 5 seconds?

So imagine my surprise, when last week at the public garden down the street from our home, I spied Ms. From Russia with Love for Cats. A sunny, 4:30 in the afternoon, I was with Miss B, watching her play in the giant sand pit, when I noticed Cat Lady sitting on a nearby bench. As I squinted, trying to figure out whether it was actually her, I noticed she was swigging something out of a bottle that looked remarkably like a Heineken.

Gasp! Shock! Horror! An open container near my 2 year old! I knew there was more to her story. She is a lush!

I texted hubby, who advised me to “Make a citizen’s arrest.”

And then,

“Not a good influence on Viktor.”

Ha!

And then I realized. It’s happening. I have just taken the perilous first step to becoming the very person I loathe: a nosey, hypocritical puritan!  Give this poor woman a break — she’s from Russia!  She probably brushes her teeth with vodka!

In that moment, I realized that it doesn’t matter who my neighbors are and whether I live in a small town in Kansas or the top of a skyscraper in Dubai. I’ve got to remember to take New York with me. It’s OK to embrace the odd animal-loving nosey parker…as long as I don’t become one myself.

After all, Perhaps Cat Lady is Viktor’s guardian angel in disguise. She might save Viktor’s life one day (sniff). 

The next time she drops off Viktor, I’ll invite her in for a beer.

It’s midnight when you first hear the scratching and scurrying under the bedroom floor.

You lie in bed awake as your children sleep in the next room and hubby snores gently by your side.

Your mind runs wild and your heart beats faster. Is there an intruder in the basement? A madman, hatching a dastardly plan to put a pox on your family?

You realize you’re being ridiculous. You must curtail your vivid imagination. That has you holidaying with George Clooney and swapping wardrobes with Cate Blanchett.

The noise must be a little creature. One of those furry animals who belong in the woods.

A mouse.

And you know it’s irrational, because you are a gazillion times bigger than that sweet, brown furry creature, but you’re deathly afraid. Your heart starts pumping faster and beads of sweat dribble down the sides of your face.

You wake hubby, shaking him by the shoulders.

“What’s happened?” he cries out, alarmed.

“There’s a creature, a mouse, in the house,” you reply in a deathly whisper.

“Oh,” he says. And rolls over, closing his eyes.

You are alone.

Your cat, Viktor, lies curled at the foot of your bed. Asleep. Your only hope.

Viktor has been your faithful pet for five years, ever since you and hubby rescued him from the pound. He’s perfect. Handsome. Not too demanding. Tolerant of your children.

But he has one fatal flaw.

He is a pacifist.

You hope he will swoop down, thrust his claws under the floorboard, and murder the critter.

You fall asleep, dreams plagued by visions of giant vultures.

The next morning, there is silence.

Soon after you’ve put Baby B down for her nap, you hear it again. More scuffling.

You scream “Fuck!” and inadvertently disturb your sleeping child, who wakes up crying.

You know you have to pull it together. You are a grown up, for God’s sake.

You turn to Viktor, goading him to fulfill his Darwinian destiny.

“KILL, VIKTOR!” you command. “GET THAT MOUSE! NOW!”

Viktor looks at you and sidles up to the crack between the floorboards above the scuffling sound. He peers in, tentatively. His expression seems to say, “Why on earth does this woman want me to exert any more energy than I absolutely have to? For pity’s sake, please chill.”

Then he yawns, and trots upstairs for a Science Diet fix.

The pacifist has spoken.

And the scuffling continues, taunting you.

You realize, with a heavy heart, that the time has come. You must curb your instinct to flee. You  must face your fears.

You walk, slowly, slowly, towards the noise. Taking deep breaths. Your mantra: You are bigger. It is smaller. You are bigger. It is smaller.

You peer in. And see a little nose pointing towards you, whiskers twitching.

“It’s pretty cute, actually,” you think.

But you want it dead.

You place a box of B’s toys over the offending crack and frantically tape up all holes in nearby floorboards, hoping this will deter the creature from thinking it’s invited into your bedroom.

The scuffling noise goes away.

You let out a breath.

You call hubby to relay the details of your bravery. Hubby grew up in nature, and cannot understand your phobia. Hubby thinks mice are cute. This is a bone of contention.

You rack your brain for an explanation of the mouse’s presence. You need to know. Hubby reminds you that Baby B threw up the other night. In the crack, as we held her.

Mice like food.

Even if it’s regurgitated, apparently.

Riddle solved, you continue to encourage Viktor’s dormant inner rage. You try catnip and tickling him under his chin.

But this pacifist won’t be bribed. Viktor has his morals. His integrity.

A few days later, the scuffling sound has gone. You know the mouse must still be somewhere in the vicinity.

But out of sight out of mind.

You pat yourself on the back for weathering the storm.

Though your pet  has let you down, he has also been an agent of personal growth. You have finally faced your fear and stared the beast in the face.

And with a face like this, how could you ever complain?