Ruth was an animal freak. The first time she was gonna sleep at my place she asked if she could bring her dog. Dog dander wasn’t as bad for my allergies as cat dander, but it wasn’t good. I had had a tableau in mind for a couple of years by then, though, and I already had the glass vase and the black sheets. I just needed Ruth. God, I LOVE antihistamines.
Being around cats was way worse—my eyes teared and itched, my nose sneezed and ran, and everything wheezed. Once my body recognized a cat house I had to decide if my discomfort outweighed my imagined payoff, which would have to be sex or a really good drug to warrant consideration.
Ruth found some expensive potion said to eliminate the allergic effects of animal dander and rubbed it on her cat and dog to good effect. It got me through the night and helped me add to my trove of pleasant memories, which now can make all the difference.
I’ve never had anything against cats themselves, and some of the ones I’ve run across actually sought me out. I’m a little catlike myself, though not graceful or dignified.
A few weeks ago my son got a kitten from some guy at the Farmers’ Market, and I figured it was fate. After our dog Spock died, Janice and I had talked sporadically about getting a pet, but neither of us wanted anything else to do. I thought of the kitten as therapeutic, and that was enough.
I was right, too. Hobbes has indeed been therapeutic as all get-out and as cute as required. He’s friendly and affectionate and not a bit standoffish, just what was needed.
He also took to his litter box right away. That may be run-of-the-mill behavior for a cat, but I’ve never lived with a cat, and I was impressed and reassured by Hobbes’s grasp of things.
Then there’s the dark side. A woman was the first to succumb to talking baby talk, and then there was no containing its insidious spread to her grandson, though little more than a baby himself, and then to her daughter and everybody around.
I’ve so far resisted talking baby talk to Hobbes, and I should say here that I didn’t talk baby talk to my own babies. To be virtually driven to talk drivel by another species is alarming, let me tell you.
I am not a babbler yet, neither a blatherer nor a ditherer, for which I’m not so much proud as grateful, because I don’t know that we have a choice in such matters. Some do this, some that. I can’t deny my own fall from grace, though, and I freely admit my current state. Recently basking in the satisfaction of not babbling to Hobbes, I noticed my voice sounding remarkably like Miss Moreland’s, my kindergarten teacher, when she read to us. I still don’t babble, but I do coo.