Monday, March 12, 2007

My Hips Don't Lie (And I Resent the Implication That They Ever Would)

Things That My Hips Do In Lieu of Lying

Omit pertinent details
Change the subject
Laugh uncomfortably and then turn red
Fake chest pains

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cat Fight

The Protagonist

I adopted a cat, and a lifestyle, four months ago. Her name is Lady Jane Felsham and she is four to six years old.

Likes: sleeping on her back, drinking fresh water from a sink, plush rugs, watching activity in the hallway, smelling night air through a protective screen
Dislikes: synthetic fabrics, people who touch her paws, John Denver, Schoenberg, inexpensive gifts
Assets: Cutest cat I have ever seen
Liabilities: $250 vet costs for urinary tract infection
Equity: Still the cutest cat I have ever seen

Before being thrown out on the street and saved by the local shelter (in what I can only assume was a traumatic series of events), Lady Jane Felsham was spayed, frequently groomed, microchipped, fattened, and meticulously trained. She knows not to walk on paper, not to scratch furniture, and not to get up onto a bed until invited. I estimate she was out on the streets for two hours before getting rescued. She could not survive any longer, and even in that short period of time she was attacked and suffered a cut to her left flank. Generations of careful breeding accidentally bred the self-preservation instinct right out of her. She uses her paws and teeth for swats and half-bites that train me to scratch her chin, ears and chest, but to leave her tummy, sides and feet alone. When posed with the question of fight or flight, Lady Jane chooses elegant flight, and then howls like a baby until I can dump a glass of water on her opponent's head.

The Antagonist

Enter my sister's cat, the Gypsycat, aka River Rock. (No lengthy explanation needed- when groomed, the Gypsycat closely resembles a slick river rock.)

Likes: You. A lot. Too much.
Dislikes: Anything that comes between her and you. Even if it's you.
Assets: $1000 in medical bills, paid in full
Liabilities: none
Equity: $1000, quickly depreciating as senility sets in

The Gypsycat had control of the upstairs level of our house for the three months prior to the Lady's arrival. She is estimated to be any age above or around 18, and the first 15 years of her life were spent outside in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She survived intense winters, stormy summers, coyotes, feral dogs, slow drivers, and bad art. She was a dreadlock-covered wraith at the time of her adoption by my sister, and lived as a result of months on a heating pad and surgery to remove her rotten teeth (unfortunately, the last clue to her real age.) The little scrapper is a mix of overwhelming gratitude and neediness, with an unexpected side of entitlement and rage.

The Conflict

River rock, through grateful to be alive, has decided that her room and and the hallway are not enough territory. I have overheard whispers about Manifest Destiny, and have watched as she skulks down the stairs and around corners, looking for a new land. She has lived a difficult life, and dammit, she wants more. Meanwhile, Lady Jane positions herself on a pillow, crosses her paws, and puzzles over a distant memory of a peaceful existence when she was able to slowly inspect her territory without fear of a slimy little brown creature trying to pull out her fur. Her requests are simple: A green couch near a window from which to watch the birds. A carpetted stair on which to sharpen her claws. Two sinks of water from which to choose. Unfortunately, everything she desires is located at the end of a closely-guarded gauntlet.

The Resolution

Although the scheduled peace talks were fruitless and disappointing, a potentially-permanent resolution appears to have been reached while the principal mediator was at the gym or watching TV. The Gypsycat spent last week perched on a chair facing Lady Jane's room, a strategic power play meant to bully Lady Jane into confinement. Lady Jane met the challenge head-on, using her large size (interpreted as strength) and her bountiful leisure time (interpreted as tenacity) as intimidation tools to overturn the extended staring contest. The Gypsycat has moved on, claiming the staircase as her new territory, and allowing Lady Jane access to the hallway and her personal paradise, the master bedroom.