Monday, December 6, 2010


Come closer. I can’t type loud.
It’ll hear me.
And it won’t be good.
For the past two weeks, Anna and her bf, Colby, have been staying with us. Or is it three weeks? Time flies, when your privacy’s been invaded.
The couple is guesting with us, because the apartment they’re moving into is being fixed up, and it’s not quite ready. And may not be for the foreseeable future. I should add something here. The little building their apartment is in belongs to us. We’re the ones fixing it up. And not just for “the next tenant.” It’s our daughter.
Anyone hear the sound of crushing expenditures?
Anyway, that’s nothing. They should only be happy. And I’m frankly invigorated by the infusion of youthful energy into our house. Although, like the war in Afghanistan, a visible “Exit Strategy” would not be unwelcome.
The real concern is is,
They have a cat.
A panther-like, jet-black cat.
They call him Tiki Barber. It’s not racist; it’s an homage. I’ve been told that, as a baby, Tiki had purple eyes. To me, this indicates one thing:
It’s a cat from another planet.
A short review of me and cats. I begrudge no species its rightful place on this earth, but a proximity to cats, without exception, has always made me edgy. I just don’t feel comfortable around them, a fact explained in part by my longstanding belief that if you mistreat a cat, it can go to the phone and call lions.
That self-assured swagger you see in cats? They know they’re holding the winning card.
“Mind your P’s and Q’s, or you’re gonna see teeth and claws.”
My discomfort around cats can be numerically calculated. Years ago, there was this woman who was apparently interested in me. In preliminary conversation, she made known that she had three cats. That pretty much ended things right there.
After that encounter, I constructed a personal evaluation scale. If someone were to make me laugh uncontrollably hard, I would say, “That’s a three-cat joke.” What that means is that that joke is so hilarious, it overcomes the liability of the joke teller’s having three cats.
I’m a fair person. I would not unilaterally rule out someone who had three cats. But they’d have to be monumentally funny.
So far, nobody’s exceeded two.
Okay, I’m meandering a little, for fear that Tiki will pick up on my less than respectful ramblings, and start dialing 1-800-King Of The Jungle.
Owing to the fact that a member of our family is allergic to cat fur, Tiki is not exactly being billeted in the house. Where he is, more precisely, is in the Exercise Room, located next to the house, below our garage.
Here’s the thing. Before “The Teakster’s” arrival, that Exercise Room was primarily mine. I’d work out in there at least four days a week.
Now, I can’t go in there at all.
Why? Two reasons. One, I’ve been told that the noise of the treadmill makes Tiki unhappy. Second, and more importantly, if I were to open the door to the Exercise Room, he would run out. And, possibly, run away. And I’d be blamed for that. Forever. I mean, generationally forever.
“Grandpa, why did you let Tiki run away?”
So now I can’t work out on the treadmill anymore. I had heart surgery. I need my aerobics.
That cat is endangering my health.
I have to walk at the beach now. Can you believe it? Relegated to walking at the beach?
There’s no way I can maintain a sweat-inducing pace walking at the beach. There’s the magnificent view to take in. The attractive skateboarders. Private conversations to eavesdrop on. (This morning’s was this: An elderly man in a wheelchair asked a random male passerby, “What are you doing this weekend? Can I borrow your body?” I have no idea what that was about. I just kept walking.)
Bottom Line: I’ve been banished from my own Exercise Room.
By a cat.
Hold on a second, was that? …. No, it’s nothing.
To be honest, I haven’t been totally banished. When the cat owners have time, they bring the cat inside, entertaining him to their bedroom, while I temporarily reoccupy the place that was once entirely mine. Sometimes, our paths cross, Tiki being carried in, me heading outside to exercise. We’re cordial, but curt. Though there’s no ignoring that telltale smugness that says,
“Wait’ll you get a whiff of the place now.”
Oh, yeah.
It’s definitely a “Cat Place” now. I have to open every window, and close every pore. Big bags of kitty litter, a dish for his food, a bowl for his water – a bowl I used to eat cereal out of –
To the untrained eye, the food and the Kitty Litter don’t look that different. It’s a matter of what’s on top of what in the Litter Box. Sometimes, it appears, Tiki eschews the hygienic advantages of the Little Box, littering, instead, the floor of my Exercise Room.
Wait, did I just hear something? Are they coming for me?
Sorry. It was just the wind.
You can tell I’m a little skittery. I’m alone here right now. And Tiki’s just a few feet away, pacing in his lair.
I can almost feel him, alertly attuned to the slightest slur, his paws tapping nervously on the telephone keypad…
I’m sorry, I have to stop It’s just too dangerous.
Keep your eyes open.. If you read, “Retired Writer Mutilated In Apparent Animal Mauling”
You’ll know
It wasn’t just in my head.


Gary said...

Isn't Tiki the Barber who left his pregnant wife for a younger model? While certainly not the first to do such a thing, being a personality on the Must See Network, it did his reputation no good. According to Wikipedia, Tiki's given name is Atiim Kiambu Hakeem-Ah Barber. That's what you should call the cat, maybe it'll leave faster.

Perhaps the uneasiness in your home will spur the owner to get that remodeling done, tout suite.

YEKIMI said...

Here's what you do: Find someone to bribe that cat. Cats have no loyalty. Have someone offer it a bigger litterbox, better brands of cat food in bigger bags or cans. A plusher cat bed to lounge around in, more expensive chairs with softer fabric to shred with their claws. More potent catnip. Easier-to-catch mice that only put up a token resistance at getting away before their life is ended by a swift chomp to the head. Doesn't matter how long the cat's been with its current owner, it will claw through titanium doors to get to the finer things in life. Just a little whiff of stuff such as that and the cat will be history and you can reclaim your place as king of the workout room....after you spray the place down with a dose of ammonia, bleach and water to kill the cat smell....but even that may not do it. You may have to tear the place down and start all over.