The Patient Cat

Yesterday I cooked up a whole buffet of wholesome treats, the main course being a chicken. All afternoon my black Himalayan mix stayed close, hugging the counters, sitting perched atop countertops, tall chairs--anything that would allow her to witness the wonderful spectacle of roasted fowl in action. She started to do that strange tick which all cats do upon coming across bird; her whiskers twitched and her eyes remained glued to object.

"It's dead, cat, and your not getting any until waaaaaaay later. Give up now."

"Meow." It was a quiet omission, which, in English meant, "Yeah, right."

She watched as I washed the carcass, then dried it off and rubbed butter along its jaundice skin.

"Not getting any."

"Meow."

She watched as I sprinkled herbs and spices, then drizzled olive oil and Worcestershire.

"None."

"Meow."

I opened the oven door and slowly shoved the pan inside, and with a dramatic blow to her plans, shut the door with a smug look thrown into her direction. I left the room with my last sight being that of black fluff standing next to the oven in perfect composure. Each time I came back to baste, she remained in the same state: spine-straight and spirit full of assurance.

Dinner came and the family sat down to eat with Wheel of Fortune on in the background. I doled out the plates heaped with freshly baked bread, potatoes and gravy, salad and tender sliced chicken. She started the rounds. Sneak under the table, get up by way of kid's craft bench and then sit on farthest southern corner in a flat, stealth-like position. A pair of hands grab her and she is down. Up again. Down again. Up again, this time Julia does the honor and puts her on the floor. Up again.

"I know this one, it's . . . it's . . ." grab her and put her outside on the back porch steps, "it's 'Don't do anything I wouldn't do!'" The contestant echoes my guess and Vanna turns all the letters to reveal phrase. "Oh man, I would have won ten grand!"

"Would have."

"Yeah, I know. Would have."

Dinner passes by and I began to clean up the table, tunes blasting on my iPod. Out of the corner of my vision, I saw a pair of slanted green eyes staring in at me, wind blowing her silky black hair around in gentle tufts. I heard a muted, "Meow."

When I opened the door, she stretched for a moment, then daintily stepped inside onto the linoleum.

"Purr, purr--did you save any for me?"

A plate was waiting on the floor by the stove, a pile of chicken just the right size for a fluffy cat with a tiny, but expandable belly. She didn't run to it, no, like any good respectable feline she walked slow with tail swishing behind in high-class swirls.

When she finished, she began the clean-up process starting with her ears: first the tips, then down, down all the way to the pads of her paws. I stood over her, arms crossed and face expectant.

"Was it good? I'm a great chef, right? Definitely worth the wait, I would say."

Without bothering to look up, she made her delayed response: a lilting omission with a hint of sarcasm at the end. "Meow."

That was English for, "It was a bit dry."






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