An Open Letter to My Cat.

Dear Cal,

Are we currently starring in some kind of romantic comedy together? Or are you planning on auditioning for a Will Ferrell movie or something? Because our time together lately, if montaged with a kicky Katrina and the Waves song in the background, looks like something Touchtone Pictures would proudly present.

Maybe you’re mad about the other night, when I moved in my sleep and it scared you so much you fell off the bed. Obviously I didn’t mean to wake up with such a start, but I probably shouldn’t have pointed at you and laughed. I don’t even know if my finger was anywhere near you, since it was so dark I couldn’t see anything. But if you could have heard what I heard — me gasping out of a nightmare, you gasping in a kitty sound, and then thunk-BUNK! — you would be pointing and laughing, too.

I know you’ve got a dark side too because you have recently developed a craving for my flesh, and seem to stop at nothing to get some of it. What was with you taking a bite out of my arm the other day when I was typing? That’s not cool, man… cat. [I know he’s a cat, everybody. Gah.] That’s not cool, cat.

And I get it, you have to puke, so you do it wherever I’m going to see it the fastest, like on my clothes, or the first step into the bathroom or in my purse. I know people think you’re stupid, but I’m onto you. It’s all an act, and you’ve been waiting to have enough power and street cred that you could eat me alive and have everybody think you accidentally swallowed me while you were busy being so damn cute.

I’m not buying it.

So the latest move in our romantic comedy is the fight over how we spend our evenings. I like to spend them sleeping, as in the morning I have to get up and go to work, so that you have food to puke in the afternoon. This contradicts your plans for the evening, which can easily be called Shetland Pony Hour, where you run full-tilt around the place while making a sound that goes: Whrr-mrr-mrr-WHRR-MRR-MRR!! I cannot believe the police haven’t arrived yet, with the amount of noise that you make.

I know you think that suddenly walls grow in our home, and that’s how Shetland Pony Hour stops, but I’m gonna let you in on a secret. When you’re practicing weighing a million pounds and running, I actually have to get up, go into the closet, find two pieces of canvas from a failed art project I did that Anna Beth hates, and use them like baby gates to block your running path. I’m lucky that as you’ve gotten older you’ve lost the ability to leap three feet into the air, although it is clear from your caterwauling that you haven’t lost the desire to MJ up to the deadbolt, just like you used to years ago.

I have never been as angry with you as I was the other night, when I got up to see what you’d knocked over (the large basket that holds the blue twigs that AB made me buy), only to step on one of your toys that you’d strategically placed so that the little metal jingle ball would jam up into the tenderest part of my foot. Cal, I haven’t seen you play with that toy in years, and now all of a sudden it just happens to be in the doorway when it just so happens that you “accidentally” knocked over something big and heavy?

Oh, yeah, buddy. I know what’s going on. Let’s be honest. We’re in a romantic comedy, and you’re in love with me.

Neither of us know what to do about it, or how to speak about our true feelings. We’ll go to our friends, our families, we’ll go to other countries. We’ll make bad decisions, questionable choices, and obsess about each other to the point where we will come close to hating one another. Because that’s how much we love each other. Hopefully we will resolve this within ninety minutes, and not have this be one of those two-hour dealies with way too much story and not enough funny.

Act two.

I lock you out of the bedroom, because after that little prank with the jingle ball you certainly aren’t getting to sleep on two-thirds of my pillow while I wake up with allergies because you’re just a “helpless little puddy-tat who is just so sweet.” Uh-uh. You sleep out there in your canvas playpen and try to think about what you’ve done.

This morning. I wake up. FEED YOU. And then go to put the wet clothes from last night’s wash into the dryer. And that’s when I found your latest scheme.

Cal. How did your tennis ball get into the wash?

How did your tennis ball get into the wash?

That thing bounced out of the washing machine like it was on its way to tell you, “Cal! We did it! She totally washed a tennis ball! Ha-HA! What a sucker!”

Do you have thumbs that you put on when I’m not looking? Did you hire someone to do your evil bidding? What are you doing to me?

If you’re in love with me, Cal, let me tell you: this ain’t the way to woo me. I prefer the sweet and cuddly. Maybe you could learn to drink wine and say things like, “Oh, I can’t believe that happened. And then what?” Maybe you could find a way to be into trying new things, like going on trips or eating in different restaurants, instead of always wanting a can of tuna/salmon, and sleeping right up next to my face. If you want to be with me, please don’t act like you want me dead. Because it makes me angry, Cal. And it makes me laugh when you fall off the bed in fear. And I don’t want to laugh at you when you fall, Cal.

Everybody else might think you’re the cat who’s just so cool and fun. And you can even somehow charm Anna Beth, who chanted along with me: “Cal for Slenator!” But I still remember when you tried to kill me so you could have Eric all to yourself, and I won’t forget that you somehow got a tennis ball into the washing machine. (Speaking of, not a time goes by when I see my family that they don’t bring up the Exact Change story and laugh and laugh and laugh. These are the two stories they ask me to tell people: Exact Change, and AB with the fish.)

Cal, if our romantic comedy continues, as we race towards act three there will be nights when I’m sleeping on the couch, and you’re sleeping in a strip club, and our friends will try to tell us that it’s over and we have to move on, but you’ll be drunk and wandering around animal shelters, looking at all the other possible owners out there, trying to find the hottest one, and I’ll give Taylor all kinds of toys he couldn’t give a shit about, and you know he won’t let me pick him up and put him in a hoodie sling and hold him like a baby.

Act three. Time passes. I’ll find myself washing your tennis ball just in case you come home and want it, and you’ll find yourself in some girl’s lap and she’ll be petting you all wrong, and you’ll want to call me but you left your secret thumbs at home and I’ll tell everyone you didn’t run away, you just got lost and it was all my fault and i should have been nicer and you’ll get a tattoo that nobody can see because of all your fur and find some nice girl who wonders what bad lady made your tail fall off. Life goes on, tasting oh so bittersweet.

Six months from now we’ll see each other across a crowded veterinary clinic, and I’ll lift my head a little like I do when I see you, and you’ll lift your head a little back like you do, our secret hello. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll Shetland Pony right back into my arms.

But we don’t have to go through all of that. Not if we don’t want to.

How about instead you just stop biting the shit out of me, and I will try to play more jumping games with you before we go to sleep so you stop going to the kitty-gym in the middle of the night. Deal? Please?

Thanks, Cal. You’re the best. I mean it.



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