In Puzzletown, there are many adorable, screaming children. Many, if not most, were born in other countries, and therefore scream with adorable accents. Several of the adorably-accented neighbor children have recently fallen in love with our cats. I feel really bad about this, because, while our cats are ultra-cuddly with grownups, they kinda hate kids.
The kids don’t understand why our cats don’t want to play with them. They don’t understand why our cats don’t come bounding up and say “Meow! Pet me with your sticky hands, pull on my tail, and, while you’re at it, could you please shriek loudly? Because that would be awesome.”
Instead, our cats bolt for the house as soon as they hear the pitter patter of size 4 feet. They scramble upstairs as three or four small faces squash themselves against our screen door, crumple with disappointment, and wail adorably in foreign languages.
I’ve demonstrated the proper way to coax a cat, squatting and extending a hand in silence, but these kids last maybe 2.3 seconds before they grab for the cat’s head. I’ve tried to hold a kicking, twelve-pawed, clawing, monster so they could touch it, but they were understandably intimidated by the not-so-adorable howling sounds. Neither treats nor toys will convince my cats that these undersized humans are non-lethal, and they’re perfectly willing to kill me before they’ll risk being pet by one.
Yesterday, as I sat outside on my patio, trying to decipher a lace pattern, Curious George (one of the most intelligent, inquisitive children I know) came over. “Oh, that’s the cat who’s afraid of me,” he said as he watched Arthur dash indoors.
“Yes. I’m sorry,” I said, simultaneously feeling guilty over my cat’s terrible manners and resisting the uncharitable impulse to point out that, in fact, both cats are afraid of him, not just Arthur. I braced myself for imminent wailing.
“It’s okay. I have bubbles.” He dipped a wand into the bubble mixture and began to spin in circles, quickly surrounding himself with a wall of iridescent spheres.
Who knew bubbles were such a panacea?
I’m going to start carrying bubbles with me at all times. What’s that, Mr. Lawyer? No raise this year? It’s okay, I have bubbles. I’m sorry, Ms. Landlady, did you say we couldn’t rent this apartment? That’s fine. I got my bubbles right here.
Now we know how George W. Bush can sleep at night. Picture it: A soft evening, the apricot light fading from the Oval Office. It’s been a long day of signing orders for domestic surveillance and rendering prisoners to states that practice torture. The President is troubled. Laura pokes her head around the door. “Coming to bed, honey?”
“Five minutes, Pickles.” The First Lady retreats.
Alone again, he slides open the top drawer of his desk, takes out his bubbles, and, with a deep sigh of relief, he spins and spins and spins and spins.