Let me tell you my pet peeve…
For some years now, I have been trying to convince friends and anybody willing to listen (not always the same people) that keeping a pet at home is not a good idea.
“You can’t travel at the drop of a hat,” has been my most powerful argument. It is usually countered with, “You can always find a kennel or a distant relative to leave your pet with.”
I have a distant kennel and a nearby relative I haven’t spoken to in a decade. So that’s out.
“They chew the furniture, mess up the living room and (if they are snakes or bears) frighten away the guests,” is my second argument.
This is usually countered with a shake of the head, a steadily curling lipline and a shrug. This probably means something, but I don’t know what.
In recent years, a cat has adopted us, and now I have another reason. But instead of telling you what it is right away, let me approach it in a roundabout fashion.
Every time I leave the house and meet a neighbour or two, I’m subjected to a look full of pity. The penny didn’t drop until I heard my wife admonish the cat. “Get off the sofa you fat, lazy, so-andso,” she said, and it struck me that our neighbours think she’s talking to me.
Pet lovers speak to their pets in a language that alternates between a coochi-coo and a stern command. The problem is, the former is usually softer and doesn’t carry to the neighbours’ ears. The latter, on the other hand, is unmistakably what it is. And can be heard a street away.
So now you understand what happens when the cat scratches the furniture, jumps on books or brings its dinner (half-eaten) home. The neighbours think I’ve been doing these things.
Some years ago, when we first moved into this house, it was in the wilderness, and I was occasionally known to bat a mouse over the head to ensure it didn’t get in among the books. These
Somehow, I think my wife enjoys all the confusion the cat conversations cause
encounters usually ended with a cry I had borrowed from Tarzan. “Take that you so-and-so!” was usually how it began. We didn’t have too many neighbours then, but the ones who could hear probably concluded that I was a foul-mouthed wife-beater. This is my comeuppance.
Somehow, I think my wife enjoys the confusion cat conversations cause. She refuses to end embarrassing sentences with “Tiger”, which is the cat’s name. How much clearer would it be if she said, “Stop eating so much, Tiger”?
One look at me and the neighbours would know it couldn’t possibly be the name friends know me by.