Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kitty Snippets (Ruby, No!)

While there are stories to be told of Ruby the Cat that will hopefully fill pages, there are other tales of the feline we at times alternatively named "Jack", "Rubus", "Mr. Delicious" and "Rubyno" that can be can be easily summed up and stitched together in a few paragraphs.

In fact, Ruby's antics sometimes stitched themselves together such that remembering them just seems like recalling an average day.

We used to live on a pretty busy road. It had a double yellow line on it and was the main thoroughfare for semi-trailers heading up to Worcester, Massachusetts. The hours of three to four in the morning were relatively quiet and I used to thank my bouts of insomnia for exposing me to what it might be like to live in a normal neighborhood without the constant din of what seemed like a freeway outside. It made living under one of the approaches to a regional New Jersey airport seem almost pastoral.

I say this to give you an idea of the volume of traffic outside and how I seriously looked into surplus Navy gear hoping to find an old aircraft carrier launcher to help me get out of the driveway into this maelstrom of a road. Of course, crossing the road was perilous for humans (we used semaphores to talk to the neighbors) and instant death for pets.

Which of course meant that Ruby had to cross the street. Not, as the joke goes, to get to the other side, but rather to get me as close to a coronary as possible.

I think he took secret kitty delight in elciting facial expressions on me that could only be replicated by holding my breath, lifting a too heavy box and sucking on a lemon all at the same time. He would hang out in the back yard, taunting smaller woodland animals until either I or my wife at the time dared to wander into the front yard. Perhaps we were spreading mulch around the dwarf apple trees or taking bets on when the hundred foot spruce rotting from the inside out would eventually topple into the bedroom window. It didn't matter, as soon as Ruby noticed us out he'd migrate to the front of the house, queue up at the edge of the road and with a "watch me, watch me" yelp, tear ass across the street right into whatever was barrelling at him.

Of course, we'd scream, yell, faint and then try to coax the cat, now safely on the lawn across the road to stay there under any and all circumstances. This had the immediate effect of launching him back into traffic and in retrospect we would have had more success if we told him to go around back and ask the nice people in the house to serve him lunch. That of course was an actual trick that one of the other cats had learned in a quieter neighborhood we had lived in as we puzzled why Crittur seemed to be growing fatter than her siblings all of a sudden.

So Ruby serpentined his way across the road at least two or three more times until we finally caught up with him and confined him to the house for the rest of the day. This, I am convinced was the result he was after for we always found him curled up on or under the bed sheets in the afternoon, blissfully alone and away from the other cats with the biggest only child kind of self satisfied smile on his mug.

Ruby also got us off on the entirely wrong foot with the folks across that main road in the first week we lived in that house.

We had bought the place from a couple that had moved to Virginia a month earlier and the house had stood vacant until we got through the paperwork of closing. The mortgage market then, unlike today, actually verfied incomes and assets on more than your capacity to consume and and expel air but I digress.

In that month, the folks across the street had thought it entirely appropriate to offer up our backyard as an exercise space and crap repository for their two Bichon Frises. This seemed like a fine bargain but they forgot to check their calendars for when the new folks might be moving in. They also seemingly forgot to phone ahead to see if these new folks might be bringing along a little red hellion who might look askance at his backyard being soiled by dogs who should in truth limit their out of house activities to bobbing their heads in the back seats of cars.

Ruby was no more than let outside on his first day of occupancy than he discovered the two; let's call them "Thing One" and "Thing Two" because we never did find out their real names. The reason for that being that Ruby promptly chased one across the street of traffic death (the dog made it unscathed but its yapping did bring out its owner to watch the next episode) and feeling he had to prove a point about kingdom, domain and territory proceeded to jump on Thing Two's back and ride the dog down the length of the driveway before getting off and sending him home with compliments as well.

I relay this all secondhand because I was in bed at the time of the Broncing Bichon. We had just unloaded the last of the rented moving van the day before and I was evaluating whether I would ever regain control of my muscles without eviscerating pain ever again.

I am told though that the neighbor, now out after the first chase, watched in horror as Thing Two was a'ridden down the drive a'yelping and a'hollering.

She never spoke to us for the entire time we lived there.

Ruby, for all his athletic prowess, was awkward at parties. He'd mingle for a while but, never sure of which leg to rub or lap to curl in usually eventually sought me out. If I were sitting, he'd sit on my lap and go catatonic for the rest of the evening. If I were standing, he'd cause a distraction like digging in the potted plants until I'd pull him away and hold him at which point catatonia for the evening set in again. This all changed if there were food out.

We were giving a party one night and just finishing up hors d'oeuvres. John Grogan and his wife were among the guests and John and Jenny were hanging in the kitchen. We were telling pet stories about Ruby among others when we pulled the last tray of baked canape something or other out of the oven and put it on the counter. This was Ruby's moment: not only was there something cheesy within reach, he was actually the focus of attention. He leapt up on the counter and landed all four paws into whatever we had just baked.

The food was discarded, the cat sent to bed in a locked room and we apologized all around. John said it was hilarious and that he had this dog that he had a million stories about...

Somebody owes that cat royalties.

Bunny on.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still remember coming home from college, and meeting our newest furry family member. I asked my Mom what his name was going to be.

"Mostly" she replied.

"Mostly?" I asked, wondering if I had heard her correctly.

"Yep. Mostly. Because mostly he's a big pain the ass!"

That cat 'bout drove us all crazy before he went on to his Just Rewards...

2:32 AM  

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