Well, here's something: our cat disappeared for 2 days.
Now, I have never been much of a pet fan having not grown up with them. It was my father's belief that human animals remained indoors, all others out, and I bought it hook, line and sinker. My husband's life, however, has always included pets with dogs bookending the front half, cats the other. To his credit, he never actively lobbied for a pet but when we moved to the country, I did notice him staring longingly at other friends animals. Sigh, his eyes would say, his hands petting, petting, petting the animal a beat or two longer than most would.
So when he and my daughter lured a stray cat into our home several Halloween's ago, I was essentially non-committal. I saw the pure, un-adulterated joy on their faces and made a point of not voicing my displeasure. It was their cat, I had decided, not mine. I would be impervious to the cat's presence and would do what was required to keep it alive - feeding, watering. In short, I would be a human can-opener.
But guess what? I love this damn thing! Guess who let's him out at 2:33 AM every morning to let it out to murder mice? Moi. Guess whose lap it sits on every morning while e-mail is being checked? Moi. Guess whose keyboard he's stepping on as we speak? You feel me.
So when our friends came with their docile dog this weekend I assumed that the cat would sum up the situation and see it for what it was: a temporary situation. You aren't being replaced, Lucy, I tried to tell her with my eyes when she spied the dog and arched her back menacingly. Don't you see ? This is part of the social contract: friends come, you accommodate. Understand?
I guess not because she took off. And we pretended not to be bothered by it.
"She'll be back," my husband kept saying every time he saw me looking anxiously outside.
"Are you sure?" I kept asking.
"Yeah," my husband kept saying. "Of course."
The way he said it made me not believe.
And then the guests left and I started to worry in earnest until I heard the kids yelling from outside that they had found Lucy. She had found safe harbour under some giant hostas near the back of the house. She's never really left, I thought as I ran towards her. She was always close to home.
I ran outside. I gave her a hug. She made her body strangely rigid and finally, after a few awkward moments, meowed in protest. Let me go, she seemed to be saying, and feed me, God Damn it! Let's get this place back to normal!
And next time you bring a dog here, leave the food where I can find it. That's your job.