We have many different games. Morning ones, evening ones. The shower curtain game, the moving-the-lighter-off-the-edge-of-the-coffee-table-while-you-aren’t-looking game. The game of hiding under the sheets while I make the bed.
You have fangs, I have opposable thumbs and yes you are the apple of my eye. I lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove you.
Do you have a kitten? asks the Sole 24 Ore editor in the posh 15th floor midtown Manhattan conference room twelve years ago. He’s observing my hands. Which are criss-crossed with baby claw marks. It’s just that I’m allergic to cats, he adds, carefully keeping the vast polished mahogany table between us.
I know it’s not the same, but it is. They play, run, fight, fall, get up, learn. (Dream, fear, hope, remember, demand. Mourn.)
They’re made of rubber – no use trying to be everywhere at once. They’re bound to get scratched - eat something they shouldn’t. They teethe, catch cold, need vaccines. They need.
They’re so needy – sometimes you feel like screaming at them. And you do.
They could so easily end up tortured by psychopaths. Neglected, abused, abandoned. Bought and sold on the internet, caged. Vivisected, gassed, clubbed, injected.
You are the only thing standing between them and the evil fate that is being meted out to the innocent everywhere in the world, every minute every second. You are their guardian.
They’re possessive – won’t let you out of their sight. Follow you into the kitchen, the bathroom. Accompany you while you cook, freak out, fall in love, dance, take pictures fold the laundry. They make you laugh. Lay their paws on you where it hurts.
They bring you trophies – an eviscerated toy. Moth corpses. Once, a complete set of feathers. (Where’s the rest of the bird? You will never find it. Not even the beak.)
They have their preferences: classical music of any kind bewitches them. Led Zeppelin drives them out of the room.
They die so much sooner than us, said Francis the other day in the park. But I like to think we’ll find them waiting for us on the other side. Francis and his wife are in their sixties, their kids grown up; their rescued dog, Sophie, is two. So chances are – chances.
You’re twelve now Marley. At the same time it seems like yesterday I stood across that vast mahogany table and gushed, Yes! I just adopted a kitten… in fact, are we done with this meeting? I can’t wait to get home.