By VINCENT CARDEGIN
AWARD WINNING COLUMNIST
At first my wife called her new cats Lavern and Shirley. But then our granddaughter, Sneaks, identified one as a male, so my wife decided on Agatha and Holmes. I told her that didn’t make sense. If one is named after Agatha Christie, the other should be named after Arthur Conan Doyle: Christie and Doyle. Or even better, Marple and Holmes; just don’t mix authors and characters! But my wife is confusedly insistent. Originally she asked me what to call them, and I told her both should be “Kitty Kitty Kitty” so they would always know their names. Otherwise I suggested Stir-Fry and Tempura, and those are the names I use.
I grew up with cats, and my brother, Night Stocker, and I, being carnivores, used to joke about eating them. We would never, of course! But I had fun making up names for recipes. Then I forgot about it, until I watched the second Indiana Jones movie and the scene with the monkey brains. Ah, cat brains on the half skull, like oysters on the half shell. It was then that I typed a list of culinary titles, but no real instructions: Cat Tail Soup, Rack of Cat Ribs, Cat Hocks and Pinto Beans, Cat Chops and Applesauce, and others ad nauseum. As carnivorous as I am, especially about corn dogs, cat recipes are not appetizing. Yuck.
Whenever my wife or I go somewhere alone, like shopping, we farewell each other with “Love you!” A few years ago and for a while I amended that affectionate cheer with “Love you, get rid of the dogs!” Now it’s “Love you, get rid of the cats!” (I don’t want anything underfoot.) But she has forever ignored everything after “Love you,” including “don’t forget the list on the fridge.”
My brother-in-law, Helm, sent me a novelty gift reminiscent of our days in the military: a protective mask (gas mask) with all its parts in packages. Since it didn’t knickknack well on a bookshelf, I kept it in my closet. But now it has the potential for purpose. My wife put the litter box in the laundry room, which is connected to the kitchen, and I smell it every time I go in there, and I’m practically sticking my head in that stinky container when I’m pulling towels out of the dryer. So I’m thinking I’ll don the mask whenever I leave my office. Yeah! And I’ll introduce my objection-by-apparel the next time it’s my turn to cook: I’ll slowly peek around her sliding doors and ask “fish sticks or beef strip?” through the muffled emitter of the mask. Perhaps I’ll hang it from a hook on my office door. Hold on. Okay, I just did. Took me forty sweaty minutes to insert the filters and outer eye covers—haven’t done that in decades—but now it’s a constant reminder to all who enter my sanctum that I don’t want pets.
But that’s not really revenge, and that’s what I seek. (No, I’m not running a laser light up her bare legs or getting a pet snake.) The stink of the cat poops and perfumed litter is disgusting, but what annoys me most is their noise. Just when I’ve gotten used to the ghostly sounds of New House, I’m now alarmed by the cats playing. I am always on the verge of dialing 911 from their bumps and thumps of clambering that sounds like someone breaking in, and their high-pitched meows when fighting each other that tempts me to call Animal Control. And lately they’ve started batting and chasing unshelled hazelnuts and almonds across the wooden floor from the nut bowel on the coffee table. So I want to record all that on audio, and play it back in my wife’s art room after work and on her days off so that for the entire time she’s trying to enjoy her quilting and crafts and BritBox she can hear what I hear when I’m in my recliner. I’ll need to install surround-sound, and have total control so she can’t turn it off.
But you know what? That probably won’t bother her. Maybe I will get a pet snake.