Like a lot of women, I enjoy things in baby form, whether it's a human infant, a newborn kitten, or an adorable miniature pizza. I'm also very good with storing vital information about babies, much like Wikipedia. 'In basic English usage, an infant is defined as a human child at the youngest stage of life (see also child and adolescent). The term "infant" derives from the Latin word in-fans, meaning "unable to speak". A human infant less than a month old is a newborn infant or a neonate.' See how easy it is to program your mind into a Wiki page format? Then you just fill in the blanks about how and when infants were invented, the failed experiments, unseen rogue warriors, and the final, epic battle [the factual accuracy of this section is disputed]. Also, one should always check for babies underfoot, and maintain a healthy, baby-free diet. (The simple fact is, if you eat the babies, they won't grow up to make more babies, and that's counter-productive.) Anyways, the point is: I love infant things, widdle-bitty pet-type things, soft and furry tail-like things, or ferociously-cute little cuddly things that go *rawr?* Once they're big enough to make inappropriate hand gestures and walk away, I'm done, though; they're dead to me.
But then I had a kid. And in this country, it's illegal to
Same thing happened with the cat. My ex-husband and I decided to "take care" of this cat that was found in the parking lot. Why the parking lot part didn't tip us off will haunt me for the rest of my days. I'm pretty sure we got him to fill a void (notice I said "ex-husband"), but we at least wanted him in the beginning, much like I did my ex-husband. We named him Nigel Barker, after the hotter-than-hot photographer from America's Next Top Model, because we watched it religiously at the time. As usual, the minute I saw Nigel, I fell in super-duper love with him, or at least the idea of him. I imagined quiet nights by the fire, brushing his hair; training him to fetch me drinks from the fridge; the inevitable oil-on-canvas portrait of us in the drawing room. I expected a refined cat from the parking lot, not a ginger-headed, unlovable, backwoods trailer park cat. I thought I wanted him, but then I saw how needy he was-- food, water, and a litter box?--and I reconsidered. What was I, the sudden owner of a charming bed-and-breakfast?! I couldn't even handle my own flesh and blood! When did I morph into Mary fucking Poppins? No matter, Nigel stayed with us--happily scratching, ripping, shitting, and biting--for what felt like five-and-a-half years, but was really just nine months (or three, maybe)... that being said, it was NINE (or three) MONTHS OF PURE HELL. I think it was nine months; maybe it was six. I wonder if we ever really owned a cat, or if I made this up. Yeah, I remember--we did; I may even have some pictures to prove it. I hated that asshole as much as he (or she) hated me.
This matters only because I've fallen in love again, hard, and his name--no kidding--is Toast. Michelle, my neighbor downstairs, is cat-sitting Toast for five weeks, as a trial run to see if she'd like to keep him. Toast got his name from the previous owner, who knew if she didn't rescue him, he'd be toast--and so she did. I thought his name was adorable, and so I pictured in my head THIS cat; a soft, purring, tiny mountain of fur, big melty eyes, and a feisty disposition. In my mind, he was the color of perfectly-toasted white bread, which, if we're talking paint samples, I've always imagined as a warm, buttery ecru, with just a touch of browning on the ear tips and tail. I'm definitely one of those people who judges animals (and children) by their looks; I mean, why would I pay two grand for a puppy (or child) missing an ear, or for one who needs Lasik surgery? Call me shallow, but I think things that are generally thought of as 'cute' should then generally always look cute. I drummed up some old cat fantasies yesterday, briefly eyeballing our largest wall for dimensions, just in case I should need it for an oil painting in the future. I also fantasized about how we might cat-sit for Toast, despite both of our rampant cat allergies (and alleged hatred for cats in general), and how he would come to love us more, and how Michelle would graciously see that and hand him over, only wanting the best for him. I would raise him to be a domesticated diva with the heart of a lion, and train him to live longer (and stay cuter) than any other cat in the history of cats. I was excited to meet him so I could welcome him to our building, and to his new perfect life with me.
When I overheard someone say Toast had three legs, I thought they were kidding. They weren't. Toast was also, in cat years, close to 105 years old, or at least Burt Reynold's age. And if Toast had perfectly-colored hair, or any hair at all, it wouldn't have been the right shade of buttery ecru--more like an Orange Creamsicle rolled in a ditch and lit on fire for five seconds. This is only in the spots where he still has hair, since his flea bath and constant over-scratching have left him with large bald patches; it's like he's wearing an indented hair-vest. I told Manthony that I wouldn't have been surprised if the cat had been wearing an eye patch (or had scurvy!), like a drunken, dirty pirate. I thought he was positively mangy, a down-on-your-luck cat, a vintage ice cream treat with a sunken shoulder. I didn't even want to pet him, much less pay extra to have a fourth catleg added to our oil painting portrait.
But...but!... I got over it, and now I think he's awesome. He's the sweetest cat that ever lived, really. Not afraid of people or of whoring himself out to them. He's a lover, and snuggly, and adorable in his mangy three-leggedness. And he's not ugly, by any means--he has character, and a kind face (somewhere out there, a cat is describing me in the same way to other cats). I'm glad I got to know him--happy, in fact, that I could see past his one giant flaw, which wasn't a flaw at all: he's not a baby kitten.
I can get over that, just as soon as I'm done with this veal & spinach ravioli. Mmmmm, baby cows; cute on the farm, delicious in my tummy.