Wednesday, September 29, 2010
A MATTER OF ROUTINE
Both the cat and Jerry inherited me, not the other way around. Both were well-established in their habits before the acquisition came about: that is, I did not affect the way that they turned out. They did it themselves.
Which is probably just as well, as Jerry once said to me, “I don’t understand how you can make a large event go off without a hitch and have it run so well, and yet you can’t find your bra when you get dressed in the morning.”
“Well,” I replied, That’s just the way it is.” To which he answered, “No, it’s because you never put anything back where it belongs.”
And he was right. That is my secret failing, though obviously not so secret now.
I live loose. Not morally, of course, but in how I operate. If I am on an errand in my car, I will never drive back using the same road that I used getting there. I read the newspaper in the morning but it MUST lie on the couch the rest of the day because surely I’m going to want to read parts of it again before it goes out to the trash. My clothes end up in the closet eventually, but what do you think chair backs and door knobs are for, pray tell?
When Jerry and I were talking about marriage, he asked me how I handled bill paying. I showed him 12 big brown envelopes, each marked with a month. Into each appropriate month went the bills to be paid, and once paid, they went back into that envelope with the notation of the date I paid them. That was it. He inquired as to balancing the checkbook. I told him I did it occasionally.
He was aghast. “Well,” he huffed. “If we get married you’ll have to let me do the books.”
I was no fool. I knew his way was best, so the issue was resolved and eventually we both formally said, “We Do.”
But you are asking, what does that have to do with the cat?
Jer operates on routines and I operate on a “do what you feel like” theory. The cat also bases her life using the “routine” theory. As such, she has turned into the world’s most predictable cat. She mostly squeaks instead of meows, which accounts for her name. But on occasion she does meow and it means we have forgotten something. We then have to figure out what it is that we haven’t done for her.
Her morning has two phases: Jerry’s and mine. His job is to feed her a couple of “cat treats” to keep her occupied while he prepares her real breakfast of Fancy Feast. It has to be “just so” – 6 seconds in the microwave, stirred to cool any hotspots and then placed just so on her cat mat. After she has eaten, she grooms herself and waits for me to get up. She doesn’t meow at all during this time, because Jerry follows the plan!
Things are quiet then until I get out of bed. The minute I head for the kitchen she runs me a foot race. She meows until I pull out the breadboard for her to sit on. (I have created a plastic covering for it so it stays clean.) It is Petromalt time. I squeeze a strip of Petromalt on my right index finger. With my left hand I grab her fur at the back of her neck, like a mother kitten does, pull her head back and simultaneously use my thumb and middle finger to pry open her mouth. Quick as a flash I insert my gooey forefinger into her mouth and scrape the Petromalt off onto her tongue. As her mouth closes I stroke her neck under her chin. At the conclusion of this feeding she jumps down and leaves the kitchen. Obviously she likes the process.
Which reminds me of an old joke I read once about a farmer who two days in a row took his sow in a wheelbarrow to a neighboring farm where a nice fat boar lived, with the intent, of course, of facilitating a crop of piglets. The third day the farmer stepped out the door and found the sow already sitting in the wheelbarrow! Well, that’s how I know Squeaky likes the Petromalt ordeal.
If there is any more meowing, it is always about an hour later when it is time for her taste of butter. She has learned that I butter my toast so she wants hers too, but without the toast, thanks. She will not stop meowing until I provide her with a small glob of butter in her dish. That is the last meowing of the day. From here on out she reverts to squeaking.
She has totally adopted Jerry’s routine-oriented life. If I were more that way, I could remember to do these things for her before she gets herself in a snit about them. But that’s not my style, so I tolerate all the loud reminders.
And just so you won’t think I’m totally weird I must state the following: Yes, cat lovers do strange things and yes, any time we get tired of it we can stop.