Stuck in the Middle With You

They say a dog is man’s best friend, and I believe this to be true … in a man equals humankind sort of a way. I know for a fact that Rufus is my best friend and I sometimes feel guilty that he can’t come along when my human friends and I get together for a night out. As much as I care about my friends, Rufus runs circles around them – quite literally, as well as figuratively.

I mean, honestly, there’s just no comparison. Among all his other attributes — of which there are many, he’s quick to show his love. For instance, when I come home from being at work or out with the aforementioned friends, Rufus simply cannot contain his excitement and he pees a little… it’s not on purpose; it’s just because he’s so incredibly happy to see me. None of my other so-called friends do that. What the hell, people? You call yourselves my friends. I’m surrounded by fakers.

my rufus

Cats Rule, People Drool

Thousands of years ago, humans worshiped cats as Gods. They were carved into the sides of buildings, crafted in giant sculptures, and were even mummified. Much like the ancient Egyptians, modern humans forever enshrine their cats on social media videos for thousands of people to watch and enjoy around the world. Although, studies have shown that if domestic house cats were even a little bigger, they would kill you if they had the chance. Since cats are choosing not to murder us on a daily basis, I think we need to show them how much we really care. You know, as servants who are afraid of being killed in our sleep should do.

Cardboard Offerings

This one is a given. I mean, cats of all sizes – even wild cats, love a good box. Online shopping has made it easy for us to order cardboard boxes straight to our houses. I order stuff I don’t need just to have the box. After all, your cats don’t care what you’re ordering. They just want the box. It could even be a cat tree or scratching post… do they care? Nope. It’s the box they’re after. The minute you take the product out of the box, it is no longer yours. Kiss that box goodbye. A good cat servant has a cardboard box in every room so the cat always has a place to lie in wait for their next target (you… it’s you, you’re the target).

A View to a Kill

Cats love to be up high. Refrigerators, cabinets, bookshelves, dressers. They like to loiter in high places because they are natural predators. As hunters, they want to get the jump on anyone and everything, so they call dibs on all the high places in every room of the house. The problem with new cat owners servants is they think they should be allowed to put knick-knacks and other items in the very places that cats have called dibs.  I mean, really. What are they thinking? That they own the place or something?  Sheesh. Cats will just knock down whatever is in their way and use the place for a perching location. And look at their servant with disdain while doing so. The very idea of cluttering up my space with a 100-year-old depression glass basket. Well. I showed them the error of their ways. After they clean that up, they better get me some treats.  The thing is, you can either be proactive and install shelves up high, just for the cats to reenact their favorite scenes from The Lion King, or you can kiss your valuables goodbye.  You know what? Never mind. While I do suggest creating a play area accessible only to your cat, it won’t matter… they’ll still knock your stuff down. But at least they’ll have a place from which to look down and mock you as you get out the broom and dustpan. Again.

Preserved for Posterity

What better way to show your cat how important they are than recording everything they do? It’s also important to get plenty of evidence in case you do something wrong, so your cat is justified in their decision to pounce you one day and end your whole existence.

A Worthy Throne

Whether they like to admit it or not, cats do like to be near their person. If for no other reason, than to keep tabs on them (after all, you may decide to dig into the cat treats). Placing a shoebox near your workspace for your cat to sit in is a thoughtful gesture… and one that I’m sure the cat will appreciate as they lounge atop their true throne – aka your $5,000 printer – judging you.

Gifts to the Gods

Cats appreciate a servant that does their research… and homework. By sitting in front of our computer screens for hours on end, trying to figure out the 500 steps involved in creating the perfect DIY scratchers with catnip cubbyholes we plan to put in every room, we’re really just showing how much we care for our feline masters. We’re proving to them that we’re willing to go that extra mile. Of course, they’ll steadfastly eschew said DIY scratchers, regardless of how much sweat and blood (literally) we put into them, preferring instead to assert their reign by adding their loving touch to our furniture.

the queen at rest

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a cat person. I love cats, always have. But I understand they’re on a higher plane than the rest of us. Unlike dogs, cats do what they want. If they come when we call or go along with performing our silly little tricks, it’s only because they’re placating us … to give us a sense of value and significance.  In so doing, they assert control over us, not the other way around.

Have you ever taught a cat a trick and then tried to show off that trick in front of people only to be met with a look of bewilderment from your feline performer? You want me to do what?  You must be joking. What do you do? Of course. Give more treats in a desperate attempt to prove to your audience that the cat can, in fact, do said trick. This cycle continues, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months, until the little fur-covered jerk cat becomes bored with their own game and refuses to do the trick even when you’re alone.

Yet you will continue plying the fickle feline with treats and praise and attention. And do you know why that is?  Because you’re the servant anxious to please your master. They’ve trained you well.  I mean, hey, I get it. I’m not judging. I have two of my own, and trust me, I spend my days making sure they are happy enough to not kill me in my sleep.

Some cats are cute, making us go awwww… some cats are beautiful and make us go… oooooo. Just never forget, they’re large and in charge and we are but humble domestics in their household.

If I Could Bottle My Nightmares (in Prose)

I could easily be a multi-millionaire. Seriously. I’m very close actually. If I can get my brain to work with me, I’ll be raking it in any day now.

How? Easy. I’d be an author using my dreams as inspiration. Not really dreams so much as out and out nightmares. The problem I have is my memory isn’t cooperating in my get rich scheme. I can’t remember my dreams well enough to write them down. Oh sure, I can remember them for like 5 seconds after I wake up… but not long enough to put pen to paper.  If I could hold on to a thought for longer than a few seconds, I’d make Stephen King books sound like lullabies.

You see, pretty much all of my dreams are nightmarish thrillers, spilling over with titillating plot lines, unbridled suspense, and chilling revelations at every terrifying turn. In technicolor. These best-selling novels of mine would be easily adaptable for the big screen. No need to be picky about that. We can franchise it even. Maybe make an app. I’d be into merchandising too. T shirts, boxers, hats, those little do-thingies with the bobbly heads.

I mean, listen, we can discuss all of the logistics later. Right now I’m just ready to start writing and I fully believe my literary creations would be a rousing success. The monsters I see when I sleep are right on par with anything portrayed in John Carpenter movies (back when he made kick-ass horror movies). I want to be humble, but honestly, they might even be better. The things my unwitting mind conjures up while it’s supposed to be resting are truly horrifying and unique. I mean, I should get credit even though I’m completely unconscious. That’s only fair. Right?

The only thing holding me back is that I can never fully remember the way the story goes. (If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.) Seriously though, I can visualize the dreams easily but getting it out of my mouth or onto paper is the problem. I know they would make for good story material and I know I’m ready to write.  The fact that I lack any type of writing skills or motivation whatsoever shouldn’t even come into it, right? Right!?

So come on, brain, let’s start working together and get the next Salem’s Lot on the shelves. Now… just where did I put my thesaurus??

Remembering When…

Nostalgia can be a bitch. I’ll just get that out there right now. Memories, especially those from childhood, can play with our minds.

Take Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia for example. Wow, what a segue, right? But it makes sense, trust me.

When I was a kid, my family visited Harper’s Ferry a few times. We liked it so much, we even took extended family members when they visited us.

Harper’s Ferry, for those who don’t know, is where John Brown had his fort and it was a key site in an 1859 abolitionist raid. It’s a historic park and while I haven’t been there recently to know if they still do this or not, back in the day, people could stroll through the town, visit decorated “shops” and businesses and homes that hearkened back to the town’s heyday, and watch reenactments of blacksmiths in historic garb fashioning something awesome, soap-makers/story-tellers creating soap in the same way they would in the 1800’s all while discussing the history of soap and the town, and people roasting peanuts.

My favorite was the freshly roasted peanuts. I remember burning my fingers on them because I had no patience whatsoever and wanted to eat them straight away.  You could have your picture taken in old-fashioned dress, with the picture itself made to look antique. There was even a nifty wax museum about John Brown.

In addition, and this part is spectacular, it’s home to The Point, a place where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, and while standing in West Virginia, you can see – quite clearly – Maryland and Virginia.

View of Harper’s Ferry (photo credit: Harper’s Ferry National Park) 

When I was a kid, there was a picnic area down by the river that ran through the town. My mother always brought fried chicken (and sandwiches, I think) and snacks and we’d go down there to have our lunch. While wading out into the water one time – I was young, that’s important to know – I walked into an unexpected dip in the riverbed and ended up in water up to my neck. Fun and games. Made my family laugh though as I spent the rest of the afternoon soaking wet.  Nowadays, that part is blocked off. I can’t imagine why. But you can’t get to the river from the public portion of the town anymore, and I found that disappointing.

Too many years ago, I took a trip to Harper’s Ferry with my kids. In my excited state of nostalgia, I reminisced and told them about some of my favorite memories there and all the cool things they were about to experience. I probably built it up more than I should have, but then again, in my mind, it couldn’t be built up enough… if that makes sense.

When we made it to the town proper, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t nearly as “grand” as I had remembered. It seemed “smaller” if that makes sense. Maybe that’s because I was “bigger.” It was certainly not the bustling hub of activity it had once been.  Whether due to budget cuts or lack of volunteers, there were no reenactors dressed in historical garb, there were no blacksmiths or storytellers.  It was too quiet. Too still.  History had come alive in Harper’s Ferry when I was a kid, and when I visited with my own children, it was a ghost town.

All I knew was that the view in my mind’s eye was at odds with my current surroundings. And I realized my mistake almost immediately… I had waited too long to bring my kids. This was confirmed by my children’s reaction – an utter lack of enthusiasm in the place I had talked up so much.

I started to ask myself a few of the more complex questions. Have times really changed that much over the years? Was I only in such awe of Harper’s Ferry as a child because we were simply more easily impressed then?

Oh, it’s easy to blame video games and a generation that favors a computer screen to The Point, but let’s be clear, society helped speed them on that path. Our society panders to the Gods of Technology and then has the audacity to complain when our kids are overly involved with electronics.

I’m not sure where I’m going with all this except to say once again, nostalgia is a bitch. But what do we do about that?

Maybe another visit to Harper’s Ferry is in order. It’s high time I gather my kids back home for a road trip. They can even drive so I can be the one to sit back and enjoy the ride. Maybe now the view in my mind’s eye will win out. Or better yet, maybe there will be a new view altogether.