“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Monday, June 4, 2012

Part II: Day 48: Zoe and Rebecca and Katniss, Another Interspecies Mixer

Those of you well-acquainted with this corner know that my dog, Zoe, has aspired to befriend a cat for quite some time, to no avail.  When she tugs me over to State Street to Rebecca's house, where Webster the cat lives, said cat in residence disappears.  (I wrote about Zoe's back history with cats and with Webster some time ago, and that post can be found here.)  Zoe will sniff out Webster's hiding place and park there looking pleased with herself, but the two never interact beyond the phenomenon of Zoe risking a mauling and possible blindness by sticking her head under the divan where Webster is crouched in the fetal position.  Now and then she barks to him a message that sounds like "Show your face!  You're weak!  Tom-cat up!"  I don't think he cares one bit what she has to say.

Well, now that there's a new cat in town and Zoe's had a chance to come courting, we know just how bold and sassy this canine ambassador is.  The answer: not so much.

This weekend we stopped over to meet the new addition to Rebecca's cat palace.  Her name is Katniss, she was rescued by our friend Diane, and she is the size of Zoe's head.

This kitten is not afraid of dogs.  She sits there and watches with detached amusement as dogs roll on their backs, bark at her, stick their snouts near her face, eat snacks, lap up her water, expel gas, and play with her mouse toys.  Nothing fazes her.

Rebecca had to hold Zoe by the collar to get her to appear in the same photographic frame of little Katniss.  Zoe was panting in fear.

Was it Katniss's mojo?  Maybe she's just got that alpha vibe that turns other creatures into pools of terror and supplication.

Or maybe Katniss just fits into Zoe's category of Unidentified Animate Object.  She is certainly the smallest animal Zoe has ever seen of the pet variety.

Katniss got bored with the scared dog routine eventually and decided to climb up her pedestal where she could reign over her kingdom from on high.

Faced with the chance to interact further with this self-possessed kitten, Zoe took off.  She ran laps through the house, heading up and down and finally settling near the divan where she could intimidate the hidden Webster who is approximately four times the size of his adopted sister.

Later, when she knew we were leaving, and I already was buttoning my raincoat, Zoe realized that she had a reputation to maintain.  She stood beneath Katniss's high perch and barked at her.   What was she saying?  Want a piece of me?  How'd you get up there?  Be a dog!  We didn't know.

I'm a veteran of junior high mixers and I know that there isn't a lot of mixing that takes place.  We, the students of Newton D. Baker Junior High, in Cleveland, Ohio, circa pre-Watergate, called them Friday night canteens, and in retrospect it was an act of incredible generosity and courage for the teachers and parental chaperones to decide they would give up a weekend night to supervise hormonally-challenged seventh and eighth graders in a big school gym.  Mostly the boys held up their part of the wall and watched with feigned disinterest while the girls jumped around in a big pack in low-riding tight bell bottoms and screamed.  It could have been the music we were listening to that made us scream.  When I think of that time, however, and search for a soundtrack, my mind goes blank.  I just hear girls bending over to screech random things in my ear, and the distant baritone of boys whose voices only stopped being mezzo-soprano about five minutes ago mumbling a language I had yet to learn.

Meet Katniss.  She's an imperturbable kitten, and she weighs as much as my morning toast

Zoe's licking her chops for . . . the greenies next to the kitty.  Rebecca is holding this brave dog in place.

This is a dog-free perch

Zoe likes it in the next room where she can feel superior to the hidden Webster-cat and can still watch our every move

You think you're so smart, little cat, just because you can climb.  But, can you fly?

Do you think they are friends now?  We'll have to see what happens next time . . .
It is the way of all mixers that much is lost in translation.


  1. Sometimes Inna Godda Da Vida. And a lot of Jackson Five. Who were those adults that gave us those nights? What a contrast to our gender-segregated marching lunchtime lines.

  2. No wonder I prefer to remember the other sounds! Where does Todd Rundgren come in? Since I posted I've been hearing "Hello it's me" in my head--which was a song I really liked. Those lunchlines were unbelievable, weren't they? I have an essay in my head now . . . xxx