Posts Tagged cats
“The Texas vote leaves loopholes for teaching creationism, so consider this your duty. It is so important to get into the Word of God,” said the speaker. “Some say that the New Testament is a sad tale of a kitteh who could not find a loving home, but the forgiving Ceiling Cat that C.S. Lewis called Aslan is on the move. For even when they just nail these pieces of him to a cross, He says, ‘thanks for following me.‘”
The crowd clapped enthusiastically. “But however you feel about Jesus, Leonard Cohen is still the coolest human being on the planet. When he doesn’t deliver, you know it’s not that profundity pressure produces protean prattle, no, today’s song will be posted late due to disheartening technical problems. Why is my internet being so slow? Internet spies from China, probably. But we can put our faith in Leonard Cohen.”
A chorus of “Hallelujah” broke out.
“Honey, I’m home!”
“Hi, Dave!” said Bea. “I’m repeatedly telling myself I don’t need the 50th Anniversary hardcover edition of Elements of Style, but it’s so tempting. I need you to convince me to save a few trees.”
“But Daddy, I don’t understand how paper is made out of wood!” interrupted James, their eldest son.
“It just is,” said Dave. “You can’t make books without killing trees. It’s just one of those things that suck. Having to order in pizza because you look too terrible to leave the house, but have no groceries, is another. Thanks for ‘cooking’, Bea.”
Bea poked her tongue out at him. She knew he was only teasing; they were comfortable enough with her facial deformity to joke about it. “I didn’t get pizza, I got cheesy stir-fry. Besides, You don’t have to be photogenic to be a good wife. Remember what my mum used to say: in a photo gallery, mostly dead people are displayed.”
“Yeah, and in an art gallery…” Dave began, leaving Bea to finish her aphorism.
“Only the adults need art. Psychiatrist holds up doll and asks kid, ‘show me where Santa was naughty and where he was nice’ and the kid just takes the doll and plays. It doesn’t matter whether Santa made the doll disfigured, it’s a gift.”
“As the great Leonard Cohen said, ‘A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.’ Hey, and about gifts…” Dave pulled a box of chocolates from his bag and gave it to Bea. “I saw John Pridmore speak at a men’s conference today. He reminded me to read more Cohen. I found this quote, ‘I taught him how to dress, he taught me how to live forever.’ And I know it’s not what he meant, but it made me think of James. He learnt to dress himself and I wasn’t even here to see it. I don’t want it to be that way with Bart. It really got me thinking that men should take more of a role in child-rearing. I’m sorry for not serving you, my queen Bea; I didn’t know I was a drone.”
“Bwahaha! Your turn now,” said the mummy to the daddy as she pointed at the little monster’s full and smelly pants. “9 months from today, hundreds of babies will be born to those who get turned on by fleeting conscience.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” he said, though he did not understand the full significance of her remarks. “I am full of angst and gouda. Full of stir-fry. But also, my pants are nowhere near empty, as I am happy to see you.”
As the months went by, his pants got less and less empty, but not for the same reasons as before. He was getting fat. One day, as he was checking the weather and making plans… skiing, shopping? a button flew off his trusty pants. He tried to sew it back on, but the pants were hurt; the pants were broken, and could never trust again. So he went shopping, bought some bigger pants and ski pants, and then went skiing.
He was out-of practice, and his increased girth made it difficult to balance. He fell, and as he sat in the snow, he felt a huge pressure in his abdomen, as if he needed to do the biggest poo of his life. He pulled his pants down and pushed, trying not to touch the cold snow with his bare buttocks. For he was just a sheep following a sacred cow named God, and in their mysterious wisdom, the cows on the moon shaved the sheep’s buttocks.
He gasped when he saw what was coming out. An egg! His wife had been telling the truth; it was his turn, his turn to bring a child into the world. Laying there in the snow he wondered whether it was really worth the effort.
The birth of his new baby caused a great upheaval in his life, not least because he was the first of hundreds of men to give birth. And yet, somewhere, he was sure, that life continued normally for a great many people.
Another upset came when he asked for paternity leave.
“Given your recent performance, I’d be better off firing you,” said his boss.
“You completely forgot to file our tax returns. Remember, If you have a corporation, the tax return due date is 3/16/09!”
“Oh, man… must have been the hormones. They’ve thrown my migraines out of control again. But I’m doing better now. We’re looking for some community feed back for the next round of developments. I got excellent feedback from my readers about this recommendation.”
“Mr. Jones, do you know how much your mistake cost us?”
“Please? I really need the time and money to raise my kids.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Jones. I am only leaving severence now. You understand, it’s a recession. We’re all in the same boat, and we can’t have somebody sailing close to the wind.”
“Boat ride in the dark, coming right up,” Dave mumbled to himself as he left the office for the last time.
With that, he became the house-husband. He searched for jobs on the internet, but was too depressed to really try. Bea got a job as a journalist.
One Sunday, as Dave was tweeting on PSP while burping baby, Bea asked him, “If you could tweet with anyone from history, who would it be?”
“Steve Wozniak, for sure. We could talk about the good old days when Macs were still around. Does anybody know why gnome-screensaver is using 2.1% of my 2GB of RAM when the system is active? I’m moving from CoreGraphics to OpenGL for this?! If I could just get a Mac again, it’d be like going from a 16 tonne bus to a tiny smart car. If all you care about is freedom and sharing, then sure, a bloated gas-guzzler with lots of seats will do the job. Me, I’m happy with something smart and efficient that goes where I want.”
“Well if you weren’t wasting so much time on facebook instead of promoting your favourite OS, maybe we wouldn’t have that problem. Thanks to all of your forgetting, the ‘Woz’ word outlook is pretty grim.”
“What do you mean, wasting time on facebook? Do you need a reminder? The Official Vote For Woz Facebook group is found here!”
“And you really think Woz would make a good president? He’s smart, but not a politician.”
“Exactly! And that’s just what we need. Perhaps we should force the political leaders to play chess, and declare their victories, without shedding blood. Then there’d be no more unnecessary pain. As the great Leonard Cohen said, ‘Let generals secretly despair of triumph; killing will be defamed.'”
“Crustaceans feel pain, but are still boiled alive. We’ll never have a world without pain. I think you’re just on facebook because you can’t keep away from it. You know, anyone these days could create a stunning new design for your website in five minutes, no skill needed, but you, you spent an hour to get it all done. And I’m really feeling the effects of the lost hour this morning.”
“Okay. Maybe you’re right. I think I may have finally developed a full-on internet addiction. But life is so much better there. The world is so much sparklier when it’s reflected on the side of my toaster, even… when reflected on the internet, it’s a woot off!”
“You got that right… heck, even from the command line it’s great. I love using tar in verbose mode, it makes me feel cool. Gimme that,” she wrestled the keyboard from him.
“Hey, I’ve got an idea… let’s get the internet to write a story. All those ugly geeks stuck at home ordering pizza for their kittehs could really do something to please the Ceiling Cat!”
The following is a story I wrote in 1996, unaltered except for one word. This week’s Thing is below it.
It was not until my twelfth birthday that I realised the face I saw in the mirror was not mine.
I had always assumed it was me – with the long brown hair, hazel eyes, and the line of freckles joining two rosy cheeks. Indeed, that corresponded to the way others hazily described me. The image perfectly mimicked my actions, wore my clothes in the way I imagined they looked on me. I had no reason to doubt that it was my reflection that I could see, as she looked convincingly like photographs of myself.
Ironically, it was my kitten, Angel, who led me to discover what I am sure I was better off not knowing. She was given to me on the birthday which I have mentioned, a cat such a pure white that the name Angel immediately sprang to mind, and stayed there, when I first saw her. The kitten did not seem to have such an angelic temperament, however. As soon as I released her from the box she had been brought to me in, the distressed kitty leapt at my face, giving my cheek a scratch which would have been very painful, had it been caused by a fullgrown cat. Quickly I rushed to the bathroom to inspect the damage in the mirror. I was relieved, though a little puzzled, to see that the scratch had not even marked my face, and went back to my friends in the lounge.
“Ooh, that’s a nasty scratch, Hannah – we should put some Savlon on that,” said my mother.
I thought she was joking, and said, “Oh, of course, it probably needs stitches as well!”
“It’s not that bad, Hannah, it’s just bleeding a little. But we don’t want you getting an infection from the cat.”
“But… there isn’t even a mark! Don’t be silly, Mum.”
“I think you’re the one being silly, Hannah. That scratch sticks out like a sore… like a sore cheek. I’ll get the Savlon.”
By this time even my friends were beginning to look at me strangely, so I didn’t say anything more. Before I went to bed that night I looked in the mirror again, but still no scratch had appeared on the image.
The next day – Sunday – I spent in front of my mirror, examining the image and comparing it to photos. I noticed several subtle differences – her eyes were a slightly different shade, she had a few extra freckles. While I wasn’t looking at the mirror my mind was occupied solely with trying to figure out who she was. Did I have a twin who had died at birth, and now watched me through the mirror? My mother assured me that no, I had never had a twin sister, and wondered why I had asked. I dared not tell her.
So who was it? Soon I became very uncomfortable around mirrors – I did not like the thought of her watching me. By the time I was fifteen my thoughts were permanently filled with dread, the awful feeling of being watched. I started to plan shopping trips so that I could pass as few reflective surfaces as possible – my friends thought I was weird, and soon they were not my friends. I was relieved at this – no longer would I have to think of excuses not to go out.
I covered my bedroom mirror with a blanket – my brothers teased me that I could not stand seeing my own ugly reflection. If only they knew. I was becoming ugly, I knew that – it’s hard to maintain a good appearance without mirrors for makeup, and even harder to look happy when you’re being watched by the devil,
I managed to completely avoid seeing the image for eight months. At times I managed to seem normal. but I was always scheming to avoid her seeing me. My mother sent me to a psychiatrist, but I ran away from there when I saw the reflective silver stars on her walls – meant to be cheerful but instead terrifying. They were only peep-holes for her to watch me through.
Then one day, when I was seventeen, I came home to see my mother had done spring-cleaning. The windows sparkled with a near-transparent image of the spy. Even the netball cups I had won before discovering her were displayed on the mantelpiece, their newly-cleaned silver proudly reflecting what I used to think was me. I ran to the sanctuary of my mirrorless bedroom.
She looked straight at me, taunting me with a replica of my own paranoid face. My mother had cleaned my mirror for me.
I threw a sneaker at the mirror to smash it. She continued to watch me, the face more disfigured by cracks in the glass. I grabbed a sliver of it and thrust it into my chest, preferring death to this life tormented by the devil’s spy. As I slipped into unconsciousness I heard her speak to me.
“You needn’t be afraid… I’m only your guardian angel.”
(now comes the Thing A Week part.)
Mirror Image II
It was not until my twelfth birthday that I realised the face I saw in the mirror was not mine.
I had always assumed it was me – with the long brown hair, hazel eyes, and the line of freckles joining two rosy cheeks. Indeed, that corresponded to the way others hazily described me. The image perfectly mimicked my actions, wore my clothes in the way I imagined they looked on me. I had no reason to doubt that it was my reflection that I could see, as she looked sufficiently like photographs of myself.
It started with a gift. My birthday had been going perfectly, until I opened the last box, a box which been jiggling in anticipation all by itself. Inside was a kitten… perfect, white, and dead.
Our faces went as white as the cat. “Oh Hannah, I’m so sorry!” gasped my mother. “There mustn’t have been enough air in the box… it’s all my fault… I should have…”
I rushed to the bathroom to cover my imminent sobs. But my shock was met by a second shockwave when I saw myself in the mirror. I had a scratch on my cheek, which was bleeding. I went back to the lounge to show my mother.
“Hey, why didn’t you tell me my cheek was scratched? Where’s the Sav?”
My mother’s nervous expression collapsed into a blank stare, too fatigued to complete the transformation to confusion. “Scratched?”
“Yeah, I don’t know how it happened.”
My parents exchanged worried looks, and I wondered if they’d thought I’d hurt myself while doing something naughty.
“I know you’re upset about the cat, but you don’t have to pretend you’re hurt. We promise we’ll get you a new kitten.”
“But I’m not pretending,” I protested, moving my hand to the affected cheek. “I…” I stopped speaking when I felt the smooth, unbroken skin.
“Look, how about we all have birthday cake and try to forget about it for now?” said my dad.
So I pretended to forget. It was easy to let my family think I was upset about the cat, and not the phantom scratch. Before I went to bed that night I looked in the mirror again. The scratch was still there, but already starting to heal over.
I spent all the next day in front of my mirror, examining the image and comparing it to photos. I noticed several subtle differences – her eyes were a slightly different shade, she had fewer freckles. And she had that scratch. I wondered what had happened to her. I hoped that it did not hurt her too much. I hoped that she wasn’t my own future.
So where did she come from? I asked my mother if I’d ever had a twin sister. She looked at me the same way she had when I’d asked about the scratch, and said no. I knew better than to continue and risk being sent to a nuthouse. I told her not to worry about getting a new cat.
After that, my reflection always looked a little scared, and maybe I did as well. It sure felt weird to look in a mirror and know that there was somebody else looking into my world. I wished I could ask her who she was, what was troubling her.
A few times I thought I saw a white cat in the background. Had my kitty escaped into her dimension, or was I subconsciously so upset about her that I saw her everywhere?
As time went on, I began feeling increasingly uneasy, even when I wasn’t looking in a mirror. I kept having the feeling that something wasn’t quite right, something in my peripheral vision that escaped my attention. It was my little brother Bob who first realised what it was, as we walked past some shop windows one Saturday.
“Hey, Han, you’re a vampire!”
“And you’re a tasty little troll!” I retorted, leaping toward him in mock menace.
He bolted with a shriek of true terror, bawling and screaming until he was out of sight.
“Geez, I was only joking!” I said to my parents. “You’d think at ten, he wouldn’t be scared so easily!”
It took us fifteen minutes to find Bob again, and another half an hour to coax him out of his hiding place. When we got home, he raced to his room.
“Bobby,” I called through the door. “You know I was only joking, why’d you run away like that?”
After much pleading, he eventually let me in. He was wearing two sets of rosary beads and clinging to a Bible. I couldn’t help laughing, and he almost joined me with a slight smile. I sat as close to him as he would allow. The fear returned to his face, and he pointed to his mirror.
When I saw his pale face in the mirror, I felt my own face go white. I felt it, but did not see it; in the reflection, Bob was scared and alone. I had no reflection.
“I swear I’m not a vampire,” I said. I explained what had happened. I’m sure I was even more relieved than he was that the truth was finally out. He seemed especially happy to hear that my doppelgänger had the cat.
“Can I tell you a secret?” asked Bob.
“Sure… if you can trust your secrets to a vampire,” I grinned reassuringly.
“When I was a little kid, I used to think my reflection was my guardian angel. I tried moving really fast to see if he would keep up with me. I swear sometimes he didn’t. And we played rock paper scissors against each other. But when I grew up, I thought I had just made it up when Dad read to me about Peter Pan’s shadow.”
I stared at him, wide-eyed.
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe our reflections are all guardian angels. But what happened to mine?”
It was a scary black hole of a question, which got deeper as reflections kept disappearing. Soon my bedroom mirror showed only darkness. I was afraid to touch it, lest I be drawn into a dark mirror-world.
I longed to see her again, to reassure both of us that we were not alone. I grew much closer to my brother, who would tell me whether I’d combed my hair straight, and let me sit with him and his own reflection when I missed my own. The secret stayed between us. I stayed away from mirrors in public, and found that most people did not notice the missing reflections in other shiny surfaces.
One day, when I was seventeen, I came home to see my mother had done some spring-cleaning. And it was more than just a clean. The windows, my trophies, everything was so clean that I could see my reflection in it. I rushed to my room to at last get a good view of my angel, afraid that she would soon disappear again.
There she was, looking so scared that I tried to reach out and comfort her. She responded by throwing a sneaker at me.
The mirror remained intact, but the image broke into shards, reflecting pieces of her strangely unfamiliar bedroom. I tried to make sense of the images speeding across one shard, until I saw the end of it reflecting what was unmistakably blood. I watched as the blood took over the rest of the shard, and sprayed onto the others. I watched her beating heart approaching me from the mirror. Too late, I realised who needed to protect whom. Too late, I told her what we both needed to hear.
“You needn’t be afraid… I’m only your guardian angel.”
And for one last time, the mirror was accurate. As her heart stopped beating, my heart broke.
The first, I landed right-side up,
The next, I saved my skin.
The third, I won at cat and mouse,
The fourth, I dragged me in.
The fifth, I wasn’t curious.
The sixth, I wasn’t swung.
The seventh, I escaped the bag.
The eighth, I got your tongue.
So of my deaths, I’ve sidestepped eight
with guile and movements deft.
And while I’m in a quantum state,
I’ve still a half-life left.