A year ago yesterday you escaped the engorged cat cavity of your unfit mother, just a wet muff of fur -- a wool mitten after a snowball fight, perhaps -- with bleary eyes and a natural inclination to suckle. If I know you, you immediately mewed and begged to be someone, anyone's little spoon. It was that neediness that drew us to you at the shelter in that dizzying room of whirring fur, rank with cat BO. We knew we had to have you (because you probably weren't going to let go of our shoelaces).
When your partner in crime turned a year old we spent the day nuzzling his classically handsome face and cooing "Happy birthday, Hallie." We figured he wouldn't remember his first birthday anyway, so there was no need for a big blow out. Next year we could get pointy hats and prop a candle into the middle of a tuna cake. A clown, a bounce house, some neighbor strays.
We forgot your birthday, Orin, and instead spent about 15 minutes worried we had killed you. Not on purpose, bud. Any court of law would have ruled it kittyslaughter.
We were sitting at the kitchen table when we heard a cat being tortured in the alley. The sound was a mix of piercing yelps and guttural bass. (It might have been cat sex, come to think of it. I'm not to familiar with the sex noises of felines). Chuck and I looked at each other and immediately began counting kittens. One. Just Hal.
I'd been in and outside a few times: I took out the garbage, I went for a run, I chilled on the porch glider. What if one of those times you had slipped through my feet unnoticed. What if you had been so caught up in the fly you were chasing that you didn't notice a doberman yanking your spleen through your pink little kitten nostril?
I looked upstairs, under the bed, in the closet, in the spare room where you like to perch on an upended mattress. I looked downstairs in the laundry room and storage area. Chuck stood in the kitchen clicking the cat snack alarm, feeding your obedient older brother green triangles of fish-flavored rewards. I walked through the yard yelling "Orin," as if you knew English or responded to will.
Eventually you crawled out of some hiding spot in the basement, blurry-eyed with lint in your fur. Chuck called it your "16 Candles" moment. Which means that somewhere in this neighborhood, another cat is holding court with a pair of your kitty drawers. We were both relatively glad you were safe.
It's been a trying few months with you two. I'm reduced to drinking out of a mason jar as we speak, as you've been breaking glasses at a rate of at least one per week. You knocked out the screen on the back door. We can no longer keep anything on the mantel unless we want to pick shards of its remains out of our socks. A few months ago we began work on turning one of the spare bedrooms into a cat-free oasis where we can enjoy breakables at our leisure.
Sometimes, usually when I'm drunk, I still find you guys adorable though. The way you walk everywhere in tandem, like how Ponch and John patrolled the California Highways as a team. How you clean each others ears and assholes and always hug each other to sleep. How one of you knocks things off of countertops and the other one points and laughs. I wonder what Toonses would make of this nightmare. I think that if he was still here he would do what we do: Find places to hide.
This is why we can't have nice things,