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Boots and Baron

February 25, 2010


I was over at a friend’s house last week because I had to – his ‘had to’, not my ‘had to’ – try out his new reclining couch. It was a nice couch, so I’m glad I listened to his ‘had to’ and now I want a reclining couch of my own. Gary and I were breaking in the new reclining couch by watching the movie Scarface for the I-can’t-remember-how-many hundredth time and my attention periodically wandered over to his cat, Baron.

Baron is a fat orange tabby. Gary’s ex-wife took him in as a stray and no one knew how old he was, but the vet’s best guess at the time was that Baron was around four or five years old. That puts him at about seven or eight now. What strikes me about Baron is I can’t say with any certainty that I’ve ever seen him move voluntarily. Make a loud noise and if he’s in the mood he’ll look up, but he’s just as likely to sleep through the disturbance. Put out fresh food and, if he’s hungry, he’ll go and eat, but if he’s not the food will sit untouched. There is no curious trait in Baron and I can’t recall ever seeing him move, play or explore. Baron won’t even move to try and entice someone into petting him. You know how cats will slink around your foot or head bump your hand to get your attention? Baron doesn’t do that. If you walk up to him and pet him, depending on his mood, he might roll over and make it easier for you to scratch the bottom of his neck, but he won’t get up and come to you. Baron spends most of his time curled up with his thoughts and dreams. He couldn’t care less about anything and I’ve always found that odd.

Baron is the polar opposite of Boots and the only similarities the two share are physical: four legs and fur. Boots was my dog when I was a kid. He was a black mutt with floppy Cocker Spaniel type ears and, not a difficult guess, white paws. Three white paws with the fourth holding a splash of white. Boots was a wildly energetic puppy and even as he aged he never lost much of his vitality. There was never an activity going on in the house where you wouldn’t find Boots as part of the goings on. Boots had his share of sleep time, but the slightest noise or stimulus and he was up on those three and a half white paws checking it out. Boots wasn’t shy either. He didn’t harass strangers and he wasn’t a jumper, but he watched, and if you made eye contact with him that was all he needed to come over and let you pet him. And once you pet him that meant he could lick his thanks to you in return. Boots loved to lick; he loved to snuggle and to be snuggled. He loved to sit on his chair with us during dinner, not begging for food, just sitting, watching and listening, and being part of the family.

“You want a beer or something?” Gary asked.

“A beer sounds good.”

Gary left for the kitchen and I was alone with Tony Montana and Baron, and whenever I’m alone with Baron I can’t help but try to get his attention.

I stopped the movie and called Baron by name from across the room and got no response. No response from Baron that is.

“What’d ‘ya say?” Gary yelled from the kitchen.

“Nothing, man. I was just playing with Baron.”, I yelled back, wondering if Gary thought it odd that someone said they were playing with his cat.

It was time for the mountain to go to Mohammed so the mountain got up from the couch and crossed the floor. I called “Baron” and got no response. I clicked my tongue a few times and got no response. I leaned over and blew on the top of his head and his ear twitched. I touched that twitchy ear and he moved his head away from me. I looked toward the kitchen and wondered how much time I had to try and get this cat to react to me and I realized it didn’t matter how long it took Gary to get the beers, there was no way I was getting this cat to move and play with me. I finally bent over and picked Baron up and cradled him in my arms and he made a deep rough noise and I worried that I had maybe dislodged a vital organ somewhere deep inside him. He looked at me with one squinted eye, his displeasure evident, and I suddenly felt very guilty.

“I’m sorry, Baron” I said as I set him back down on the chair. He curled his head back down under his front leg and I felt a little better knowing he apparently wasn’t the type of cat to hold a grudge. Walking back to the couch I stopped halfway and looked back at Baron, semi-expecting to see him watching me with a playful look on his face that told me he was teasing and inviting me to come back to the chair and play, but he wasn’t watching me. He wasn’t doing anything. I sat down on Gary’s new comfortable reclining couch again and wondered how anyone could enjoy living with a pet that was little more than a decorative orange pillow.

I started the movie back up. Tony Montana was mad. “I’ll bury those cockroaches”, Tony screamed the word as “cock-ah-roaches”. I looked back at Baron and aside from soft warm fur feeling better than a cold hard shell; I decided that playing with a cockroach would be more fun than playing with Baron.

Boots wasn’t the smartest dog in the world. He knew his name, but he also knew about a hundred other names and he answered to all of them. As long as you were looking at him you could have been rehearsing the third act of Hamlet and that tail would start to wiggle and Boots would trot over. Boots would have even answered to “cock-ah-roach” if he were still here and then licked you until you felt as happy as he was.

© 2010 by Michael Fishman

One Comment leave one →
  1. Fordy permalink
    February 25, 2010 12:56 pm

    This is why Dogs are great! Go Boots!

    (Ok, and my cat used to be like Baron – not a social creature, and fairly lazy. But when no-ones around she almsot think she’s a lap dog. Not much of a purrer, but she’ll come lie in my lap to be petted – but only on the top of her head. – but the dog doles out love and attention and play much more frequently – LOL!)


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