Every morning, Louie wants out. He has an important engagement. He has to fight Boris, one of the other neighborhood cats. I’ve written about their relationship before. Humans might recognize it. It’s a relationship based purely on antagonism. All they do is fight. Or wait to fight. That’s their deal. Their mutual agreement. To be sworn enemies. Forever.
Each AM, Louie patiently waits for Boris to pop his paw up through a warped part of our deck. That’s the signal to begin a hissing, yowling and howling cat brawl–with each one giving and taking swats while ducking in and away from the fightin’ hole. It’s an amazing thing to witness. Louie will claw from above. Boris from below. They’ll go at it like that for twenty minutes or so, their cries and moans echoing off the lake, which I’m sure the neighbors appreciate. Ah, the soothing sounds of nature. “Dear God, is somebody strangling a baby out there?!”
Sorry about that, but you never saw Marlon Perkins or Jim run out and try to break up a cheetah fight on Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Oh hell no. They stayed put–crouching behind some bush. At least Jim did, while Marlon had his ass cheek parked on a TV studio desk in Nebraska. The point is they only observed. If they ever did deal with some lion, it was with a tranquilizer dart. Tag his ear and set him free. Back to a life of tearing apart Gazelles. Eating. Banging lionesses. Eating. Napping.
Back to nature.
And Nature always takes Its course. Eventually, Louie and Boris grow tired or bored of the sparring, cease fire, and go their separate ways. Until next time.
I’m glad they’ve decided to fight like this, with each cat relatively protected from the other. It’s better than when they used to free-style it top-side. That’s when they would really fuck each other up. Fur tornado shit. I’d feel compelled to run out all clapping and flapping trying to break them up. Cat fights, whether in a whorehouse bar or on a sunny patio deck, are hard to break up, and it’s easy for a well-meaning bystander to get hurt.
So this is better. And they came up with it on their own. It’s a morning ritual I’ve learned to tolerate. Even respect. They obviously both need it. Or Louie wouldn’t wait. And Boris wouldn’t show up. Right on time.
One morning, I saw the Blonde Beast hurrying over from across the street. He was a little late for his appointment. I figured I’d prevent him from showing up at all, thereby making Louie winner by default. A victory without violence. So I chased Boris off with a bullwhip and a club with a big rusted nail through it. Then I went inside and looked out on the patio. There was Louie. Waiting.
Waiting for his hit of Ultra-Violence. From his favorite enemy.
But now waiting in vain.
Because I ruined it.
I robbed the fight.
And denied him the fur-bristling rush.
It fucking broke my heart.
What have I done? Me and my misguided do-gooderism. That’s when I decided, if the boys want to fight, let ’em.
I remember when I was in 7th grade, I was trading trash-talk with this other kid, Mark Koroknay. We were at the Lakeside Village pool and my mom was there. She told us we should duke it out and that she would referee. She lead us to a patch of grass where we could fight. I remember feeling embarrassed that my mom was taking such an active part of our conflict. I’m sure Mark was wary of the impartiality of her refereeing. He didn’t need to be. My mom reffed a clean fight.
After trading some initial blows, we went down to the ground, where he got me in a headlock. My mom stood by, waiting for me to either tap-out or turn it, but I couldn’t break out. The best I could do was to reach around and hit Mark in the side of the head– repeatedly rabbit punch him with my middle knuckle. The harder he choked, the harder I hit. It was a classic match-up, The Choke versus the Chinga-su.
We fought like that for a long time. Planes flew overhead and landed at the airport. A newly married couple opened up a joint checking account. A retiree put on a second coat of varnish on a cabinet he built. Finally, after our shadows grew long enough across the length of the lawn, my mom stepped in and stopped the fight. She called it a draw, and made us shake hands–which we did. And that was it. No hard feelings.
Actually, we became friends after that. Mark and I used to party together. He was a cool, funny dude. If you’re reading this, Mark, good fight, bro. Was real close to crying “Uncle.” Maybe my mom did rob you.
Now, I’m not sure if you could extrapolate a Geo-political policy based on these two examples of controlled aggression. But I could. That’s because when it comes to extrapolating Geo-political policy, I’m notoriously lazy. I’d probably spend more time coming up with a jingle for a breakfast food than I would deciding the fate of the free world.
“We don’t have to rush into every conflict to play peacemaker. That’s a good way to get hurt, and make everybody involved hate you. Fuck that. Let ’em fight it out. But try to make sure nobody gets too hurt,” I’d tell my defense ministers.
Before turning back to rooting for my cat.
“Use your right, Lou. He’s got a cut over his left eye. He’s blind to your rights. Right paw! Right paw! Now left!”