“You are a handsome man, you know that? How’d you get so handsome?”
I say those words, in that order, probably twice a day. Sometimes more. It’s not a daily affirmation spoken into a mirror. I haven’t taken a second job working on commission at Brooks Brother’s boys. I say these words because I own a cat. And I’m not sure if he knows how handsome he is. I’m even less sure how he got that way, hence the follow up question.
He never gives me an answer. He probably thinks the two question phrase means “I’m going to rub your cheeks then stare at you for 20 seconds”
I didn’t even want this cat. My girlfriend did. We first met him at the Petco on 96th street in the Upper West Side. The index card on his cage told us his name was Alex and he had amazing cheeks. It was half-right. His burly cheeks were impressive but his name wasn’t Alex. It couldn’t be. Alex is an awful cat name. So we changed it to Charlie because it sounds better and presents a wealth of opportunities for alliteration like Chubby Cheek Charles, the Chillin’ Champ.
So I didn’t want a cat but here I am a year later with strong opinions about declawing and the merit of wet versus dry food. My natural affinity for Charlie surprised even me. Turns out, I’m a cat man. I always was, but it laid dormant. For 26 years, my inner cat was somewhere in the back of my psyche napping in a cardboard box but it has awakened with its back arched high in a stretch. Now that I’m out of the cat closet, I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. Of course I get along with cats. I relate to them.
I can be quiet and hard to read too. I like opening up to people on my terms only. Otherwise let me stare out a window and contemplate. And my favorite type of friendship is one that can be maintained with a single, annual 2 hour conversation around the holidays or whenever I might see you. After that it’s back to radio silence because I’m busy. I’m so very busy enjoying my solitude.
My cat-like tendencies are evidenced most of all by my apathy towards getting one in the first place. All my adult life I’ve watched my peers acquire things I saw as unnecessary. Tattoos. Credit cards. Pets. What’s more cat-like than considering the idea of companionship and thinking, “I don’t get it. Why exactly do I need this?”
That’s why it works. I didn’t really need a pet, so I got one that kinda doesn’t need me either. I think he loves me, even though he doesn’t alway show it and I hope he thinks the same of me. But more than that, I hope he knows how handsome he is.