On a Monday not long ago, I picked up my grandson, Riff, from school and drove him home. (My other grandson, Rye, is both too cool to be driven and lives so close that driving him takes twice as long as him walking.) Riff wanted me to hear an arrangement he’d learned on his new guitar, a Les Paul Standard, which I call an LPS 900, because it weighs nine pounds. (He also has an LP 625, and I have his Iban 750, which I’m taking apart to find out why it doesn’t sound good.) As I was standing in the garage, waiting for him to finish pulling the garbage can from the curb to around the side door, his stepdad, Caesar, came out. He didn’t realize it was that late. We talked a little, and then he led the way back into the house. Suddenly, Caesar’s little chihuahua, which I call Haggis, started barking at him. I was surprised and highly amused, because Haggis only ever barks when I come over, following me around for a good five minutes, yapping in his high, squeaky version of a whoopy cushion. Caesar yelled at him, “What are you doing? Why are you barking at me?” But Haggis, which also looks to me like a kid’s bagpipes without the drones, kept challenging him, following him around for the standard duration normally meant for me.
Later I learned that Haggis is partially blind and deaf, so he goes by smell. Apparently, then, I guess he was confused when Caesar entered the house first. Usually when I come over, I walk in from the garage first, in front of Riff. But by golly, once Haggis decides to bark at someone, he’s not going to change his mind, regardless of odorific discrepancy.
After Riff showed me what he had lately learned from listening to Led Zeppelin, during which I tried to accompany him on his flat wound Squire bass guitar, I was back in the garage getting ready to leave, still talking about music with Riff, when Caesar came out holding his cat. For some reason he needed to show me his very big cat. I don’t know what the thing’s name is, but I call it Stew, short for cat stew. By length it’s a standard house cat, but by weight it looks like a sated Cougar, so I think it would make a hearty meal for eight. (Hey, if it was bigger and had the opportunity, it would do the same to me, without cooking.)
When I got home, I was eager to continue on my acoustic bass guitar, a Sky 425. When I entered my own garage, I noticed that as usual the cats had been busy knocking things over. A small, open container was on the floor, it’s contents of nuts and bolts strewn across the concrete, so they had been on my workbench. Surprisingly, my wife’s Solar Pool Cover, which is still in its 15 by 17 by 23 inches size plastic bag, but weighs only eight pounds, was on the floor. I had recently set it seven feet up on a storage shelf. My wife swore she did not take it down, so the cats had been there, too. When I went into the kitchen, the cats scattered like the rats I’d seen in a documentary from Australia about their problem of massive infestation. Usually when the cats of my own infestation do that, they’ve found a bug, usually one of those large roach-looking things. They run because they think that since I’m much bigger I should get first taste. (That’s the only thing their good for: pointing out bugs. For some reason, they never know when there’s a frog in my toilet.) I looked around but found no bug, so I don’t know what they were doing. Cats never feel guilty, but they will run from trouble. And of course, later we had to cover the pots, pans, and bowls of supper with aluminum foil, because the cats will leap up and partake of anything we leave exposed. Evidently, not even Friskies is better than home cooked. Later I found on the wooden floor of the living room a twist tie, from a bag of bread, and a toothpick, one of those plastic combos of floss and pick. I don’t know how they get them from the kitchen drawer or the bathroom jar, but they do. They love making themselves chase after something.
When I was finally in my office, fuzzy-picking my bass guitar and pedaling the kick drum and high-hat of my electric set, I started thinking about a possible song. I decided that cats are nothing but short-snouted, long-legged, hairy-tailed rats. I now call them crats. So I started mind-humming a tune, just a faint idea of music, GGDDGAGD, with a fainter idea of rhyme, bats, cats, flats, mats, gnats, pats, rats, tats, vats, (I didn’t use “hats” because of Seuss), and that doesn’t include multisyllabic words.
Hey, maybe I’ll be able to put together an entire opera about the reality of house-bound animals. I have much to lyrically lament about dogs, but for the present cats are what annoy me most. Yes, I’ve fast-forwarded through a few minutes of several CGI pet-orientated movies but could not suspend my disbelief. No, I want a movie, a musical, about the true burdens of pets, entirely from the owner’s point of view. I’ll call it Crats!
I caught a snippet of news the other day about Webber’s musical, Cats, closing its Broadway doors (though it’s closed before) so now’s a good time for something new. Yeah, Crats! And then maybe Dhogs!