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Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Humane Society

We stumble into the building tripping over ourselves in our haste, a rambling, rabble of ragamuffins. They disperse in three different directions but I remain calm because no-one can actually escape. One single entrance, that is also the sole exit, is balm to a woman such as myself.

I allow them to let off puffs of steam. their excitement whirs a while. After about twenty minutes, they have expended enough energy to risk entering one of the smaller enclosures. We battle with unco-operative doors. I remind them all about the need to sanitize their hands between each cat stroking session. They are perfectly happy to submit to the hand washing in order to maintain the health of the cats and kittens. The greater good. A man enters the same enclosure. My children are still louder than many, as they lack volume control. “Geez! Aren’t the kids back at school yet?” I’m uncertain if this is rhetorical, a joke or both? I smile towards him.

Another woman enters the small enclosure. A member of staff. “Wow we have a lot of kids here today. Are you on a field trip?” she asks my daughter. She answers, a little non-plussed, “er…..no. We’re just visiting.”
“You know, you guys might like an older kitty, like that big one over there, the brown one,” their eyes follow her finger to the cage where the man crouches before his favoured choice. His head flips towards us and then snaps back to the bars.
“Kids should be in school,” mutters the man, as he talks to the cage and strokes the paw that pokes through the wires.
“Schoolie, Schoolie, Schoolie,” chants my youngest in his high pitched, baby voice tone, a mode he adopts specifically for communication with cats. He skips around the small room reading all the names pinned to the cages. The woman watches him buzz and read. I know that she’s trying to figure him out. Is he really reading all those names? Why does he sound so weird? She says nothing, just watches. My older son is in ecstasy surrounded by cats. He whole body roils a la Mr. Bean and his mouth tic is so loud and frequent, that everyone thinks that he has a serious attack of hic-cups.

“In the old ball game! In the old ball game! In the old ball game!” The man glances across at my son. His words are out of context with everything. His little perseveration phrase is indicative of his state of happiness. There is no such thing as a peer group for him. His lack of social skills may have inadvertently given him an opener with the man.
“Are you a fan? What’s your team?” My son continues to spin, his arms wrapped tightly around his shoulders, his own personal bear hug. He starts to meow but I consider this to be an improvement on the barking, mainly because it is quieter. Also, because we are surrounded by cats. They might be unduly alarmed if they were given the false impression that a stray dog had gained entry.

The staff member keeps an eye on him as she opens each cage to administer food to her charges. The man asks permission to remove the cat of his choice for a cuddle. The staff member obliges. The large man sits in the small chair and strokes the chocolate coloured fur with a tender touch. “He’s one hellava guy,” he murmours to the furry face with the slit eyes of adoration. He doesn’t appear to notice as “hellava guy,” echoes through the air several times. He continues to stroke his preferred cat but lets a proprietary eye rove over my children. He speaks to the employee, “we came to see Molly yesterday.” He nods towards the cat. “This is the second day we’ve come to visit her,” he adds but this time he tells all of us, everyone in the room, even though there are few listeners in his audience.

“Uh, uh, uh, uh, stayin alive, stayin alive,” sings my little one.

I catch the woman employee looking at me. I smile. She looks at the boys and then back at me. “Big family!”
“Yes. It’s an in service day at school,” I explain unnecessarily.
“No school today. No school today. No school today.” Her eye catches mine, again. She’s cautious, “are they…….” her eyes flick to the man and back to me, “they like cats,” she smiles.
“Indeed they do,” I smile back. Both our smiles broaden as she watches my boys with warmth.

“I’m probably gonna adopt her today,” adds the man with a hint of desperation. “I didn’t have time to do all the paper work last night.”
“He certainly is a lovely cat,” I say to his bowed head on the top of a body that appears to diminish before my eyes, curling around the cat, shrinking.
“We just came to get some flea medicine,” offers my daughter with a little flicker of concern. “We already have two cats, our own cats.”
“You came all the way here just for that?” he snaps , perplexed, relieved and too loudly.
“Well….. and to see the kitties of course. It’s a treat!” she adds by way of explanation. I watch the man unwind, arms soften, grip loosen and face open. Molly runs her front paws up his chest and her head nudges his chin.

A match.

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There is also my other "life" that is driving me completely batty "too."

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