The other day I was having a conversation with this weirdo, who you will learn has the reasoning skills of a flip flop and a personality to match. Being the thoughtful person that I am I probed a little to find a topic of interest for us to discuss. You see this person is a colleague who has the very same affliction as me: overly prepared for all situations and 15 minutes early to everything. This lady and I are staring blankly at each other across the table, waiting for the other meeting guest to arrive. She taps her pencil on her notebook and I glance over at the clock on the wall; 14 minutes and 38 seconds until the slackers show up.
As I pick a piece of hair off my blouse I remark, “It seems like no matter what I do I’m always covered in cat hair.” Now I’ll go ahead and admit that looking back, this probably wasn’t the most stellar approach at a conversation, but none-the-less I was trying to fill up the eerie silence that precedes exciting meeting time. My colleague responds with an “Hmf” before pretending to reread the meeting agenda.
I really don’t know how to take subtle cues and therefore I follow my first statement up with, “But it’s totally worth it, you know.”
The lady looks at me blankly, “Sorry, worth what?”
“You know, it’s worth all the hair and mess to have a cat.”
My first indication that this person was wacko was she actually rolled her eyes at me following this explanation. I heard the voice in my head say oh “no she just didn’t,: and this was right before she said, “I wouldn’t know, I don’t like cats.”
I’m really good at hiding it when I’m offended and this time was no exception. I thoughtfully tilted my head sideways and with real earnest I asked, “Oh really and why it that?”
She took a deep breath and launched into a tale of how when she was a child the neighborhood cat had scratched her on the arm when she was trying to pet it. “The cat was so deranged and just lashed out at me for no apparent reason and I was fairly young too. The scratch only bled a little bit, but it later got red and infected and I remember it being pretty painful. I think they had to put me on some meds to get it to resolve itself.” When she finished this story I was very conscious to show on my face a fair amount of sympathy although I was thinking: so you hate an entire species of animal because you got a minor scratch that was of no horrible consequence over three decades ago? That totally doesn’t make any sense you flipping weirdo. You probably deserved the scratch because you tried to pick the cat up by its neck and it probably got infected because you didn’t bathe properly.
I have a sort of affinity for cats due to the fact that I’m currently alive and well because of the actions of a short-haired orange feline named Johnny. I grew up on a lake and like most kids with those types of surroundings I spent my time hanging out on the fishing pier staring into the water. Regularly a cat would accompany me on these expeditions and on this particular day Johnny was my companion. Standing at the end of the pier I noticed Johnny cat seemed overly interested in something just behind me. I’d been staring into the water for a few minutes and when the cat’s interests got my attention I decided to jump back to reality. My first thought was that Johnny wanted to play fetch with what appeared from the corner of my vision to be a stick.
“Hey, John John, you want to play fetch?” I turned around to pick up said stick with the intention of tossing it in the water where the cat would most certainly not fetch it, but he would probably paw at it or at least stare at it for a minute or two. I must have lost all the color in my face when I realized that Johnny was not eyeing a stick sitting on the pier, but rather it was a water moccasin. For those of you unfamiliar to these snakes, they are highly poisonous and from my experience, very aggressive. I know people will say that snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them, but that isn’t true in all cases. Probably the same people will report that faced with a life threatening situation your life flashes before your eyes. This was not my experience. As I stared into the dark, beady eyes of that snake I ran through all my options, which took all of two seconds. There was only one way out of this situation and that was to jump into the potentially snake infested water (which although appears like an option, really isn’t a viable one). So I had really no option but to stand still and hope that the snake slithered back to hell from where it came and left me and my cat alone to stare into the murky water. Apparently this was not what the aggressive snake had in mind as he poised himself in striking position and eyed me like I was holiday pudding.
I’m not entirely sure how much time passed, probably only seconds, but Johnny didn’t waste any time once he sized up the situation. You know that moment when, whether it’s a person or an animal, they own up to a situation and decide to attempt to be a victor in a highly dangerous situation? Well that was Johnny’s moment and I witnessed it. In a flash the agile cat sprang from a sitting position through the air and landed with ferocity on top of the snake. The next little bit was a blur of fur and skin, hissing and screaming. I knew I had to act fast and so I hopped to the far side of the pier and ran around the brutal battle that was being waged in my honor.
A minute later I arrived breathless at my mom’s room, “Mom!!! There’s a snake and Johnny’s fighting him. Quick, we gotta go save him!!!” My mother quickly snuffed out her cigarette, ran to the side of the house, grabbed the machete and then followed me to the pier. I remember thinking that the cat might be dead by the time we got to him and I felt guilt as I ran down to the water’s edge. However it was silly of me to think that awful snake would stand a chance against such a nimble and talented creature. When we arrived at the pier Johnny was simply bathing himself, completely disinterested in the lifeless carcass that lay inches away. I’m guessing that since my mom had gone to the trouble of bringing the machete all the way there she planned on using it. Furthermore, it’s always good to make doubly certain that evil snakes are in fact dead and so mom chopped its head off and chucked it in the lake.
Sitting in that meeting room and feeling repulsed by my colleague’s dislike for cats I thought about Johnny Cat and his inspirational act of courage. He actually only passed away a few years ago, making him the longest living cat I’d ever known. He lived for so long that at one point I thought maybe he had some super powers and he used them to his favor in the Snake Battle of 1992. I smiled to myself and glanced back over to the clock, 12 minutes and 17 second until the meeting started and I was already all talked out.