July 24, 2006

An open letter

Dear Little Thing,

I don't know who or what you are, but it's time you learned about me.

I came to live with Sam and Monica during the summer of 1999. I'm not proud to say this, but I was living in a cardboard box at a trailer park in Winnemucca, Nevada when they found me. Thankfully, they recognized me as royalty (it must have been my blue eyes), and rescued me.

I can't say the adjustment was easy. Having never been inside of a house (or, more accurately, a questionable duplex), I wasn't sure what dangers might lurk around the corner. However, I knew that Sam and Monica were on my side. I avoided the center of rooms, refused to touch my paws to linoleum, and only ate when Sam would hold me in his protective hand. Somehow, we got through this traumatic time, the three of us.

After a few days of deliberation, they named me Oedipa. I immediately developed a complex. I came to learn that such was the penance for living with two English majors: one can easily end up named after a LSD-addicted housewife in a Thomas Pynchon novel.

Despite their eccentricities, I grew to love Sam and Monica. I slept between them every night, napped on their laps when they watched television, and climbed the screen door, meowing incessantly, whenever they dared venture outside.

Still, I've never been a pushover. When they tried to bathe me, I drew the line. Thankfully, I found a great way to put a stop to that behavior. Hint: It helps to have retractable claws and sharpen them often.

Just when I started to get comfortable with the duplex, it became winter and I got a new roommate. He was gray, mangey, and had no business living among polite company. I tried bringing my complaints to Sam and Monica, but they were oblivious. In fact, they seemed oblivious to the other cat altogether - until the day that Monica spotted him in the hallway, screamed, and ran into the bedroom wielding a broom. A couple of days later, Sam spotted the mangey cat under the bed while looking for me. I'll never forget the look on Monica's face when he said, "Yep, there's a cat under the bed. But it's not Oedipa."

The roommate was quickly banished (on account of being feral) and life returned to normal until Sam and Monica made the questionable decision of packing me into a carrier and driving 180 miles to Reno. I made sure to voice my opinion on the matter, providing Sam with a meow of complaint every 3-5 seconds. Eventually, the meowing worked, and we reached my new apartment.

In the apartment, I experienced the outdoors for the first time since my pre-adoption days, thanks to tiny forays onto the enclosed apartment balcony. I began to meet Sam and Monica's "friends," but none of them met my lofty relationship standards.

While we lived there, I saved Monica's life many times. Sometimes, she would hit her head on the corner of an open cabinet door. Once, Sam dropped a 10-pound box of Arm & Hammer laundry detergent onto the back of her neck while she sat on the floor wrapping Christmas gifts. Another time, he tickled her. Every time she cried, I would run over to her. I would meow. I would purr. Sometimes I would lick the tears off her cheeks. I'm a good cat. It's who I am.

A few years ago, Sam and Monica rewarded me with my own house, complete with stairs to run on, pools of sunshine to nap in, and a backyard bird feeder to observe.

It might seem like the house was a great gift, but I've earned my keep here. I cuddle with them while they watch non-cat-related television. I chase moths, albeit halfheartedly, but with more effort than I've ever seen Monica put into the task. I've even played along with Monica's behavioral science experiments, letting her teach me such as abstract concepts as patience, using string cheese and Special K. Every morning, I remind Sam and Monica that they are loved, climbing onto both of them and trying my hardest to persuade them to stay in bed. It actually works, once or twice a week.

I have a certain fondness for these people, and I know that the feeling is mutual. They tell me as much when they rub my tummy, scratch my back, or pick me up despite my meows of protest.

So as for you, Little Thing, I am on to you. I knew about you before they did. The moment they came home from Montana two weeks ago, I sensed that something was different. I picked up on the subtlety of hormones (which is odd, because I'm spayed) and changed my behavior accordingly, just in case danger was at hand. I started sleeping next to Monica again. I stopped napping under the bed and followed them around with every waking moment. I meowed more often than usual, but they still didn't seem to get it.

Well, now we all know that you are on the way. Monica sleeps almost as much as I do. When she is not sleeping, she reads clunky, non-cat-related books. She rubs her stomach and uses a tone of voice that is supposed to be reserved for me.

I don't know much about you, but I know that we have a choice to make. We can be a team, and we can love these people together, or I will take you on as my nemesis, just as I did the mangey gray cat. You remember what happened to him - and I doubt you'll fare quite as well skulking around the back alleys of Winnemucca. Especially if you're not equipped with retractable claws.

So what's it going to be, Little Thing? You don't know yet? Well, I'll just stay here, cuddled up with Monica, making certain she knows I'm committed to her, waiting for you to respond. After all, I am highly skilled in a little thing called patience.

Your future relation of some sort,


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