Back on March 1st, I blogged about my favorite cartoonist, Scott Meyer and his strip, “Basic Instructions” which he’s been doing since 2003 and which inexplicably is not as popular as “Peanuts.” (The current strip hits very close to home because my friend Matt and I have a number of running-jokes that we both find hilarious while our friends definitely do not.)
I even posted a few "Basic Instructions" that I found the funniest. Three of them were about cats; Meyer has a thing about cats, evidently.
The subject of one of the cartoons was “How To Express Condolences.” In it, Meyer was on the phone, holding his own cat while consoling a friend on the death of his.
Meyer: Look at it this way, now you can get a new cat. One that’s more durable!
Friend: A heavy duty cat.
That’s bad enough. Meyer continues to express his version of “condolences.”
Meyer: If I can help in any way, just say the word.
Friend: Can I come over and play with your cat?
Meyer: Ooh, I dunno. You don’t have a great track record with cats.
Later that very same day, a blogger friend name Michael published a post entitled “Family Shrinkage” in his own blog, Megaloi. No, it wasn’t about him and his brothers swimming in a cold ocean, but rather about what an awful position he was thrust into when he had to put their two cats to sleep.
It is one of Michael's typically touching posts. He has a knack for writing things that tug on your heartstrings. Read it here.
Talk about bad timing! I’m sure the Scott Meyer cartoons in my blog were anything but funny to Michael under the circumstances. I did not post a comment to Michael's story. If I did, I'd probably say something stupid like, "As hard as that was, I do hope you get the kids a couple of new cats."
To which I'm sure he'd be thinking, "Oh really, Bob? More durable cats this time, you heartless sonovabitch?" (Michael does not write that way, and I'm certain that he does not think or speak that way either.)
I don’t have pets. I don’t like pets. I get too attached to them. Then there’s always that time when you have to say good-bye. And yeah, I know that such things are a natural part of life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Pets really do become part of the family, and it is so extremely sad when they die…or when you move and have to give them up.
(My family, knowing what’s coming next, are already grimacing and rolling their eyes. “Oh no, not the Rexy story again. Please, for the love of God, let it go, Bob.”)
We lived in the Bronx when I was a kid. We had a dog for a long time, a mutt. Nothing special, but great dog, you know the kind. Then we moved into Manhattan, to an apartment that didn’t allow pets. For a short time, Rex lived temporarily in the family car or spent overnights at the apartments of other relatives who likewise could not keep him. But that was not right, nor was it fair to the dog. Eventually there was simply no choice, he had to go. It was tough on all of us, unbearably so. Eventually, I did what had to be done and took him to the ASPCA. After that I said, “That's it, no more pets!” It's a vow I have kept for nearly thirty-five years.
And now you know why I’m so callous to pets, and/or so screwed-up. I understand how people get attached to their dogs and cats. I go to their houses and I pretend to like them. But inside, I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, nice doggie, now go away.” I can fully sympathize with Michael, and what he had to do that day. I know how heartbroken he must have been.
Fortunately, the rest of my family does not suffer the same psychological damage as me.