October 24, 2009

The Spy Who Was A Cat



Things or concepts have only the meanings we give them. A thief will steal a five dollar belt buckle, and its loss can hurt worse than if he had taken a hundred dollars. It's too difficult to describe what that dragon buckle meant to me, but believe that it had meaning much beyond its money value. To the dirty swift Mexican bastard who snatched my book bag at a Las Vegas bus stop, it probably meant another hit of meth. To me it represented strength, beauty, and faith, because of why I came to own it, and where it traveled with my body, which I won't go into.

A cold-hearted burglar team enters the lifelong home of an old lady in Presque Isle, and leaves with a bagful of goodies, from silverware to picture frames, including a rather valueless but elaborate lace doily the woman must have liked; a doily probably knitted by her great-great-grandmother, it was that old and frail, and handed down the female line to her. It must have broken her heart to find it gone, and kept her awake nights. That's what I imagined, because my grandmother would have loved that doily.

When I saw what the dumb sons-of-bitches had taken, I wanted to smash them and turn them into the cops; but I didn't. Why not? The world is difficult-enough, without meddling in someone else's business. Believing in karmic justice for them, I ignored what some would claim was my duty as a citizen. I don't know if I was right or wrong; I just did not turn them in, that's all. Who needs a bunch of gangsters knowing you are a snitch? And the cops would ask, how did I come to know these particular scum bags?

How, indeed? One can have been denied entrance to Canada for an old DUI, and find oneself at dawn, hitching down a barren snow-packed road to the most-boring town in the western hemisphere, hoping not to freeze before finding shelter, and be picked up by a carload of conscienceless thieves, who stupidly mistake you for one of them, because you smoke grass, and they know where to rent an affordable room. So you get to know them better than you wanted to.

One can find oneself in old age paying for every mistake one thought one had gotten away with, or had at least paid for already. We don't get away with anything a'tall. At least, I didn't.

It is totally impossible to exhaust the subject of my own stupid errors. Fortunately, I haven't done anything they could send me to prison or electrocute me for. No rapes, murders, assaults, thievery or burglary or anything like that. Just a good old marijuana and lsd conviction as one of Nixon's first victims in the "drug war," and a few misdemeanors here and there, too embarrassing to recount. Oh yes, and four, count 'em, four DUIs. Yep. But one was reduced to negligent driving! (After I had been on the lam for six years.)

Oh, the dumb messes I have made for myself over time. It all started when I was born, I guess, and started yelling for my teenaged mother to feed me.

Of course I've gone thru so much of my relations with Mickey Lee in this blog, that I am sure she would be embarrassed, mortified, and even infuriated to read it. But, as Mark Twain said, "Few of the living complain, and none of the others."

Anyway, things have only the meanings we assign. No flaming tablets or burning bushes put a name on anything. We thought it all up from what we thought we saw, heard, and smelled. "There are no ideas except in things." I think Charles Olson said that. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not a philosopher or an intellectual. I can barely understand most of that stuff. However, I'm not a simpleton either. I know where the Milky Way is, and I can find my way around with a map. I can read a compass, and I can also cook rice drive a nail and fry an egg. I was reading The Autobiography of Maxim Gorky when I came out of the womb, and the obstetrician nearly broke my finger prying it loose. It's probably a good thing that I never went to University, because I am a born troublemaker, but not passive-aggressive. See, I read psychology too. And as for the great Einstein, I throw a pi in his face. I'm not a metaphysician, either. If anything, I am an anarchistic determinist-fatalist with an incurable Marxist class-analysis of history, trying to laugh at absurdity. I also am not a popular guy. In fact, I believe, most people don't like me. To be fair, I don't like most of them either. Some of them give me the creeps.

But my cat likes me. Actually, he isn't my cat, but he might as well be. He comes down here two or three times a day, and either scratches on the door, or waits patiently for me to emerge, whence he dashes in and takes over the carpet. He sits there patiently until I return, and looks steadily and unwaveringly at my eyes. I return the look and talk to him as if he is an intelligent being, albeit from another star system. I know he is an alien being, and smarter than you think. I'm pretty sure he can read my mind. He has his own chair now, having telepathically induced me to realize that he wanted it. He jumped into it every time I got up. Finally, I noticed that the heavy rolling chair was tearing up the floor, so I replaced it with a lighter one.

Anyway, when I told him one night that I knew he was a spy, I saw a look of amusement and surprise I had never seen in a cat before, as if he were acknowledging my acuity. It was then that I knew for certain that I was not an intellectual, because no intellectual with the possible exception of Carl Jung or Wilhelm Reich could have made that connection. When this cat Eric recognized that I knew he was a spy for an alien species, he laughed. Ever see a cat laugh? Well, I did.

Don't ask me who or what he's spying for. But cats, domestic house cats, very unlike their larger lookalikes, are spies. They watch us all the time. And they actually train human beings to do what they want. It is very subtle. They know just how to push our buttons. I had this one cat, for example, named Jomo, black as Jomo Kenyatta, that had me trained to open the damned refrigerator. I'm not kidding. He would rub against my leg, and I would succumb to an irresistable impulse to open the fridge, and give him something; milk or cheese or whatever. That Jomo knew what he was doing. One time on an acid trip I looked down at him urging me to open the refrigerator, and snapped to what was really going on. Yet I was helpless. I gave him some Half-and-Half.

It's a strange, symbiotic relationship we have with cats. We give more than we receive, unless we have special communication with one. We rub them and it makes us both feel good. Eric, now, is a purr-er. This cat's motor goes like a small electric engine whenever I pick him up. I hold him on my lap, and sometimes against my chest, and he is content, and so am I. Or, he stands on my lap and bumps his small lion-like palomino head against my chin or forehead. He wants to give back the good vibes, and sometimes it settles me down; because I can get pretty hyper at this keyboard, and do everything except write. I'll surf the net until I end up reading about microorganisms in Micronesia.

I will get up and install a door to avoid writing. Unless I'm pissed off, that is. Then I just let it all boil out, and then go back to cool it down some. Other times, however, writing is simply impossible. I look at the page and think of something, and wonder why anybody would want to read it.

And then, throwing caution off the train, I go ahead and write it, and sometimes it comes out like this. But I comfort myself by remembering that things have only the meanings we give to them. Or you give to them. It amuses me to think that this cat might be a spy for a superior civilization somewhere. You can think what you like. Whatever you think, you can be sure your cat is watching you.

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