So there’s this guy. He will remain nameless in order to protect and preserve his stupidity. And I will remain clueless as to why he chose me as the supposed answer to his prayers late one afternoon several years ago. Perhaps it’s because I exude ignorance and vulnerability much of the time. Eh, maybe. Or maybe it’s because I’m just so gosh darned kind and compassionate.
But I digress. The event unfolded thusly.
My telephone rang and on the other end of the line was a man who was anxious. A man who was fraught with despair. A man who was woefully desperate to unload a cat that he would later INSIST was mine.
“Hello, yes I believe I have your cat. She’s been here at my house for days and days and simply won’t leave. Could I swing by—say in about 10 minutes—so you could take a look to be sure? Otherwise I’ll have to take her to the SPCA—tonight—because I just can’t have this cat here anymore. It’s got to go.”
“You say you have my cat? MY cat? How on earth did you come to the (grandly erroneous and completely irrational) conclusion that it’s my cat you have?” I queried, curious as to how this man’s brain even functioned well enough to pluck ear hairs. What’s more, how did he know I even owned a cat? Maybe I had a pet hamster. Or a goat or something gerbil-ish lurking about.
“Well, your cat is black, right?” he quizzed.
“Right,” I answered, wondering how he knew that, too. I’d never met the man. How could he possibly know me—or my cat!?
“And he has a touch of white on his chest and belly,” I added like a fool. All the while I spoke, I had the stupid phone wedged under my chin and was running around the house like a madwoman lifting blankets and pillows, crawling around on all fours to peer beneath cabinets and couches, tearing apart the little cardboard nest my kids had built for him…frantically scanning the cluttered world in which I live for that fuzzy-headed nitwit of mine with chipmunk breath and a king-sized swagger. Had he escaped into the great outdoors? Again!? Of course, I felt horrible—like a slipshod mother who possessed not one stinking clue regarding the whereabouts of her whiskered and wayward son. Grok!
“Quick! Help me find Mr. Binks!” I shrieked to my kids, burying the receiver in an armpit—calling in the cavalry to help with the search and recovery effort.
“With white paws, too?” he asked. “This cat has white paws.”
“No. Binks’ paws are black. PLAIN BLACK. He has a bit of white on his chest and belly. Just a bit. But mostly he’s BLACK,” I clarified. Again.
“Well she’s a black and white cat and she’s a reeeeeally nice kitty, but I can’t keep her—like I said. I have other cats you know. She’ll definitely have to go to the SPCA,” he repeated emphatically—as if his insistence and caked on layers of guilt would suddenly make me realize, “Yes, come to think of it, my cat does have white paws! I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking! I must have imagined they were completely and entirely BLACK. Silly me.”
And so the debate continued over the black/white issue—ad nauseam, until I happened to think of another inconsistency in his story.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “My cat’s male. And neutered at that. You keep saying ‘she.’ Are you sure the cat you have is female? Because the one I have isn’t. He’s definitely a he. Not a she.”
He paused briefly, but the wheels were turning. Perhaps that strange little man thought that by saying it enough times and by closing his mind to the undeniable facts, he could actually WILL his cat into being mine—convincing not only himself in the process, but whoever happened to be on the receiving end of his spiel.
“Good grief!” I thought. “If only I could FIND the furry little shit! Then the ugliness would simply go away and I wouldn’t have to deal with this delusional individual anymore or with his silly stray. I could show him Mr. Binks, inky paws and all, and prove that HE DIDN’T HAVE MY FRICKING CAT—I DID!” Wishful thinking. Binks was nowhere to be found.
“We can’t find him, Mommy,” my incompetent progenies announced. “Maybe the nice man really does have Mr. Binks.”
“No he doesn’t, you inane twerps,” I muttered through clenched teeth, again with the receiver jammed under an armpit. “He’s around here SOMEWHERE!” I insisted. “Keep looking! KEEP LOOOOOOKING!!”
“Well, I guess you could come by,” I offered (to placate the crowd). “But just for a minute.” Since I can’t seem to locate my moronic ball of fluff at the moment! So he put Her Furriness in a cardboard box poked full of air holes and proceeded to shatter the land speed world record—racing to my home in six minutes flat. Lovely. Just lovely. A delusional man who is also punctual.
Fortunately, my charges found our cat in the mean time—mercilessly torturing something mole-ish in the back yard. “Look, Mommy! Binksy’s playing with his food!” they reported with glee. I marched out the door, cleverly scooped up the unwilling participant and locked him in the basement—proof positive that the numbskull was, in fact, in my care. Now I could deal more effectively with Mister I’ve-Got-Your-Cat—I-Know-I’ve-Got-Your-Cat!
After coming to an abrupt stop and an even more abrupt “hello,” the man leapt from his car and scurried around to the passenger side where the box lay in the back seat. “Here she is!” he announced, giddy with the prospect of unloading that which he longed to unload.
“Well, actually…I found my cat. He’s in the cellar. Really, he is. I’m so sorry, but this is not my cat.” I took a peek anyway. Naturally, I tried to be sensitive and to carefully explain what had happened without gloating or gushing over the glorious news that I (apparently) had been right. I. WAS. SO. RIGHT! Yes I was! Not surprisingly, the hapless cat in question looked almost nothing like Mr. Binks. She was enormous in comparison, much much older than our fuzzy feline and had HUGE patches of white all over her body—more like a Holstein than anything. And she happened to be long-haired—a detail that somehow never made it into our conversation.
At any rate, the man and his cat finally went away, tails dragging and heads hung low. I felt completely awful. Honest, I did. Like a despicable creature devoid of remorse or compassion. A shameless schmuck who failed to rise to the occasion and offer a helping hand. Like someone who under ordinary circumstances is virtually incapable of saying “no.”
But who managed this time.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel