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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Where's Waldo?

This is my daughters cat, Tuxedo (Tux for short), wearing his Christmas Sweater. Thing 1 thinks he looks very dapper and quite festive in this little ensemble ... kind of like a walking candy cane! Personally, I think he looks like ”Where’s Waldo?”.

Every time I see him wearing this, I’m tempted to put him in a room full of candy canes and brightly wrapped Christmas packages, take his picture, and submit it for use in one of those “I SPY” books!

Don’t let the scholarly look of the sweater or the contemplative expression fool you ... Tux is, bar none, THE dumbest cat in the world. The kids love him, but they acknowledge that this particular cat is severely lacking in intellectual and social skills. But, what he lacks in brains, he more than makes up for in energy.

We’ve had other cats before ... Mr. Whiskers and Maggie ... so we know what normal cats are like ... and Tux is undoubtedly not normal. Mr. Whiskers was a very wise cat, much like Mufasa from the Lion King ... and Maggie was just plain sweet. Mr. Whiskers and Maggie didn’t have their own wardrobe like Tux does, but that doesn’t mean they were immune to this particular fetish of their young human captors. The girls had an extensive wardrobe of baby doll clothes, many of which fit the cats quite well!

When Mr. Whiskers was just a kitten, Thing 1 was in her room having a tea party with him, and, of course, he was dressed for the occasion. In her defense, at the time we thought he was “Lilly”, which somehow justified her dressing him in frilly, ruffley party dresses. Mr. Whiskers/Lilly didn’t seem to mind (too much). He loved Thing 1 so much he would have worn a pink tutu to make her happy! And if we had one, I have no doubt he would have! After their tea party they went outside. Mr. Whiskers/Lilly must have had all the ”fun” he could take, and he ran into the woods. Fortunately for him, his outfit caught on the fence and he was able to free himself and flee naked! I couldn’t help but chuckle when thinking of what would have happened had the clothing stayed on ... can you imagine sitting on your deck, having a nice dinner with your family, when a kitty cat wearing a fancy party dress sashays by?

Even as a kitten Mr. Whiskers fancied himself the Alpha Male. And while he didn’t mind cross-dressing to please Thing 1 in the privacy of her home, I’m not sure his fragile psyche could have handled the trauma of the other animals in the woods seeing him in that sassy little number! 

Mr. Whiskers and Maggie were really good cats. Much to my chagrin, however, neither of them were very good mousers. Oh, they liked to catch them and play with them, but they just never seemed to have the heart of a killer.

Tux, however, is not a really good cat. I’m not sure what he is. It’s my humble opinion that he’s just barely a cat. Aside from looking like a cat, the only thing that distinguishes Tux from a gerbil or grasshopper or parakeet (and I mean no disrespect to gerbils, grasshoppers or parakeets!) is the fact that he enjoys catching mice. I must admit, he is actually a pretty good mouser. It’s his one and only redeeming quality.

Contrast this to Mr. Whisker and Maggie: One Saturday evening I was in the bathroom getting ready for church. Mr. Whiskers and Maggie were in the bathroom with me, staring at their litter box in the corner. ”That’s odd,” I thought, but didn’t think much more about it. They were, after all, cats ... and they had done stranger things! I finished getting ready and headed off to church. After church I went out to eat before returning home. When I got back, the cats were still in the bathroom ... and still staring at their litter box. I was quite militant in keeping the litter box clean, so I was relatively certain they weren’t trying to tell me I’d been derelict in my duties ... so what were they staring at?

Uh, oh!

Fear crept up my spine as the truth dawned on me ... I'll bet there's a mouse in the corner! I turned on the bathroom light and cautiously peeked into corner ... and there it was! A mouse! And it was waving at me!! Okay, it didn’t really wave, but I could swear it was sticking its out tongue at me!

”How dare he,” I thought indignantly! Here he was, a guest in my home, albeit uninvited, eating the food my sloppy children left lying about! He shouldn’t be sticking his tongue out at me ... he should be writing me thank you notes for raising such lazy, careless kids! That ungrateful mouse was thumbing his nose at the smorgasbord my children set before him. He had it as easy as Santa finding cookies on Christmas Eve! Anywhere else and he’d have to find the food on his own ... there would be no midnight buffet or late morning brunch laid out for his dining enjoyment! That lazy ingrate!!

Mr. Whiskers and Maggie, having nothing better to do, seemed more than happy to sit in the bathroom waiting for the mouse to surrender. I, however, was not. It was time to show that thankless mouse who was boss! I shut the bathroom door to keep the mouse in the field of play, climbed up on top the toilet and I picked up the big metal spoon I used to clean the litter box. I put one foot on the vanity and leaned around the toilet alcove, holding onto the wall for balance, and with the spoon, I scooped up the handle of the litter box and pulled it away from the corner.

The cats ran in for the kill. Unfortunately, the mouse was gone when they got there. To my horror, it had scurried along the wall and took refuge behind the toilet ... upon which I was standing!

Okay, I hadn’t anticipated that! Then a frightening thought occurred to me ... what if it shimmied up the trash can, or the toilet brush, or the plunger ... and got up on the toilet ... with ME?!! I quickly grabbed everything and sat it on the vanity. 

Feeling a little safer, and breathing a little easier, and pretty much trapped on top of the toilet, I stood there waiting for someone to make a move.

And I waited ... and waited ... and waited ... and waited.

The cats seemed perfectly content to sit and watch the mouse, apparently all night if necessary ... and the mouse seemed to be counting on the cats getting bored and walking away (fat chance) ... or looking away long enough for it to make a run for safety. I, on the other hand, really didn’t want to stand on the toilet all night. I was still holding the spoon, so I swung it towards the mouse. I had no intention of touching it in any way, shape, or form ... I was too afraid it might run up the spoon and onto my arm (shudder!) ... I just wanted it to think I was attacking it. And it did. It made a beeline over to the wall opposite the door, somehow bypassing the cats. There was nothing for it to hide behind, so it just stood there near the wall.

”Okay, guys,” I thought to myself, ”It’s out in the open; you can get it now.”

I expected the cats to pounce, but they just simply adjusted their bodies to orient themselves to the mouse’s new location. So there I was ... still standing on the toilet ... still trapped ... and still waiting for someone to make a move.

So once again, I waited ... and waited ... and waited ... and (yawn) waited.

After a considerable amount of time had passed, my nerves were shot. I couldn’t take the suspense anymore. ”Oh, for Pete’s sake,” I exclaimed aloud. ”If you’re not going to kill it, I am.”

I summoned all my courage ... praying that disgusting, disease-carrying varmint didn’t somehow figure out a way to touch me ... I once again put one foot on the vanity and leaned around the toilet alcove, holding onto the wall for balance. Holding the big metal spoon in my free hand, I whacked the mouse as hard as I could.

I stared at the mouse as my stomach threatened to purge its contents, my face twisted in a grotesque mixture of panic and revulsion. This had not gone as expected.

One of two things was supposed to have happened: (1) I would deliver an immediate, fatal blow, or (2) I would knock the nasty thing unconscious ... long enough to scoop it into a dust pan and get rid of it ... into the woods or someplace far, far away ... and to do so before it regained consciousness and ran up my arm!! Neither of those things happened.

To my horror, all I had succeeded in doing was wedging that disgusting thing's head and shoulders between the slats of the heating vent, it's body perpendicular to the floor! All four of its legs were airborne, kicking and wiggling.

I expected the cats to pounce! Their prey was hopelessly trapped and completely helpless. ”Get it,” I urged them hysterically! I was exhausted and on the verge of tears!

But they both just stood there looking back and forth, from the mouse to me, with a “What the ----?” look on their faces!

Sweet, submissive little Maggie, always deferring the decisions to the learned Mr. Whiskers, looked at him, awaiting instruction. Mr. Whiskers looked at the young, innocent Maggie and shrugged his shoulders and shook his head as if to say, ”I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before.” 

I debated on what to do. Should I hit it again? No ... I'd likely only shove it clean through the slats, and into the duct work ... where it could make its way to MY room! Okay, so that wasn’t an option.

Its butt was facing the ceiling; I could have grabbed it by the tail ... but there was NO WAY I could force myself to touch that filthy thing. My body convulsed at the mere thought of it!

I stood on the toilet a long while, watching the mouse kick and wiggle in an effort to extricate himself, but it appeared hopeless. I was thirsty ... and tired ... and I was out of ideas. With no other recourse, I cautiously stepped down from my perch and hastily made my way to the door, breathing an audible sigh of relief when I stepped into the relative safety of the hallway.

The cats turned to look at me; and in my most somber and authoritative voice, I left my furry little executioners with these words ...

”Okay, guys, I’ve done all I can. The rest is up to you. Please don’t pull it out and play with it. Please kill it and dispose of the body. I don’t care how ... just as long as I never have to see it again. And I trust you’ll do this by the time I get up in the morning.”

I’m sure I saw Mr. Whiskers nod in agreement ... he understood the gravity of the situation. And, being a gentleman, I was sure, too, that he would spare my sweet, little Maggie, and do the dirty deed himself.

When I came downstairs the next morning, the mouse was gone. I didn’t ask the cats for any details, and they never offered any. It was better that way ... the less I knew, the better. I don’t really know what happened after I went to bed, but I sleep better at night by telling myself they did, indeed, kill it.

That’s not a conversation I’d ever have to have with Tux. He has no problem killing mice. Oh, he’s cat enough to enjoy a good game of “cat and mouse” (no pun intended), he just doesn’t seem to understand the game is over when the mouse is dead! He loves carrying around a dead mouse, dropping it, batting it with his paw in an effort to resurrect it so that he can chase it and catch it ... and kill it ... again. It makes my skin crawl!

Tux’s mousing abilities are not the only differences between him and our other cats. Mr. Whiskers and Maggie “talked” to us. Tux is fairly quiet ... unless you step on him ... which happens all the time because he’s too stupid to ever learn you cannot walk exactly where someone is going to step without getting stepped on in the process. 

And, he makes noises I’ve never heard before when the kids are trying to stuff him into one of his outfits. While Mr. Whiskers and Maggie were more than willing to humble themselves and suffer this indignity to placate the kids, Tux prefers to run wild and natural ... a naked savage ... and he's very verbal with his protests. 

But he’s the most vocal when you try to take a dead mouse away from him! I’ve never personally done that ... I make my daughters boyfriend do it! Poor kid. The girls and I huddle together ... always at a safe distance ... like pioneer women during a stagecoach heist ... shrieking in fear when necessary, alternately looking and shielding our eyes. Tux growls and carries on like a Mama bear defending her cubs! Eventually, “we” humans prevail and the carcass is retrieved and disposed of in a matter befitting a creature of such a lowly and despised status.

The kids really love Tux, and I have no idea why. He’s mean. He bites. He lunges and attacks with no provocation. You can’t hold him. You can’t cuddle with him, and you can’t let him sleep with you ... unless you don’t mind getting mauled in the middle of the night for no reason! None the less, the kids seem to think he’s a pretty cool cat ... (even though he’s not!).

I don’t believe in reincarnation, but just in case it’s true, and just in case you find yourself as a cat in your next life ... take this warning to heart: If you see one of my children walking towards you ... RUN! ... or you just might show up in the next “Where’s Waldo?” book ... 

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