So proud of Louie right now. He finally went on the attack. Saw the neighbor’s cat, Boris, strutting through our patio like he owned the place–and pounced. Just bushwhacked him. Got his fangs in first. Really got into some fur. They went around and around in one of those cartoon cat carnival wheels of clawing. Screeching and yowling. Going completely saber tooth savage trying to tear each other apart. It was hard to call who was up.
But it was Boris who broke-off first. And ran away.
So victory goes to Louie.
Let’s see, that makes 147 wins for Boris, and Louie with 1.
Hey. It beats zero. By a lot.
And every comeback has to start somewhere.
Louie came inside all puffed-up with electricity. Tail all freaked-out and fat. Eyes wide-eyed crazy. Darting back and forth. Totally amped with EPFP.
Euphoric Post-Fight Psychosis.
Diagnosed it right away. He probably could use a shot of something hot. And a bottle of something cold. And a cocktail waitress leg to hold on to…while he catches his breath.
I went over to congratulate him.
“That was awesome, Lou. Full-on beast ambush.”
He padded over to his bowl for some water.
“I’ve been telling you about the element of surprise, haven’t I? Freak them first. That’s the rule.”
I went and got a can of real tuna. Tonight called for a celebration. For the past year, Boris has been tormenting Louie. We’d hear him crying outside. You’d get out there and find Louis all cornered and cowering. Boris swatting at him. Pretty much at will.
Lori and I would have to chase him away so Louie could make a break for home. He’d run inside and hide under the bed in a total puss-out panic.
I’d feel bad for him. Could really empathize. Unfortunately.
Still, I would think, “You’ve got claws, Louie. Give something back.”
But I’d keep it to myself. I didn’t want to lay any more shame on him.
Instead, I’d pet him and try to sooth his frightened fur. Talk to him. Like a father to his son. Maybe tell him a heart-warming allegory.
“Dave told me about this time when he was in prison and got clobbered to the floor. Some black cons who were watching, started shouting at him to get up. To keep bringing it. To dig down deep and rally.
‘Get up off that floor, boy! Don’t you dare stay down!’ they yelled. ‘Never stay down!’
It worked. Dave got up. And then managed to serve up a little something himself. A little something for his antagonist to chew on. Something to make a motherfucker think twice.
You see what I’m saying, Louie? It’s okay to take a few shots. It’s inevitable. Just make sure you make a motherfucker think twice.”
He’d be licking at his privates, not paying attention to my heartwarming allegory.
If I didn’t love Louie so much, I could have been a little ashamed of him. He’s just not as tough as our older cat, Bugsy.
Bugsy is all street. Gone all day. All night. Comes home only to eat and crash. Has an extensive network of people that feed him throughout the neighborhood. So he’s got the resources to go a ramblin’. Already at four months old, he’d be gone for days at a time. Jesus, I can’t begin to tell you how stressed-out I’d be waiting for him to come home. All the hand-wringing. And pacing.
Makes perfect karmic sense.
Anyways, he’s grown up into quite a shiny beast. Sleek and muscular. Savvy smart. Good cat chow charmer. Knows how to run game on a sucker. Good fighter, too. Boris and him have an uneasy truce these days. They’ve both hurt each other pretty good. So now Boris doesn’t even mess with Louie if Bugsy is in earshot.
Because Bugsy is a badass.
Louie, on the other hand…
He likes to stay close to home. Likes to play with his toys. In the living room. While the folks watch TV.
Sensitive. Well-behaved. Imagination Station crafts type of cat. Into the fun-for-the-whole-family paradigm. You know.
I’d look over at Lori quietly reading on the couch. Blame her.
He’s just too foofy to be tough. Too fancy. His fur puffs around his neck, giving him one of those Sir Walter Raleigh collar deals. His tail curls up like a fop’s feather. He looks like he’s wearing a fur coat. Which I guess he is. But I mean like a Park Avenue parka.
Like what I used to have to wear to New York City Public School 178. Oh man. The rabbit fur coat my uncle brought back from his trip to Switzerland. I can remember the dread after I opened the box. I knew what awaited. I would beg my mom not to make me wear it.
“But it looks like a girl’s coat!”
“They’re going to kill me.”
Took a lot punches, kicks, and snowballs because of that fucking thing. Made me too foofy-poofy to fight back. God, I hated that coat.
But I don’t anymore. Turns out, that after getting enough humiliating ass-kickings, you stop being so afraid of them. Then, well…something shifts. You can detach a little. Think a little clearer while getting one. Which helps you come up with good ideas. On the fly. Like using common household items to destroy your opponent’s will. And secure a glorious victory.
Indeed. Getting your ass kicked, is the first part of learning how to kick some back. Pretty essential, actually.
So yeah, I owe a lot to that coat. Although it might have made me into somewhat of an introvert. And a dreamer.
I’d watch Louie bat a twig across the living room floor in some pretend game he made up. For hours. Retreating into his imagination. Becoming a Dungeons and Dragons type. The kind that wears costumes at the comic convention. Some swashbuckling character out of Final Fantasy.
Alright, I’d think, so he’s a dweeb.
Maybe even gay.
What are you gonna do? Accept it. Love him to death anyway. He’s still your cat. So let him play with his little balls and stuffed dolls. Let him prance fancy. As long as he’s having fun, right? Live and let live. Not everybody can be a badass. Being cute is good too. You and Bugsy will just have to look out for him. Help protect his sissy ass. Since that’s just the way he is. And it’s okay.
To be the one that gets beat up by bullies.
Then out of nowhere…he’d go on these killing sprees.
Mice. Birds. Lizards. A bat.
All left on the kitchen floor. Headless.
What’s all this? Maybe he has another side. A darker, more dangerous one.
One night, while I was watering the planters on the side of the house. I watched him clap a fruit bat straight out the air. He shot out from his crouch like a surface-to-air missile and smacked his paws together. Dragged that flying sack of rabies right down. Real Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom predator of the savannah shit.
Sure surprised me. Well well. All that chasing a little ball around didn’t hurt his skills. That, and the fact that he’d finally been holding his own while sparring with Bugs meant he’s wasn’t a full-blown wanty-paste. I just wished he’d channel some of that blood lust to dealing with Boris. Take on a more daunting opponent.
Then I’d remember that he’s just a kid. Still learning the score. Taking his lumps. On his way up. And Boris is helping him.
Helping him figure it out.
Figure out that just because he’s a little sensitive, doesn’t mean he has to be a victim. That you’re never too foofy to fight back.
I think he took a big step tonight. He finally took it to Boris. Gave something to make him think twice. I smiled.
“It would’ve been okay if you lost, Lou. I’ll always love you.”
I put down the bowl of tuna and watched him eat.