Friday, June 18, 2010

Crazy Cat Lady Entertains Bored Children

Today I realized it is not so shameful to be a crazy cat lady anymore. At least it's not if you're awesome like I am. 

The last couple weeks, these cute little Asian kids who I assume live somewhere in my apartment complex have been hanging out near my apartment.  I can't decide if they just moved in and that's why they suddenly appeared, or if school recently let out for them and they have working parents and no nanny.  Really, they seriously just hang around outside by themselves all the time. 

I just thought about what I just said, and realized that really shouldn't matter.  When I grew up, I spent many summers home alone entertaining myself.  I befriended every neighbor!  If the boys ~my age who lived next-door couldn't come out and play, I'd ride my bike around the block, butting myself into my neighbors -- pleasantly gardening by themselves -- without a hint of shyness or shame. I really do wonder where that adventurousness went, actually; I guess I hit puberty and became aware of embarrassment.  And yet, today is is a suburban crime to let your kids wander unsupervised, because apparently it's unavoidable to raise them to be too stupid to avoid kidnap.

Anyway, one day I was home for lunch and heard a knock on my door.  I was expecting an important phone call for the dream job I ended up being turned down for, so I ignored it (a package, maybe?).  The knocking persisted.  I answered, and these two adorable but quiet Asian kids were there.  "I think he wants inside," they said, as the elderly Cisco crept in between my legs.  "Thank you..." *awkward silence* and I closed the door.

Perhaps a few days later, I came home from work and they were both sitting at the bottom of the stairs that lead to my front door, petting Toby.  I smiled at them and said, "his name is Toby." "You have two cats?" the older girl asked.  I paused, not wanting to admit that I actually have 3 at the moment (because while two is normal, three is borderline crazy), and said yes.

A note on my quantity of cats, before you go, "Whoa there, you have 3 freaking cats?? No wonder you have a blog, you must have no freaking friends!" Sophomore year of college, I had a roommate who turned out to be batshit insane (never get roommates from "I need a place to live" ads, folks, they are bad news bears). Anyway, our apartment complex allowed pet cats, and this girl one day suggested that we get a cat.  I grew up with pet cats, which I adored, and in a sense became a "cat person", even though I really wanted a doggie but my dad hates dogs because his pet dog bit him or something when he was a kid, so my 10-year-old heart was broken when my daddy told me I couldn't have the lovable cocker-spaniel-beagle mutt I fell in love with at the Humane Society and had already named Spunky. Anyway, I naturally agreed that we should get a pet cat. The first indication that she was batshit insane and I should have realized it was a bad idea to get a cat with her was when she said that I would have to feed it and clean up after it and her parents couldn't know because they were overbearing Indians who didn't know their daughter had a boyfriend let alone spent most nights with him (boy do I have good crazy roommate stories to share at some point) and wouldn't approve of a cat, especially because her mom had a cocker spaniel that owed their house.

At the shelter with my super-cat-person boyfriend at the time, the attendants tried to pawn off entire litters of cats on me.  I went to school in a rather stabby neighborhood, so this was a pretty low-income shelter that frequently took in abundant urban strays.  I felt extremely guilty, but knew I wanted a kitten with a reasonably clean slate.  As much as I wanted to get a female cat this time around (my parents always got boy cats), I found myself choosing between two tabby kittens that were very playful.  A random black kitten that obviously did not belong with the 8 tabbies with which it shared its cage suddenly leaped and clung to the cage bars.  He had a personality! When he started playing with and grooming one of the two tabbies I had already been considering, I asked my boyfriend if it was a bad idea to get two cats.  He said that his parents had two cats at home, and it helped them be less lonely when no one was home because they'd always have a playmate.  So I decided to get two kittens.

Now, I love my cats.  They have great personalities and my college neighbors have always adored them (especially because my cats tended to assume that any open door or window [awesome story for another time] equaled and extension of their home territory).  They are very affectionate -- though my current boyfriend insists that female cats are so much more affectionate, because his late kitty was quite the lap cat -- and assumed the role of TV substitute for my roommate (not the batshit insane girl above) and myself the two weeks before our satellite was functional (I promise to post pictures of the castle we made for them out of boxes one drunken/bored night; a full "this is why my cats are awesome" post is on my list), that's how entertaining they can be to play with.  The problem I did not consider when I made the decision to adopt them when I was 19 and in a shithole college apartment was that not every apartment allows pets, and if so, it's guaranteed more expensive.  This didn't matter too much to me until now when I'm wishing I can quit my job and couch surf until I find a new one in LA.  No, for the next 15 years of my life, I have to consider a living arrangement suitable for my energetic feline companions.  Kind of like children that never grow up.  But I love them anyway!

"Wait," you say, "I thought you said you had three cats?"

After graduating college last year, I made sure I got an apartment that allowed cats.  My parents jumped on this opportunity to tell me to take Cisco off their hands.  When I had left for college, I left my cat, Cisco, behind.  In those four years, he more or less became my mom's cat.  From her influence, he started acting more his age, and in my absence, became a grouch. But my mom had a lung disease + infection that was killing her and couldn't breathe his never-ending supply of shed any longer.  So I begrudgingly took Cisco off her hands, knowing he would reject moving to a tiny apartment after living in a big house and yard for 12 years, and that the addition of Cisco would put me at three cats and thus pretty much a crazy cat lady.

While that was a lengthy tangent, it was necessary back story, if only to save my dignity.  Now, back to the adorable Asian neighbor kids.

A week or two ago when I was home sick, I took out the trash and they were petting Cisco at the bottom of the stairs.  I could see they would be regulars, so I told them his name was Cisco.  "Oh."  Clearly they were still shy.  Maybe their mommy told them strangers would kidnap them if they were chatty.  So I went back inside.

The other day, I came home and they were again playing with Cisco on the stairs.  As I approached, the younger boy exclaimed, "Cisco!" quite adorably and pointed.  I was amused, and encouraged that they were speaking.  I asked them, "what's up?" and the girl said, "He's been outside for about 5 hours." I was starting to like the little boy better, but I know she wasn't trying to be rude.  I laughed and asked if he was okay, and she said, "No." I was like, "what?" and she said, "I think he wants food." Cisco led me up the stairs and I said, "Okay well I'll go feed him now. Thanks for taking care of him for me!"

I told the boyfriend about the latest development with the adorable Asian kids, and he said I should have kidnapped them.  You see, that's why children can't befriend their neighbors!  Actually, I blame that website that lets you see where all the pedophiles live nearby.

Earlier this week I noticed them with a random white lady, who had been walking her dog and was letting them pet said pup.  Another day I saw them in the grass, presumably looking for bugs to collect and keep as pets (okay, I totally collected rollie pollies and caterpillars and fireflies and snails when I was a kid and kept them in jars or measuring cups or toy saucepans sealed in plastic bags, until I learned living things need air or they die), and it became clear to me these kids are just bored.  Clearly their parents don't subscribe to cable and haven't yet caved and bought them a Wii.

Today when I came home from work, they were playing with a little Latina girl who was apparently also bored but had a beach ball to play with and thus was their instant friend for providing entertainment.  This girl approached and cut me off on the walkway around the grass, and asked, "Can Toby come out and play?"  I was tickled.  This was a blast from my childhood when I'd ask Lisa next-door if the boys could come out and play (and they really delivered the entertainment -- chalk, Legos, MicroMachines, and bikes).  I laughed and said, "Sure, if he wants to go outside, he can come out."  The younger boy followed me to the stairs and, fearful he'd follow me inside if I let him, I turned to him and said I'd let Toby outside, why doesn't he wait right there.  As I went upstairs, he called to the girls, "You guys! Toby's coming out!" I couldn't hold in the laughter and chased Toby down and shoved him outside, intent to please these adorable children.

Of course, they squealed with excitement and minutes later, my roommate let a frantic Toby back inside.

The moral of the story is: if you want to be a crazy cat lady, you can still make friends, as long as you don't mind that they are small children and that they use you for your cats' entertainment value.

get a pet to help you make friends.

Then at least you'll have a pet that you can force to be your friend if no one else will be.

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