Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why I'm Not Crazy (The Diary of A Cat Woman, Part I)

Stop it, Phoebe. Stop. No, Phoebe. Phoebe, get off that. Phoebe, come here. No! I said no. Come here, Phoebe. Here! I said get off that! Are you listening to me? Psss, psss, psss. Look, it's a mouse! You like the mouse! I swear to God. No! No! No! If you don’t get off of there right now…don’t — good girl, Phoebe. Good girl. You are the best girl in the whole wide world. Yes, you are!

If I had this one-sided conversation with an actual person, instead of a cat, I would appear crazy. Thank God I'm talking to an animal who does not: speak English, understand English, appear to hear English, or contribute to my household in any way. Because I wouldn’t want to appear crazy.

So why do I do it? I’ve got a whole list of reasons, actually, but upon closer examination, I guess they come down to one shared experience: approval. I love when my cat Phoebe sleeps with me at night, sharing my pillow with her head and touching my arm with her paw, like a mini, furred version of a person. (She approves of my sleeping formation.) I even like it when she licks my arm after I shower and apply perfume. (She approves of my personal hygiene.)I especially enjoy her excitement when I come home from work, as she runs to the door and nuzzles my leg. (She approves of my existence in my home.)

I am 34 years old, I work for a living, and I seek the approval of a cat. This is one conclusion you could draw from these facts. Another is that I'm a patient, loving person whose goodness and fair teachings may erase the line separating the human world from the animal kingdom.

Unfortunately, it is this last bit of explaining that took me from "not crazy" to "gives crazy lessons to Gary Busey," my husband informed me. I argued that just because he does not enjoy the lulling sound of a cat purr from atop his head (she approves of my hairstyle) does not mean that my behavior is abnormal.

Don't we all seek approval from others? Just because I happen to direct mine to a female that refuses to learn that it is so NOT okay to eat your own vomit does not invalidate my choice. We all want to feel important, to feel loved and appreciated, to feel that we matter. It's why women have children; it's why men play football; it's why I spent ten dollars on a stuffed toy that squeaks and is made to look like a can of tuna.

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