The Feline Version of Zoolander

Today we unexpectedly had to say goodbye to our smaller cat, a former feral lynx point Siamese mix named Squish. He had abrupt catastrophic renal failure, and may have had cancer. It was an absolutely heartbreaking start to the day. He’d been with us for 15 of his 17 years and we have deep love for him. He was sweet, soft, pretty with beautiful blue eyes, easily confused, and not particularly gifted with intellectual ability. Because of this, we often called him the feline Derek Zoolander. And in honor of him, I decided I would share one of the most mind-boggling stories of his time with us, which beautifully captures what kind of cat he was.

Originally published elsewhere on Feb 15, 2007.

In a corner of our office sits a pair of ankle-high lace-up stompy boots. They are sitting there because I’m getting rid of them and haven’t yet bothered to retrieve the “get rid of” bin from the shed.

Earlier this morning, Squish began playing with the laces of one of these boots. He often plays with boot laces, so this was understandable. However, I generally prefer that cats not play with stringlike things, so once I realized he was doing this, I called his name and stood up to go over to him and remove the laces from his possession.

As he generally does when approached by a human while he’s playing, he started to scamper away. However, he had apparently gotten one of the boot laces caught in his collar or wrapped around his body somehow, and thus the boot came along with him as he scampered.

This, naturally, upset him, and so he tried to run away from the boot that was chasing him. And of course the boot just chased him faster.

He ran down the stairs in a blind panic, the boot bumping along behind. He scrabbled madly on the hardwood floors downstairs, desperate to escape the evil footwear bearing down on him, but it remained in remorseless pursuit. He ran back up the stairs, his lug-soled nemesis still on his trail, thumping evilly in his wake. He finally ran behind Spouse’s dresser, where the boot got caught because it was too big to fit and pulled free of him.

We stood dumbfounded watching and listening to this horror unfolding before us.

And then we laughed our damn asses off.

Squish is under the bed now, and we fully expect he will remain there for at least the next eight hours or so. I do of course feel terrible at how scared he is…but not so terrible that I fail to find this completely hilarious. Yes, I am an awful person. Everybody knows this already.

The boots are both back in the corner of the office, sitting peacefully, giving no indication of their true cat-torturing nature. However, I’ve tucked the laces in so they can no longer be pulled on by curious, boot-naive kitties.

A representative photo of Squish.

Of fairy tales and happy beginnings

Originally published elsewhere on October 13, 2004

My love is like a storybook story,
But it’s as real as the feelings I feel

Once upon a time, there was a princess whose heart had become encased in ice.

Once upon a time, there was a knight who had fallen short in his quest for love.

They met on a night of masks, and neither quite saw the other, though they each remembered meeting.

They met again in friendly contest, and the knight thought he saw something lying underneath the ice around the princess’s heart. They met again several times after that, in conversation and companionship, and the knight became more certain of what he thought he saw. The princess was intrigued by what she saw in the knight, but the ice around her heart held her back.

At the height of winter, there was a grand ball, and the princess sparkled and shone, surrounded by people and ideas she held dear, and she was filled with warmth, and at the end of the ball she embraced those around her, including the knight.

And at the moment of their embrace, a thunderbolt struck, and cracked the ice around the princess’s heart. And for the first time, they saw each other through the ice, and the world was suddenly about nothing but what was between their eyes. But they said nothing of it.

In the light of morning, the princess was almost certain she had imagined it all. Yet the knight kept finding his way into her dreams, and what she had felt seemed oh so very real. Finally, fearfully, she sent a whisper out onto the wind, only half-certain herself of what she was whispering, and why she was sending it.

Somehow, the knight caught it, and understood it, and brought it back to her. And they both saw that what had been between their eyes hadn’t been imagined.

But the knight had been called to war, and they had been given only a few days before he had to leave, and he was determined to show the princess the power of what had erupted between them. The princess tried to be prudent in all things, but there was no time for prudence here. The ice tried to hold her to it, to hold her back, and she fought valiantly, but the ice was already cracked.

I’ll be fine
I’ll be waiting patiently
Till you see the signs
And come running to my open arms
When will you realise
Do we have to wait till our worlds collide
Open up your eyes
You can’t turn back the tide

The first day, he kissed her under the leading edge of the moon, and the ice began to melt. The next day, he took her breath away to a song, and the ice melted further. The day after that, he showed her the depth of his heart, and the ice melted completely. And on the final day, before he rode away to war, she gave him her heart, now warm and alive, to take with him.

My love is like a storybook story,
But it’s as real as the feelings I feel

Even the storybooks have sorrow, and for a time, the knight broke the princess’s heart, the one she had given into his care. She tried in fury to take her heart back, she tried to grow the ice around it again. But her heart wouldn’t come back, and the ice wouldn’t grow. And the knight, his eyes opened by war and by what he had nearly cost himself, vowed to repair what he had broken. And over the long months of war and separation, the princess’s heart was repaired, not just from what the knight had done, but from things that had torn and scarred her even before the knight came to her, and the knight began to see new purpose in the quest he thought he had failed.

When the knight at last returned from the war and to the princess’s arms, her heart blossomed, and with every day that passed, she found herself grasping more and more of what she thought had been lost to the ice. With every day that passed, they both became more certain of the love they had once thought beyond them.

Don’t say you’re happy
Out there without me
I know you can’t be

On the night that the princess celebrated all the joy and blessings of her life, the knight asked the princess to dance with him to the song that he had taken her breath away to all those months earlier. And when the song was over, he asked the princess if she would give him her hand as she had given him her heart, and take his in return, and share the rest of her life with him.

Isn’t it strange how sure you can be when you find the one you want…

And the princess looked in his eyes, and she answered, “Yes,” because there could be no other answer.

And he said:
“Don’t you know I love you oh, so much,
and lay my heart at the foot of your dress.”
And she said:
“Don’t you know that storybook loves,
Always have a happy ending.”

Will they live happily ever after? No one can know that. But they’re going to try with all their might, as hard as anyone has ever tried.

My love is like a storybook story,
But it’s as real as the feelings I feel.

Lyrics–all rights and credits to original authors:
Mark Knopfler & Willy DeVille, “Storybook Love”
Depeche Mode, “It’s No Good”
Lene Lovich, It’s You, Only You (Mein Schmerz)