Two True Fables: Part One
We didn’t look for cats. They would just show up and say, “I live here now, and you’re going to feed me.” It was a pretty sweet deal, though. They were free, they were cute, and most of them were pretty affectionate.
Except for Fat Cat. Fat Cat avoided us like the mange. But every now and then he would suddenly remember how much he loved us. It was when Mom cooked chicken for dinner.
We ate in the den because we were committed to spending quality time every evening–with the TV.
While Mom loaded our plates onto a tea cart, Dad would pull a gateleg table (made by the same people who built medieval drawbridges) out of the closet. Then he would lift the Formica flaps, activate the 416 interlocking cast iron legs, and voila: the perfect 9,000 lb eating surface from which to view Bonanza.
As soon as we sat down, Fat Cat would adopt his “I love humans sooo much!” look and jump up into Dad’s lap, where he would curl up and (seemingly) fall fast asleep. But seconds later his right front paw would begin to levitate, and as soon as it found the plate would begin fishing for fowl. Splunk. Mashed potatoes. Ew! Shake-a, shake-a. Resume reconnaissance. Then the mission would be cut short by a friendly poke from Dad’s fork. Fat Cat would jump down, deeply offended.
Then he would jump up into Mom’s lap and the ritual would begin again: Lap. Nap. Levitating paw. Fork. Squeak. This would continue until he’d been kicked off every lap in the family, even the dog’s.
After dinner, Mom would roll away the teacart while Dad began closing the 416 gated legs and lowering the drawbridge flaps.
As the only child, my job was to supervise. One particular night, while Dad was carrying the hulking table toward the closet, I spotted an aberration: four extra legs. Unlike the others, these had claws, claws that were frantically trying to help the table “walk.” As Dad passed by, I looked between the massive flaps and saw…
Fat Cat. Neatly folded into the legworks. And looking seriously miffed.
Being the deeply compassionate child I was, I instantly sprang into action, i.e. I fell on the floor laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Dad asked.
I pointed between the flaps: “He…the cat…he…hah-hah-hah-hah!”
Dad couldn’t understand me, so looked for himself. A moment later he landed on top of me, guffawing like a madman.
Mom came rushing in. “What’s going on?” Dad pointed: “He…the ca…he…hah-hah-hah-hah!”
She looked between the flaps at the irate cat slowly working his way through the legworks.
Whump! She landed on top of both of us, chortling uncontrollably.
It was the hardest my family ever laughed (our stomachs still hurt the next morning).
Fat Cat was not amused.
He did, however, graciously forgive us…
The next time Mom cooked chicken.
This story’s profound significance is revealed in Part Two.