Committed Relationships

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

I was talking to Willison, our cat, about our Premier and why he should be put down, when it occurred to me that I was discussing evil dictatorships with a creature that licks his own bum.

For a moment I began to wonder if I hadn’t lost it altogether and then I remembered almost every pet owner talks to a dog or a cat several times a day. Some ladies even carry on conversations with budgies, which is really stupid. In wartime that would be considered collaborating with the enemy. Do they not realise that a budgie will blab to anyone interested, especially about the shouting match she had with her husband over why he was staring at the sunbathing bikini-clad teenager next door? Whenever a housewife wants to berate her husband over some imaginary sin, (husbands almost never sin) she would be well-advised to send the budgie to another room. In a matter of minutes the whole town will know about his supposed transgressions. And parrots – well we won’t get into that. Polly will say #@*^& and sometimes worse.

If we really think about it, the average pet owner is mildly unbalanced and in a more caring society would be locked up for his or her own good. I use the word ‘owner’ with some reluctance because technically we buy the little darlings but within hours it is questionable as to who owns whom. The master-pet relationship usually lasts until we get the little jerks into the car (or transport truck if it is one of the larger breed of dogs). At that point they take over. (I heard on the CBC this morning that a number of animal rights weirdos are saying we should not refer our dogs, cats, hamsters, or whatever rules us, as pets but rather our animal companions.)

Now I don’t mind talking to Willy about most things, but I draw the line when it comes to the more delicate topics like finances and why we don’t have any (partly because of his cat food). And of course I would never discuss sexual relationships. I stay well away from that since his previous servants had him fixed, or bought him that way. Such a conversation would only make him feel bad since he is no longer capable. For the same reason, I avoid the subject with several of my friends too since it is but a pleasant memory for most of them and is no doubt a blessing for their wives.

Talking to an animal can be a form of therapy, and a can of dog or cat food every month or so is a lot cheaper than forking over God knows how many bucks an hour to a therapist. The trouble starts however, not with the talking, but when the session becomes a two-way conversation. If you are old enough to remember the Francis, the Talking Mule movies or the Mr. Ed television series, they were infinitely wiser than the humans involved. As an added bonus, both provided fresh fertilizer for the garden although the neighbours no doubt complained. A horse or a mule breaking wind can ruin a garden party for blocks around.

It was my tendency to join in inter-species conversations that led me to believe that there is something seriously wrong with my relationship with Willison. This morning at 4:30 I found myself not only talking to, but arguing with a flipping cat. It is almost springtime and it is going to get worse. Now I understand Willison has certain responsibilities in the neighbourhood. I have no idea what, but he goes out just after dawn in the summer and is away for hours. He is, I should add, a great believer that one should start the day with a nourishing breakfast. That’s why he has two, one here and the other he mooches next door at Angie and Mark’s. The argument started today when he wanted me to get up and feed him hours before dawn so he could get an early start doing whatever it is he does (which in the winter months is lie of the couch). I have no problem with dumping a wad of cat food in a dish, however breakfast at 4:30 in the morning is nowhere in our contract and that is what started the argument. Wearying of the verbal battle in which both of us were swearing, I locked him out of the bedroom and went back to bed.

Obviously he realised he had gone too far because he didn’t begin the whining for at least 30 seconds. Finally in full rant, I stormed out of the bedroom and opened the front door. With not even a ‘by your leave’ he disappeared into the early morning sunrise. An interesting sidebar to all this is that my wife claims she can’t hear him. I find that odd since she has no trouble hearing me mumble under my breath about her siding with Willy in any family discussion.

I wouldn’t mind this arguing with Willison business so much if I could win once in a while. Seriously, I’m beginning to wonder just who the dumb animal is in this house.

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