Cats, not the musical Part I

When I was a kid I had two cats: Rajah and Shadow. Rajah was a feline princess and orange tabby that was neurotic, and I still have the six-inch scar to prove so after she clawed me in panic from seeing her mirrored reflection.

She was a hurricane kitty, meaning we adopted her after Andrew hit the Florida coast and washed away her mama.

That's probably not how it happened, but either way when it was time to adopt her, Judy, my mom, picked me up from school early to play a car game. She gave me a pen and pad of paper, and a kiss, and told me to write it down. So I wrote
Kiss, and we began driving.

It was a riddle. And thinking back on the past 17 years since this test I admit that to this day I'm not a superstar at solving riddles, word problems or ___ is to ___, as ___ is to ___. I blame it on the thick curtains of creativity blinding my logic...

We drove to the Jupiter Inlet. I don't remember what it was like that day, but I'm sure the waves were rolling in deep and into the waterways.

I'm sure the million-dollar South Florida yachts were bouncing bows while clinging on to their last yards of tried-but-failed tow in fishing rods.

I'm sure the boat-less locals were casting lines as their their scruffed bare feet squished between their toes the bait and guts water that had sloshed over the bucket beside them.

I'm sure there were palm trees, the air was salty, and the lighthouse stood as bold as ever.

Maybe we didn't get out of the car, but I wrote inlet not because I had figured it out, but because Judy pointed to the inlet and asked me what it was.

It gets better because we went to McDonalds. We went through the drive-thru, and Judy ordered an iced ted. She pointed to it, and told me to write it down. So I wrote
tea. We sat there in the car, parked in a lot and eating McDonalds as I studied the list, not because I had the notion to but because Judy told me to. My list read:


She was trying to spell out
KITTEN, but we didn't get that far. I'm pretty sure Judy mentioned it raining cats and dogs, and I began to imagine what that would really be like.

And, eventually, Rajah came into my life as the first noble cat after a history of hard-to-beat dogs. She was worth it (see photo).

Shadow showed up a fluffball of grey that was like putty in my hands. He melted in all the ways a cat could: drooling when purring, drooling when asleep, lying limp when picked up, lying limp when being spun around by a 12-year-old only child desperate for entertainment.

Shadow was what I envision a mentally handicapped sloth to be, only cuter and softer.

When Judy and I road tripped it from Florida to the Wild West for the first time we had books on tape, one specifically being The Shadow. The cover was a Dick Tracy knock-off imitating the detective-like character who could vanish behind corners in some crime ridden city. The narrator would say in a deep voice, "Who knows? The Shadow Knows!"

During Judy's time as a single mother with her daughter in college and only two cats to talk to, I'd witness her borderline psychotic cat communication on occasion when I visited.

One of the best outbursts was a late-night couch potato session in front of the tv, when out of nowhere Judy would look at Shadow, furrow her brow and cup her lips to lower her voice and say, "Who knows? The Shadow knows."

Awesome. But what I really said was, "Mom..." And she would say... nothing. She'd smile and scrunch her nose as if she knew her jokes stunk. I'm sure Shadow dug it.

I ditched pets that had to travel beyond glass bowls during college until that six-month stint with the Hell Demon came along. I called it Blackie, BK for short, though Lane Harlow and others who had blacklisted BK probably referred to it as the What The Fuck, Cat.

Blackie. I stood there at the pound, staring at a quad of kennels and chose:

Miss Angel: fat, cute, rolls around, and the card says loves ice cubes. And look! She's licking my hand... Aww...


Yes, I'll take the black one that looks malnourished, the black on that's swatting at my hand, the black one that reminds me of a bouncy ball in a foot locker. Yes, that's the pick of the litter!

And what a mistake that was. After too many days cleaning up after Blackie I was over it. A pool of diarrhea on the bean bag, on my bed sheet, on my vest that I still wear today...

Too many times Lane Harlow locked her up in a room. Too many times I got a call by a neighbor saying, "We found your cat." Too many times I repeated the phrase, "Well thanks, but it's an outdoor cat."

And too many times BK left me for the hair salon babes down Remington Street until one day BK just never returned. And I moved to Europe. And that was five years ago.

And now there's QT.