Adam & Eve
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Adam & Eve
Adam & Eve
Adam & Eve
Cat-o-therapy, for reasons that escape my understanding, was no widely adapted term. Warning: Not recommended for persons allergic to cats. Sorry! I will not advocate it for people infected with ailurophobia (the fear of cats) either. On many occasions it worked better than the trendy pharmaceutical treatments utilized in psychotherapy. Amazing how much more preferable Adam was to Zoloft. Were two cats sufficient to exorcise Mother and the other plump relative out of my system, or did I need to adopt seven more in a hurry? A hundred and fifteen to cover the problem, you say? Hmm...Zoloft, then?
The techniques of cat-o-therapy varied a little, but were easy to learn, the results immediate and always positive, and what was awfully convenient—the only prop required was a cat. Any cat would do. In some rare cases, light prewashing was advised before handling for the first time. Naming the kitty was a must. To avoid being scratched and bitten, please ensure that kitty knew who you are, that your intentions are pure and honorable, and that all participants, both feline and human, are on a first name basis. The good news was that if one expected a free spirit and creative independent thinker, there it was. A note for the overly cautious: Imaginary pets are great and all that, but a less effective remedy (though, no argument, better than nothing).
The top thing to do with my puny roommates was hugging. How could I stay unhappy with a purring critter pressed against my chest, a little heart beating twice as fast against the bigger, slower one, mine? My anger would dissipate in an instant, gone, while that highly therapeutic widget was attached to me, the safest way par excellence to get me mellowed out in a hurry. Little heart, big love. Just stick the furry thing in my arms and come back in five minutes. They would stay on my lap for hours, one or two at a time, radiating joy, little heads lifted up, innocent, trusting eyes seeking to meet mine.
Companions to humans for millennia, worshipped by ancient Egyptians, burnt at the stake by medieval Europeans, forever mysterious. Ours was a household owned by cats, gracious enough to accept me as their roommate. Those two kind souls let me into their lives, entrusted me so completely with theirs, as they—and how irrational was this?—decided to spend their entire existence in the shadow of mine and seemed content with their decision! Or was I the one who lived in their shadows? And did they ever have something to teach me about love.
My next favorite healing method was to burrow my face in a fuzzy bundle of joyful innocence (or bundles—depending on the physical proximity of objects in relation to one another—securely supported by sturdy yet squishy surface, like a bed), and melt into delicious, much-needed warm softness, losing myself for a short eternity. It was said to cure insomnia too. Maintaining deep breathing was highly encouraged while developing a sense of contentment and peacefulness to be transferred later on into other everyday activities. (Hmm…Why did Eve smell like chicken curry?) A variation on the method consisted of having both furballs lie on a rug with their silky, polka-dotted bellies up, hind paws high up in the air, tips curled up like commas, following my every move with their wide-open, baby-blue eyes, hoping for a petting or two. Worked every time.
Next—the least active option, in the vein of a less-of-a-participant and more-of-an-observer technique—one could watch the two earlier described creatures perform their daily activities. Keeping one’s eyes open for the entire routine enhanced the experience. The cats’ list of events included, but was by no means limited to, sleeping; munching on crunchy food pellets or lapping up a drink of water with curled-up, tiny tongues; grooming themselves, one another, or me (on a regular basis—Mother smelled all wrong, else they could tell I was in need of good mothering, as only cats will ever know).
Or the little darlings’ fascination with a dust speck. All small objects in the room belonged to the exciting toy category, with a bit of discrepancy in the definition of the term “toy,” per se. The closer in physical size to the feline the organism was, the longer the list of presented possibilities. So, there you had it—on the surface, this deceptively looked like an adult cat, but perpetually stuck under this clever disguise was a stunted in mental development, still in a kitty stage, playful ball of fluff. Alas, this stunted-development thing was a normal inherent feature of all house cats.
My silver lynx tabby Siamese Adam had taught himself a command conventionally reserved for dogs—“Heel”—and that was how we traveled together from room to room. His happy little tail erect, he fell in step with my slowed-down speed so I would not step on any paws, which were everywhere, and off we went. At regular intervals, Adam would lift his head to check which direction we were going next, giving recommendations freely and commenting on the choices made. The possibilities were sad and limited. Adam and Eve’s physical universe was despicably tiny in size. This place was no Garden of Eden, but thanks to cat gods, to them it was Edenic enough. Sometimes Adam’s twin sister, teensy Eve, joined in our wild adventure, flaunting her traditional elegant Siamese combination of warm light beiges and darker browns, expected back in vogue for humans too this coming autumn.
Adam, my Siamese twin, was attached to me on a physical level of being. At my hip most of the time, Adam personally preferred my right one. He was glad to answer to the affectionate nickname “Big White Hunter” I had given him a long time ago, but preferred to be addressed by his full name, by which he was better known among the locals: “He Who Hunts Eve’s Tale and Bites off Her Eyebrows and Whiskers While She Is Deeply Asleep and Happy Though She Would Prefer for He Who Hunts to Stop Such Unbefitting Behavior Altogether.”
Eve: now, this stylish and graceful princess had never had a bad hair day in her entire life. I admit I envied her. I realize it was sort of embarrassing to admit to being envious of your pet’s good looks—this fact alone could catapult me into the ever-glorious category of the crazy cat lady on the block—but we are all friends here, yes? Eve’s shift to follow me around began right after sunset and lasted until sunrise or so. The daytime hours belonged to Adam. As if my little friends thought it their sacred duty to accompany me everywhere to ensure I did not get lost by accident or get myself into some mischief. It was either that or to save them a great deal of trouble in finding me again after they misplaced me somewhere unintentionally.
The nature of their following-me routine underwent a dramatic change when we had company, or during the evenings, more so on the moonless or full-moon nights, when the forces of evil were on the loose to a greater extent, prowling in closer vicinity, and so it was of paramount importance for me to have bodyguards. Shoulder to shoulder, matching one another’s speed and mine, Adam and Eve would be at the front row of our force, moving together in a tight triangular formation. I even considered the idea of making them tall furry hats like the British Royal Guard wear, but had been met with a total lack of necessary enthusiasm from the troops, and gave up on any uniform or headwear.
I have dreamt of putting a cozy rug on the floor of my shabby-chic bathroom. Who enjoys walking barefoot on cold tiles, much less those covered with sharp pieces of clay cat litter, thrown out of a litter box at great speed in complete disregard of my frequent attempts to swipe them away? Those original mosaic tiles were more of a mosaic lace, chipped, cracked, and broken, interrupted by black rough spots, with too many pieces missing. Time and again, I made neurotic attempts to change the aesthetics of the room by placing something on the bathroom floor, only to meet with steady, steadfast opposition from Eve, a strategic mistake on my part that only goes to prove how little we know about cats.
She wanted nothing to do with my comfort and pooped on the rug, but Eve being every inch a lady—in the southeast corner of a rug, with the calmness of Zen Buddhist philosopher. I would stop putting things on the floor, until the next equally unfortunate moment in the bathroom saga when I would be overcome by the uncontrollable urge to change the landscape of the room once more and cozy it up a little. One morning when I cleaned the rug again, ready to admit defeat at yet another failure to introduce some form of comfort to my bathroom, it dawned on me that the reality was—so sad—that Eve, that little rat, had dreamt of something soft and cozy on the floor of our bathroom too. What do you know—we shared a dream.
The Siamese were very, very vocal bunch—I cannot emphasize the “very” bit enough—more than willing to share their fruitful life stories with anyone willing to listen, even if just for a second. No one had to concentrate on finer nuances of the story being told, though it might be nice to glance in the general direction of the current storyteller once in a while and nod. If one wished to volunteer some encouragement, by all means, please do follow such an impulse. Some “uh-huh,” or “then what?” now and then would have hurt no one.
I have to accentuate that this adapted style of storytelling was never monotonous. Their intonations had been refined by generations after generations of those eager to preserve oral tradition felines. In absence of an appreciative audience, or simply any audience, the storyteller would not be discouraged, as one might commonly think. They still assumed the classic position of sitting as straight as possible, modest, front paws together, tail curled around their body in a neat manner, the tip of a snout raised in the direction of a point in space positioned about five to six feet off the ground and two to three feet away from the center of gravity of the adorable owner of said snout. It is pure speculation on my part that a five-to-six-feet distance from the floor was in fact the preferred height for an ideal listener’s ears to be located; the precise cardinal direction of the previously described point held no significance whatsoever. From this pose, the bewhiskered storytellers would tell their tale anyhow, listeners or no listeners. An abbreviated version was never an option in any case. I adore Siamese. A fine and merry bunch, they are.
Let me tell you something else about Adam. My reliable anti-anxiety device was himself plagued by anxieties. He was plagued by that apparent perversity of systems, so-called survival mechanisms which were supposed to protect the organism from harm, but turned on it instead. To be more precise, Adam had separation anxiety. In his defense, a hundred to one, he had inherited this entirely undesirable trait from Mother.
Anxiety never rated high among the activities recommended by modern psychiatrists for the general well-being of an organism, per se. But Adam had never been properly trained in methods of psychoanalysis, much less practical applications of techniques directed toward finding ways to solve the current problem(s) of a suffering entity. He was more of a down-to-earth type.
To calm himself down, Adam ate things. Soft things. A teeny-weeny glitch in the murky depth of the alien psyche belonging to a marvel of the specimen of a Siamese male. Call it a shortcoming if you absolutely have to, but please take precautions not to be heard by Adam while saying things like that—he was a sensitive little fellow. I wonder if there is a safe version of Xanax for cats on the market?
On the other hand, Siamese females had never been observed engaging in such unfathomable behavior, apparently reserved for males only. Time to admit—this cat was a kook! As explained to me by a patient vet, Adam’s habit had something to do with nipple fixation and was nothing a male could outgrow. Ever. Rest assured, Sigmund was smiling somewhere and had a thing or two to say about that. Nipple-shmipple. If you ask me, the petite guy suffered from a constant need to repress the talented, if spasmodic, creative urges of an interior designer in the making, all while trying to look dignified about it. He might be eager to sacrifice things for want of an opposable thumb—at least that was the subtle vibe I was getting. Since the thumb thing was unlikely to happen soon, he was condemned to utter thumblessness, using his teeth as creative tool till the end of his days.
Poor, poor gentle Adam. He would eat soft things like a cashmere sweater, a scarf, a stuffed teddy bear, a Victoria’s Secret Angels collection bra, or a Kleenex, not picky about the overall physical form of the object. Or the color. Or the price. It just had to be soft and chewy. In famine times he would settle for a sock; even a grimy one would do. Since more desirable objects were not so readily available at his disposal as of late, in an act of a desperation, Adam had stooped to stealing my Nikes, hard and leathery on the outside, but scrumptious inside. That was, if he could get to them first.
While Eve specialized part-time in borrowing small shiny objects (to be found under the couch later after she was done with them, some to be never found), Adam labored full-time and on a grander scale, involving a vast number and variety of objects. Perhaps among cats he was thought upon as industrious and clever, his little heart filled with the best of intents, going out on dangerous missions to bring home spoils, but not in my world, no. Between you and I, he was a recidivist. When no one was keeping watch, he stole anything that was not nailed down, things big and small, all of which ended up stuffed into cats’ food dish. A good thing I knew where that bowl was at all times so I could retrieve other people’s belongings or mine. That was my cross, and I would bear it.
He ate a queen-size fitted sheet once, a traditional Victorian floral, not all of it in one sitting, though. It took him several months. Bit by delicious little bit. Since he enjoyed the “fitted” part less, the elastic was left for me to discover and marvel about the capabilities of my woolly companion. How much of this behavior could be attributed to a fun way to pass the time on a dull afternoon, or should I have seriously begun to worry? I also wondered about the more pressing, relevant issue of whether or not I was fit to be a good cat mother—if one insisted, fit enough to be a stand-in for a good cat mother—or if I in fact posed some sort of hazard to their health, say, in how much I was at fault for contributing to positive or negative kitty self-image?
Less than a foot tall, Adam weighed eleven pounds, eleven pounds of adorable, huggable fluff. Ah, but very ambitious fluff, ever since he found his Mount Everest. Adam, that soft silver bandit, intended to eat a couch. Not a love seat or a chair. A couch. Some healthy appetite, I would say. I was generally supportive of all my children, even if they happened to be a couch-eating variety. A present from my daughter, the piece of furniture had once belonged to a friend of hers, was loved and taken care of, then given to Hannah, and even if it had not been needed anymore, the present was still generous. How often does one get a couch as a gift?
It appeared in our apartment soon after our old brown sagging, overly distressed leather one had been scratched from the “usable at all cost” category (the presentability factor had gone a long time ago and was not to be discussed in any manner). My new three-seater sleeper, my pride and joy. The entanglement of mystery flowers in neutral taupe-on-taupe brocade fabric, now in a new and improved design—taupe-on-taupe brocade with tiny teeth marks and holes, eaten all the way through, white polyester stuff sticking out in random but interesting patterns. Adam’s grazing grounds began to look more like a construction site than a cozy piece of furniture one might want to crash on. To help grasp the scale of the problem, cat photos can be emailed upon request. Wait a second, though—did I want to kiss him or kick him? Hmm…Good question. Meanwhile, bon appétit, darling!
Adam also happened to be fashion-challenged beyond all hope. About that aforementioned sock: during the intermissions in mastication activity, when it was not being chewed upon—a methodical and thoughtful process—said sock was worn as a headpiece instead (please envision an oil painting). Only God knew why Adam thought he might be in need of a hat. For the record, I was not the one who told him The Cat in the Hat story. I began to experience spasmodic bouts of guilt, deciding whether or not I should support his total freedom of expression as means for the proper development of individual uniqueness, which, no doubt, would have to be addressed at a later date, and in an environment more therapeutically conductive for such a purpose. But those not completely welcome bouts would surely have to wait their turn, would not they? Ah, this too shall pass…Unless one was a proponent of Chekhovian philosophy with his “nothing passes” (please cue sardonic laughter).
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