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2005-05-12 - 4:33 p.m.

I’m actually considering getting a cat.

I am a dog person. I know this. I like playing with my pets, running around, getting out in the park, tossing the Frisbee. I won’t let my boarders just sit around all lazy like getting fat and bloated. My fish, unfortunately, didn’t take well to the outdoors. They turned all grey, and let me tell you they can’t catch a B to save their lives.

This is why, I wonder deeply about getting a temperamental feline, that may well lie about, looking much like David Letterman’s late eighties hair piece, now retired and molding quietly on the top shelf of the hall closet. I am not rubbing the belly of a creature that looks as if she’s glued herself to the floor. I have my principles, about three of them left, but this one I stick by. (It was, by the way, four principles, but last week the whole “Never-Eat-A-Truffle-Unless-It-Comes-Directly-From-France” thing kind of broke down. The one’s from South America don’t taste as good, but I think I saw God. Well God or Don Knotts.)

This is not to mention, the other side effects of cat ownership. The smell, for one, which I hear adheres to walls, clothes, and food with the ferocity of a teenage girl to the thigh of Brad Pitt. For two, I’d probably have to do something about the ooze trap of scum that skims over my kitchen floor. Any creature who even thinks of ingesting that might possibly grow a fifth appendage, or another head, that may or may not try and run for Congress.

For three, I hear that a man living by himself, who owns a cat, isn’t exactly thought of as being prime Beef Cake Material. What magazine I read this in, I can’t quite remember, but I do remember that I found it in my ex-girlfriend’s bathroom, and after finishing the issue, I knew thirteen new ways to pleasure myself. Apparently, whatever gender or age the person might be, a cat smacks you with the label of spinster. This moniker is even harder to carry for a guy, since it’s embroidered on a purple floral frock. (Though it is rather slimming, and I got great gams, hon! Creamy calves from here to there, baby. And they go all the way up!)

I’m also not too keen about picking up poo. I hear cats clean up after themselves, and I’ve seen them do it. I also know that pets sometimes learn their behavior from their masters, and well, if he in anyway takes after the cleanliness of me…I’ll end up picking up poo.

Plus, it’s all but guaranteed that kitty would turn out with more neuroses than the hypothetical offspring of Woody Allen and Tim Burton. (Ewww…just pictured that.) Not only would it have to deal with me, but my dog preference would undoubtedly rear its head. I’d be the only cat on the block walking my cat. We’d go for runs down the west shore of Manhattan, and I’d try to get it to breed with a Great Dane. (Ewww…just pictured that.) All of which, especially the last part, would end up messily.

Still, I do have a soft spot for cats. As is required by Connecticut state law, the street I grew up on came equipped with a Crazy Cat Lady. So effective was she in her craziness, and her cat obsession, she actually served as the Crazy Cat Lady for the majority of the town. She owned no less than ten cats at any given time, and tended to nearly a hundred stray cats, who used her garage as a kind of half-way house/breeding ground/opium den. Her garage became the central point of these cat’s concentric circles, after she started dumping an entire bag of cat food in there on a weekly basis.

With packs of wild felines stalking the neighborhood, having harmonic scraps right beneath my window, around two in the morning, one would expect to see the tides of kitties, but most of them hid in the shadows. Not even the food dumper was above their skepticism. This was why it was so surprising to meet Tash.

We never really adopted Tash. She adopted us. Unlike the skittish members of her species, she didn’t really fear any of us humans. She wasn’t friends with many of us either, but she never ran away. She walked the yards with impunity, and most of my neighbors, just came to respect her, letting her pass on her daily commute to whatever business she needed doing. Even the dogs made exception for her. You could tell they didn’t like each other, but, not unlike the FDNY and the NYPD, they knew enough not to get in each other’s way.

For some reason, she did take a liking to me and my friends on the block, often joining us on our romps through the woods, if she happened on us. She’d traipse along side us in the summer taking in the sun, and in the fall, when we came to rest somewhere in a briar patch, she’d curl up in our laps to keep warm.

Tash, more than anyone, gave me the first life lessons in learning to deal with women. Give them their space, let them come to you, and occasionally take them out to dinner.

On one particular afternoon, she happened by my house while I tooted around my back yard, pretending the speeds I could reach on my scooter could rocket me through a time wormhole. She wandered up, and I started petting her under her chin, and she nuzzled my hand. I moved over to scratch her flanks, and then down her spine. As my fingers tripped over her fur, I reached the spot where her tail met her back. Apparently, as my later wounds could attest, this is a special place; one not meant to be incurred upon.

She reared back on her hind legs and delivered a quick right followed by a left hook. I fell back from my squat, plopping down my pre-pubescent behind. My hand came up to my cheek, shaking a little, to inspect the new slash under my cheek bone.

Tash leaped back a few feet, about to run off. She looked back over her shoulder at a tiny little boy, neigh on crying, with a little bit of blood on his face. She took this all in, stopped, and came back, curling herself around my leg, purring.

Throw in a little course language, and a little less bleeding and you have ninety percent of the arguments I’ve had with women over the years.

A cat like Tash, I’d never mind in my house. She was a bad-ass.

Thing is, when you fill out the form to adopt, they ask if you can handle dander. They never ask if you want a bad-ass. There’s my next multi-million dollar idea:

My luck, I’ll get a lard-ass.

At least there’s ass involved.

Oh man, did that come out wrong.

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