OUT­SIDE THE BOX

My furry long­time friend

GA Voice - - Columnists - By BILL KAELIN

This week I was chat­ting with my boyfriend about how I was feel­ing stressed with this month’s Ge­or­gia Voice col­umn. I am the prince of pro­cras­ti­na­tion and was a bit be­hind thanks to writer’s block on this pro­ject.

Try­ing to be op­ti­mistic about the chal­lenge, I looked at him and said dryly, “At least I get to write an ar­ti­cle about our cat, Hand­some.” Shawn was shocked, re­ply­ing, “You’re go­ing to write an en­tire ar­ti­cle about your cat? I’ve never even got­ten an ar­ti­cle ded­i­cated only to me!”

My re­ply came with­out hes­i­ta­tion. “Yeah, but you haven’t been with me for 15 years,” I said. My state­ment re­ally threw me. Fif­teen years is a long time. Hand­some the cat has been the most con­sis­tent re­la­tion­ship I have had in my adult life. I never thought I could love an an­i­mal as much as I love him.

Hand­some was a tiny, home­less baby boy who pranced up to me and marked his ter­ri­tory by rub­bing his cute lit­tle wet nose back and forth on my an­kles. He had no fear, de­spite be­ing a feral cat, and I im­me­di­ately took him in.

Even as a kit­ten, I knew there was some­thing spe­cial about my furry friend. He al­ways had to be near, even if he only had one paw touch­ing me. We’ve been to­gether through ev­ery­thing. It was Hand­some who watched the planes hit the twin tow­ers with me. We sur­vived the Bush years and cel­e­brated the Obama ones to­gether.

He stuck by me through bad boyfriends and Back­street-style de­pressed hang­overs, and through the open­ings and clos­ings of the bars I owned dur­ing my night­club years. He com­forted me when I lost my best friend. Now with a suc­cess­ful com­pany, a real deal boyfriend and the re­cent gay mar­riage vic­tory, I’m happy to know Hand­some is still around, purring loud and strong.

We have grown up to­gether. He is the coolest, fat­test, most laid­back and so­cial cat in the world. He will greet ev­ery per­son who walks through the door. He gives ev­ery­one the ben­e­fit of the doubt, but will also fuck you up if you de­serve it.

I never would have imag­ined my­self a cat per­son. Grow­ing up, I al­ways wanted a dog, Hand­some, the ‘coolest, fat­test, most laid­back and so­cial cat in the world’ ac­cord­ing to Kaelin. (Photo cour­tesy Bill Kaelin) and thought a puppy would be one of the first things I got when I was fi­nally on my own. Over time I re­al­ized my re­la­tion­ship with Hand­some was ex­actly what I needed.

Un­like a dog, which is ba­si­cally a life­long baby, Hand­some is like hav­ing a full-time adult room­mate. Some­times we like to hang out to­gether; some­times I won’t see him for hours. Some­times he needs lots of love and at­ten­tion, other times he’ll cut me if he’s not in the mood.

If Hand­some could smoke weed, he would be pass­ing a joint with me and my friends while rock­ing out to his fa­vorite tunes. It is a known fact that cats love mu­sic and re­spond to it like hu­mans; toss in some cat­nip and it’s a party. He likes to chill out on the back pa­tio in the sun, he gets the munchies and takes the most epic naps ever. Ba­si­cally, Hand­some is the fe­line ver­sion of me, and he re­minds me ev­ery day to slow down and truly en­joy my life like I only have eight left!

“I never would have imag­ined my­self a cat per­son. Grow­ing up, I al­ways wanted a dog, and thought a puppy would be one of the first things I got when I was fi­nally on my own. Over time I re­al­ized my re­la­tion­ship with Hand­some was ex­actly what I needed.”

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