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THIS WEEK’S PROMPT: pat/pet/pit/pot/put
Remember that children’s book, Pat The Bunny? When you first saw it, did you think, as I did, that the bunny’s name was Pat? I was hoping for a whole series, e.g. Mike The Moose, Ricky The Rhino, Alfred The Mongoose, etc. I can just imagine the rabbit talking: “Yeah, I’m Pat. Pat the bunny. It’s my name. Try and pat me, I’ll kick your ass! Got it?”
Seriously, if I had a pet bunny, I’d name it Pat. And I’ll bet I’d have to explain it to everyone, too.
Mary and I have had cats ever since before we were married. I lost count at three dozen, over 37 years. That’s about a cat a year. In fact, the only time we had an only cat in the house was our first one. We named her Kismet, because we got her from Mary’s maid of honor, whose last name was like Kismet. The name evolved to Kitty Face, as in “Kitty Face! You’ve got the cutest little Kitty Face!” We had her for a long time, almost twenty years. She and I didn’t like each other very much at first; growing up with a mother who hated cats, I had to get over the negative programming. After a while, though, we became very good friends. When we lived in Chicago, our stove was right next to the door, and she would sleep on it, between the burners. When I would come home, she would sit up and cry and carry on, and I’d say “Oh, poor Kitty Face! Was Mary mean to you today? Didn’t she give you any attention?” The reality was, she had been lying on the stove all day and totally ignoring Mary. But it was like our little ritual.
She made the trip south with us, she and the other four we had at the time. Three were from the same litter, and we named them Moe, Larry, and Curly. Curly was a bit psychotic… after all, she was a tortie. Torties are the redheads of the cat world.
Nah, I shouldn’t say that. On my dad’s side of the family, most of my cousins are redheads. Mom always said that I should have been a redhead, because my skin is fair and I have lots of freckles, and I burn really badly if I stay in the sun too long. My hair was kind of reddish, and when I grew a mustache it was kind of red. The hair we don’t talk about is definitely red. And, if you look at my eighth grade picture, my hair looks very red. Although, I can’t tell if it’s red because it was reddish, or if the chemicals in the film have changed color over the last 45 years.
Now, of course, I’m mostly gray, and my beard is white. Oh well, at least I have most of my hair.
When Mary started seeing white hairs pop up, she decided that she’d dye her hair red — okay, more like dark auburn. After a while, she got tired of doing it every month, and let it go back to its natural color. And, you know, she got more compliments when she did. And I liked it better, and she was happy not to have to fuss with it…
I had been talking about the cats. Anyway, of Moe, Larry, and Curly, Larry lived the longest. Moe and Curly died the same year my stepfather and grandmother did. 1992 was a really crappy year. Larry held on a couple of months after his 20th birthday, then his kidneys gave out. The day we sent him to The Bridge, the guy next door came over with three boxes of kittens who were born to feral mothers. He worked in a scrap yard, and the cats lived there. Mary and I had been talking about letting the number of cats we had dwindle, but when Mary saw all the kittens, she picked up two that looked like Larry and said, “We’ll take these two.” It wasn’t until we brought them in and set them down that we realized they hadn’t been weaned, so we ended up bottle-feeding them. We named them Homer and Jethro, after the comedy-musical act best known for such hits as “The Battle of Kookamonga” and “How Much Is That Hound Dog In The Window?”
They had real different personalities. Homer directed his aggression outward and would go around deviling the others, especially at night when we were trying to go to sleep. Jethro, on the other hand, directed his aggression inward, on more than one occasion licking the hair off his privates. It was so bad that he had to wear The Cone Of Shame. Jethro died at home a few years ago, but Homer’s still around, and he’s settled down a lot. He’ll be 13 on April 1. Actually, we don’t know when he turns 13; we got him at the end of April and the vet estimated he was four weeks old. So we decided on the birthday.
One day, I’ll have to write about all of our cats, more to remember them myself.
You know, they talk about the Rainbow Bridge, where deceased pets go to wait for their owners to come and take them into Paradise. I’m counting on it being there. If they aren’t there waiting for me, I’m not going in.