Friday, January 27, 2012

Thou Art the Great Cat

Diego by Shem

Why is it my cat always gets the last word?  Granted he’s getting older.  Granted I spoil him R-O-T-T-E-N.  And granted I’m a total whack job, graveling at his paws and showering him with pathetic care…getting up every time he wants out.  Sitting back down…Getting up 5 seconds later to let him back in.  Up down up down.  I tend to lose my chair on the “ups.”  Open the door. Close the door.  In.  out.  I’m at the service of his Royal Highness and he knows it.  
It’s completely over-the-top.  

When I go on holiday or small jaunts to visit friends or family, I call him every day.  My partner places the phone up to his ear, and I begin my "mama cat" rambling that goes something like this:
“Hi good boy.” (Smooch kiss smooch.  More kissing, smooching sounds)  “I love you, good boy... Diego, who’s the good boy? You! You’re the good boy!” (Smooching and kissing sounds)… “I’ll be back. I’ll be right back.  I love you good boy.” (Smooch….kiss… kiss.)
Then comes the pitiful, routine question straight from my sorry-ass mouth,
“Did he respond?”  My partner usually lies and says he did; that in fact, he rubbed his head against the phone and his purr went up several decibels in volume.  Occasionally, she tells me the truth, which is distressing to hear, “ I think he’s mad at you.  He just turned his back to the phone.”
My cat is smarter than all the rest. He's bilingual. ("?Como estas, Diego?" I say. “Meow. Meow.” He responds on cue to my question.)  He insists on my lap, even when there are 5 available chairs, 
3 hand-knitted “kikis” (The word he knows for blankets) lying around; fluffed up to his liking, a sofa and a king-size bed. (With my clothes out so he can curl up in them)  When he’s on my lap, I do not move.  I don’t get up to answer the phone.  I don’t shift my legs, though they’re aching and going numb.  And here’s the worst, I hold my urine for unthinkable amounts of time in order to not disturb him.  He’s the King of the Castle, the crowned head, majestic ruler of… 
The Muslim prophet Mohammed is said to have found a cat sleeping on his robe, so he cut a hole in his robe rather than disturb the sleeping cat.

It amazes me that I have been fearless in a classroom of 30 sixth graders, relentless as captain of a trailer park’s ship of fools, stood face to face (and held my ground) with vicious, right-wing politicians, yet, I melt like butter in a hot fry pan when it comes to Diego.  But I am far from alone in my love and adoration of the feline.   The “love affair” dates back to 6,000 BCE and in many cultures, especially Egyptian.  This is a brief, fascinating compilation of the cat’s history.  The Celts, Native Americans, Egyptians and more held the cat in high-regard, however, Christianity turned these positive traditions with cats upside-down by connecting cats with Satan, witches, evil, and other negative things that came to mind.  Cats were seen as accomplices and often hung with their masters when convicted of heresy.  The Pilgrims shared these opinions of cats when they came to the Americas, and thus our society has many superstitions about cats, for instance, that black cats are unlucky, evil or ill omens. 
Thank the Goddess, the Christians were unsuccessful at burning them all at the stake!    Otherwise, more and more plagues would have besieged us and I would not be sitting here writing to y’all with Diego curled up on my lap.

Thou art the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; thou art indeed the Great Cat. (Inscription on the Royal Tombs at Thebes)

Diego’s independence is inspiring, to say the least.  We all should be so forthcoming with our own.  It’s something that can’t be taught from a textbook, nor measured on weekly-standardized examinations that examine absolutely nothing.  An independent thinker is the individual who is able to free himself/herself from the confines of conformity.   It is something, like magic; acquired by testing new waters, taking bold risks, experiencing chance encounters, walking through darkness; 
The capacity to show us things we haven't seen before, the knack of reopening questions.
Of course, becoming comfortable as an independent thinker requires one to think outside of the box and persistently question authority.   Many consider Einstein one the most independent thinkers of the 20th Century.  He thought of himself in that way!  When speaking of his first wife, 
a Serbian doctor, he once said,
“…a creature who is my equal and who is as string and independent as I am.”
His use of the word “creature” ruffles me a bit but light out over that 'cuz  it’s a direct quote.  

I consider Susan Sontag one of the most independent thinkers of our time. Through four decades, she was described, variously, as explosive, anticlimactic, original, derivative, naïve, sophisticated, approachable, aloof, condescending, populist, puritanical, sybaritic, sincere, posturing, ascetic, voluptuary, right-wing, left-wing, profound, superficial, ardent, bloodless, dogmatic, ambivalent, lucid, inscrutable, visceral, reasoned, chilly, effusive, relevant, passé, tenacious, ecstatic, melancholic, humorous, humorless, deadpan, rhapsodic, cantankerous and clever. No one ever called her dull.  And even if you disagree with her writing, you still hunger to read it because it’s unusually stimulating.
And look at her “cat-like” features.

Along with Einstein and Sontag, Noam Chomsky, Pablo Picasso, Ayn Rand all line my long list of independent thinkers.  And who can deny that Emma Goldman, known to her friends as “rebel woman” shouldn't have a place on that list.  Many would place Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on their lists.  Not me.  Fairly predictable, I suppose, but I wouldn't.   
Clearly, I'm weird in this way.
We all have such lists; the thinkers, the contributors, the heroes and heroines, both public figures, as well as, personal acquaintances.  Of course, one of my personal favorite, who lit my feminist fire when I was but a youngster, was Cat Woman; the only strong female character Batman ever had to face.  Sexy too.

Who can forget the "purr"-fect Eartha Kitt?

I have a need to conclude, as I'm starting to annoy Sir Diego with my fidgeting.  
I’m sure some of you are more than ready for me to do so! 
Part of me wants to write the words “the end” and be done with it;  just send today’s damn musings out for god's sake!
Aww…"the end."  Two words that can bring a pleasing feeling at the end of a movie or send shivers down your back when talking about your own life.
The end is the closest thing you can see in all of your nightmares and every haunting tale. But also, it's the comfort of knowing that green eggs and ham are truly a respectable dish when the book is done.
The End.
"Meow”~ tpg


  1. Hi Val, I enjoyed this blog, but i sure hope you and Diego are getting better. Love Ya.

  2. Great Cat Blog! Diego... Independence is thy middle name. Same for Kitty the Pooh who is now nestled in on a stack of poems and papers, precariously close to my computer. (We just played the let me out/let me back in game.) Ever see the photo of Molly Ivins with her Siamese wrapped around her neck as she sat working at her computer? The Egyptians have nothing on us cat lover writers. And here's to Mohammed...didn't know we had a love of cats in common. But calling Kitty on the phone when I'm on vacation? Never! (Of course, there's no one left at my home when I leave and Kitty hasn't yet learned to answer the phone.) Also enjoyed your list of independent thinkers...I'd place you right up there with the best of them, Ms. Blogger. Hope you're feeling better...and please give Diego lots of lovin' from me and my side-kick, Kitty the Pooh.