About a decade and a half ago, a kitten told me I belonged to him, and I believed him.
I was visiting my mother, brother, and sister in Guerneville. This was some number of weeks after they had found and rescued the runt of a feral litter of kittens from certain death and nursed him back to health.
“You have to see this guy,” mom wrote, “His paws are gigantic.”
When I arrived, I had only a few minutes to say hello to people before this tiny creature peeked out at me from under a chair. He looked like he’d been put together by a committee. Of toddlers. Giant, crazy hairy ears. Huge, slightly wild eyes. Large, mittened paws with extra toes on each one. A tail that looked like an extra fuzzy bottlebrush held straight in the air. He was a cocky little fucker, even then.
I was informed that if I sat quietly, he’d come to me, so I did, and he cautiously crept over to make my acquaintance. This was a time in his young life where he was not sure whether people were monsters or trees, and so over the course of the evening, he alternated between treating me as both, occasionally taking breaks from climbing up me or running away from me to take treats from my hand.
He could not have been more adorable.
Some hours later, my mother and I sat down to watch a movie. And Thumper walked up, jumped into my lap, trilled at me, and then curled up and went to sleep, my heart wrapped up in his huge paws.
Eventually, I took him home with me, despite my mother’s rather astute observation that I am allergic to cats and would probably end up in the hospital. He’s been my home ever since.
Rest in peace, Thumper.
This is Thumper:
He has been my best buddy for fifteen years. In the last few days of those fifteen years, I have watched Thumper go from older, but still moderately spry, to weak and wobbly. Or rather, it feels that way; it’s entirely possible that this has been creeping up and I’ve been willfully ignoring that motion in the corner of my eye. I don’t know.
Our last trip to the vet left me feeling optimistic. She couldn’t believe how old he was. His teeth, ears, coat, weight—everything suggested that he was several years younger than he is.
Now he sits in front of me, swaying back and forth as he tries to maintain balance and not have his paws slip out from under him.
Now he’s lost significant weight, and the joke that he’s really all just fur and fluff is becoming less of a joke and more of a truth.
Now he doesn’t jump down from things so much as fall as strategically as he can, and it really makes a difference to him when I help him up to or down from my bed, which is less than two feet off the ground.
Now he feels almost impossibly fragile when I pick him up.
And I am fucking wrecked over it.
I know that one of the things we sign up for when we bring home our four-legged friends is a life span that is far shorter than
ours. I get that, intellectually. I understand that we don’t get to have them forever, no matter how well bonded we are. But that doesn’t make the thought of losing the best friend I have had for almost 15 years any easier, as it turns out. That doesn’t make me feel any less like my world is going to fall apart a little bit when it is time for him to go.
Note: if any of you feel the need to tell me how lucky I am to have gotten so much time with him already, please shove it somewhere dark and mildly uncomfortable, okay?
Thumper is the closest thing to one of Philip Pullman’s dæmons I will ever find in this world. While he may not be the metaphorical embodiment of any soul I may or may not have, he still knows me better than any creature on this earth and has been there for me through more heartbreak, tragedy, loss, depression, loves, victories, and achievements than anybody else in my life.
He knows when I am hurting, or sad. He knows when to walk up to me and shove his head against my side until I drag him onto my lap, or when to rest a giant mitten paw on my leg to tell me he’s right here. He knows when I need him to butt his head against my chin and purr for me, endlessly. He knows that when he walks up to me and yells at me that I know exactly what he is yelling about even if I pretend not to. He knows that if he catches my eyes, we will spend minutes just gazing at each other. He knows that if I walk through or out of a room, and I see him reach out for me with one of his massive paws, I will be unable to resist giving him the cuddles he is requesting. I know that when I put my face in his face, I will be rewarded with a kiss or nuzzle to my forehead. I know I can bury my face in his big white soft belly and all he will do is purr.
In human years, Thumper is about 80 years old. I don’t know how much more time I have with him. Might be a while, yet. Hell, we’ve been expecting each Christmas to be my friend’s cat Elliot’s last Christmas for years, but he has clearly made a deal with Death or made friends with a voodoo priest because that fucking cat is apparently not going anywhere until he is damn good and ready. So it’s possible that I have years left with my cranky old beast of a cat.
I have spent the last 15 years telling him he has to live forever, like I was casting a spell on him through sheer force of love and will. But I’m no magician.
I’m pretty sure Thumper got all the magic.
He doesn’t wake you up at 5am…because he can wake you up at 4:30.
When he throws up, he never uses the floor—when your clothes are available.
His kibble is larger than the average kibble—because he’ll eat too fast and boot it immediately if it’s any smaller.
He thinks—and poops—outside the box.
He has the closest thing to opposable thumbs that a cat can have—but he cries pitifully in front of slightly open doors.
He’s not afraid to tell you that you have been neglecting him for at least ten minutes.
He is…the most annoying cat in the world.
Well, SCOTUS is drunk.
No, really. Obviously drunk.
Those of us who are not just keeping track of the Prop 8 decisions may have noticed the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the funny idea that racism just isn’t an issue anymore. I guess nobody has stopped and frisked Clarence Thomas recently.
So, folks are dismayed and disappointed all over the internet, in my office, and probably in Dolores Park, too. But that’s probably because it’s raining, and Dolores Park in the rain is dismaying and disappointing. And of course everybody is worried about Prop 8–regardless of what the preferred outcome might be.
So, to everybody who is bummed out about bad SCOTUS decisions, look at this fucking cat.
This fucking cat is the cutest. He just wants to take his fucking giant, fluffy, polydactyl paw and rub it all over his fucking adorable face for you. This fucking cat is working it so hard to make you feel better about today. And today’s a fucking bummer. I mean, the fucking VRA isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Seriously, go fucking print that shit out. THERE. You just wasted some fucking paper.
So check it out. This cat’s name is fucking Thumper. He has a fucking RABBIT’S name. How fucking cute is that? He has fucking thumbs on his great big mitteny fuckng paws. His feet are practially fucking snowshoes. I have a fucking SNOWCAT. Thumper just wants to love you. When he rolls over and shows you his fluffy white belly, he wants you to fucking pet it. That fucking belly is not a fucking trap, and it’s so fucking soft you won’t be able to stop petting it. You would feel so much fucking better right now if you just cuddled up and listened to his fucking amazing purr, which gets louder and louder the more you pet him.
This fucking video has music, so if you are at work, wear some fucking headphones. And when you are feeling all pissed off about SCOTUS? Look at this fucking cat.
Facebook is just fucking filled with people expressing various levels of bummerhood today. I don’t know what the hell is in the air, but it prompted my buddy Indigo to exclaim (on Facebook): “Dude, are they crop dusting with depressives around here, or what?”
Good fucking question, my friend.
There aren’t enough happy things happening for people right now. So, here. Look at this fucking dog. This dog right here. LOOK AT HIM. He’s fucking happy. Look at that fucking smile. Holy fucking shit, this dog is adorably thrilled to exist right now.
This fucking dog just had a fucking treat. It was stinky and gross and he fucking LOVED it. This dog’s name is fucking Guinness. How fucking awesome is that name for a fucking dog? Guinness is 90 fucking pounds of dog. That’s a huge fucking dog. And all he wants you to do is fucking cuddle and scratch his fucking butt. That awesome fucking place right above his tail. That’s all he wants to be this fucking happy.
Guinness has the best fucking ears ever. Fucking look at them. They are lopsided and fucking soft and you fucking wish you could pet them right now.
So if you are having a fucking awful shitshow of a day?
Look at this fucking dog.
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter or pay even the slightest bit of attention to my (personal) Facebook posts, you know that at my new job, we have an office dog. He belongs to Toni, the founder and executive director of our organization. His name is Guinness, but I tend to just hash him as #officedog. For those of you who have the good sense and taste not to follow me on Twitter or Instagram, this is Guinness:
Guinness is not always content to hang out on the couch and watch me work. Sometimes he has to tell me just exactly how bored he is and just exactly how much attention I am not giving him. Now, he’s a Rottweiler-German Shepherd mix, so he’s not just a relatively large dog, he’s strong. His method of getting attention from me involves shoving his nose under my arm and flipping my hand over his head. Repeatedly.
Note: Guinness only speaks Dog, but he speaks it A LOT. He’s a talker.
Me: *working diligently*
Guin: Arrrph. *nose on arm*
Me: Hey, Mister. *pets dog, goes back to work*
Guin: Hrooo. *armflip*
Me: Okay, okay. *pets dog, goes back to work*
Guin: Ahroo. HRF. *armflip*
Me: Guinness. They aren’t paying me to scritch you. *pets dog, goes back to work*
Guin: Yes they are. *armflip*
Me: WTF, you don’t speak English.
Guin: ROOROOOROOO. *armflip*
Toni: GUINNESS. LIE DOWN.
Guin: HMPH. *curls up directly behind chair* *heavy sigh*
Me: *quiet sigh*
Of course, I’m completely in love with this dog. I’d happily put up with his armflips pretty much all day if I could. I think the love is mutual:
This is the general progression for any time I catsit for longer than a few days.
For the record, I did not actually find any cat journals. All cat journal entries are 57% fictional.
Some number of days ago, I took this photo of my cat:
But then I couldn’t decide whether he was plotting or pouting. So I made these:
And now…now I just don’t trust my cat anymore. Let’s not forget: he’s got thumbs. There’s no telling what he could do if he set his nut-sized brain to it.
I’m sure y’all remember Moto, by now.
This handsome fellow is Nijinsky. Nijinsky is Moto’s long-suffering-yet-charmingly-(mostofthetime)-neurotic older brother.
Nij: Ummmm….whatcha doin’?
Nij: Soooo…. *headbutts my knee*
Me: Just a sec, buddy.
Nij: No. Right now. *paw on my leg*
Me: Nijinsky. Can’t you—
Nij: But I love you. So much. Right NOW. *nose on my nose*
Me: NIJINSKY I HAVE TO PROTECT THE WAGON FROM THESE BANDI—Well, fuck it. Now I’m dead.
Nij: *purr* *gentle headbutt*
Remember Otto? As it turns out, he’s much better with paint than he is with unfamiliar musical instruments—as my beloved friends Sasha and Nate discovered while painting their imminent baby’s room this week (“Imminent Baby” is now my Britney Spears cover band name). He likes to help. And by “help,” I mean, “‘help'”. Sasha submitted this for your perusal and enjoyment, Gentle Readers.
So with no more ado, Conversations Sasha Gets To Have With Otto, and don’t forget—Otto speaks in all caps. It’s a thing.
Sasha: Hey, Otto. What are you up to?
Sasha: Wait, what’s that on your whiskers?
Sasha: Your whiskers are green and blue. And you have paint on your face.
Sasha: Oh, no, have you been in the baby’s room?
Sasha: Dammit, cat! I’m eight months pregnant. Don’t make me chase you. Oh, shit. Stay out of there!
Otto: *running away* HELPIIIING!
WP note: It’s true. He was definitely HELPING. I visited the apartment last night, and Otto had at least two different colors on his neck and whiskers. Good thing everything goes with black.
My dear friend Sasha pointed out that my blog composition has settled into a sort of triangle of topics. And I’m cool with that. It’s just not the topics I thought they would be. Witness:
Once again, the cats have won the internet. Resistance was futile. We’ve all been assimilated. And with that in mind, prepare yourselves for the most recent conversation with Otto, a guest blog from the abovementioned Sasha.
This is Thumper:
You may not realize this, but Thumper is actually my cat, whereas Moto, Otto, and Nutz all belong in various San Francisco apartments to which the unwitting residents have given me keys.
WP: Hey Thump, you okay there, buddy?
Thumper: I’m fine. *moves a little closer*
Thumper: It’s cool, everything’s cool. *moves a little closer*
Thumper: I’M TOTALLY FINE OVER HERE, EVERYTHING’S FINE. *pause* FINE. *rolls closer*
WP: Hey little man. You can come all the way over here.
Thumper: You know, that chair does look comfortable. But it’s not because I’m scared. And I’m gonna just curl right up on you. Because…because you’re warm. Okay?
WP: Look buddy—
Thumper: Shut UP. I’m FINE. I’m not even LOOKING AT YOU.
WP: *pets the cat reassuringly*
Thumper: OH THANK GOD WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG? *PURRPURRPURRPURR*
This is Otto (and my guitar):
(Otto speaks in all caps.)
Otto: WHAT IS THAT?
WP: It’s a guitar. You have seen these before.
Otto: YEAH BUT WHAT IS THAT?
WP: It’s a guitar, Otto.
Otto: DO I EAT IT?
WP: You can try.
Otto: OKAY. BUT WHAT IS IT?
WP: It’s a— Okay. Listen. *strums guitar*
Otto: OMG WTF WHAT IS THAT YOU SAID I COULD EAT IT.
And then he ran into the hallway and yelled at me from behind the door for five minutes before he forgot what had happened. The photo was taken at his second attempt to determine the nature of the guitar.
I’m sure nobody’s forgotten Moto, King of Pants.
It usually goes something like this:
Moto: *stands and hooks claws into jeans* *stretches* Heeeeeeeeeeeeeyyy.
WP: Oh, hey.
WP: Yeah, you said that already.
Moto: Heeeeeyyy. I’m on your paaaaants.
WP: *scoops Moto up* Not anymore, jerk.
Moto: *puts nose on my glasses* *purrs* I love you.
Moto: *full force headbutt* I love you.
WP: That’s n—
WP: *tries to spit out newly acquired fur* Okay—headbutt—I’m gonna—headbutt—put you—headbutt—down now.
Moto: PURR *hugs my hand*
WP: *ices face*
Brunch is the most important meal of the week. So naturally negotiations with regard to favored brunch spots are going to be intense. Witness this (text message) negotiation between me and my friend, who will be known as Alexis, because that’s totally her name. I won’t give out her phone number for less than $1k/person, though.
Note: ALL text messages have been edited for grammar and spelling (this convo happened between 1 and 1:30am) and some have been ellided because they just clutter shit up.
[We decide to get brunch next weekend. I suggest Luna Park. She says...]
Alexis: Can we go somewhere less expensive and with better food/drink?
WP: Right. I am gonna go think about cheap brunch places that don’t serve crappy bloody marys and also how to catch unicorns.
WP: Also, I like oxygen.
Alexis: It can be done. Tipsy Pig in the marina has fabulous bloodies, but we’re not going to the marina.
WP: Right. *scribbles over marina on map of SF brunch spots.* NO MARINA. Farmer Brown?
Alexis: I don’t really like the food there either.
WP: HEY UNICORN? WHERE CAN I FIND A BRUNCH PLACE ALEXIS LIKES WITH GOOD BLOODY MARYS AND, LIKE, A PIRATE SERVER AND A LIVE BAND? ALSO I WANT GOLD PLATES. CHEAP.
Alexis: Ooh, that sounds like a great place! Let’s go there.
[...series of texts in which we narrow brunch spots down to two and I flip a coin to decide...]
WP: Okay. Brunch at Farmer Brown. In other news, I have a unicorn, now.
Alexis: I want one.
WP: Turns out unicorns take up a lot of space? Um. Honestly, I dont know where you would keep one at your place. Also, I think they are allergic to mold.
Alexis: I don’t want one. I don’t think they poop rainbows. I’m pretty sure it’s just regular horse poop with glitter. I don’t want to clean up after that.
WP: Are you kidding? This fucking unicorn has been here for 15 minutes and it’s already left a pile of rainbow in my living room. Worse? No pot of gold. WTF.
WP: Want some rainbow?
WP: Damn. Hey, this whole convo just gave new meaning to “taste the rainbow.”
Click on the pic to buy the t-shirt and support the artist, Mike Jacobsen, who graciously
gave me permission to use this image.
My cat worships at the base of the heater.
“I love you,” I imagine him whispering tenderly,
Reaching a paw out to touch the tile on which
purring only for the flame that is just—
to my relief—
out of his reach.
“I love you,” he says, “but Heater, oh beloved Heater—
can you do something about
this dry food situation?”
The heater sighs regretfully, and creaks its sad reply:
Remember Moto Nimitz, bathroom companion?
Moto decided to help me with my post-shower routine today.
Moto: Hey, you’re wet.
WP: Hey yeah, I am.
Moto: I can pull your towel down.
WP: Hey, now. I wasn’t done with that.
Moto: Yes you were.
WP: Fine. I’ll just put my pants on.
Moto: Those are pants! I want to be in your pants.
WP: Moto, not again.
Moto: PAAAAAAANTS! I’m IN THEM!
WP: GODDAMN IT MOTO.
Moto: PAAAAANTS! Oooooh, whuzzat?
WP: NOT YOURS. *reaches down to remove cat from pants*
Moto: PAAAA–HEY. Not cool, pants monkey. Now this is happening. *pounces on foot*
WP, with pants still down and cat attacking foot: I—agh…NO—MOTO!
…and that’s the story of how I ended up half-naked on the floor of my friends’ bedroom with my pants around my ankles, a cat nuzzling my ear, and a sincere appreciation for the fact that cats use neither cameras nor social media.
This is the most recent conversation I had with Nutz:
Nutz: Hey, you are just sitting there.
Me: Working. I’m working, Nutz.
Nutz: Hey, my paw’s on your leg now. Cuz you are just sitting there.
Me: Nutz. I’m working. These cases aren’t going to read themselves.
Nutz: Hey, both of my front paws are on your leg, now.
Me: Okay, I can put my arm over you to type.
Nutz: What if my front paws were on your other leg, and I was, like, standing on your lap?
Me: I can still see over you.
Nutz: And what if I were to lean into your chest and rub my head on your chin?
Me: I—Nutz, goddamn it.
Nutz: And what if I were to flip over onto my back in your arms and put my paw on your cheek?
Me: OHFORFUCKSSAKE. *cuddles cat, then removes him from lap and goes back to work*
2 minutes later…
Nutz: Hey, you are just sitting there.
This is Moto Nimitz:
This is my most recent conversation with Moto, who managed to get the door open to the bathroom while I was inside:
Moto: Hey, there you are.
Whiskeypants: Uh. Yeah.
Moto: Hey. Hey. Hey.
Moto: Hey, watcha doin? You peeing? Is that what you’re doing?
W: Yeah, seems like it.
Moto: Can I touch that?
Moto: What about this? And are those pants? I want to be in your pants.
Moto: Paaaants! I’m in them!
W: Moto. Moto, stop. Moto. MOTO THAT TICKLES.
Moto: Paaaants! Captive audience! Paaaaants!
W: Cat. I need to leave the room. And walk. *falls over*
Monday: Cat is miserable and scratching his fur off. Poor guy.
Thursday: Cat is infested and leaving flea parts and flecks of blood everywhere. Poor me.
Sunday: What is most likely to eradicate fleas and leave you and your pet alive? Must research.
Wednesday: I have begun the process of wiping them out. Tons of laundry, vacuuming, chemicals. My cat thinks that I am trying to kill him. A flea dip results in yowling and screaming for help. The neighbors do not come, and little Kitty Genovese must endure his bath. I keep telling him that it’s for the best.
Saturday: He’s not talking to me. I have changed his scent, replaced his collar, and he still itches.
Sunday: All is quiet.
Monday: More action must be taken. I thought them merely tiny groups of fleas. They were actually trained soldiers practicing guerrilla maneuvers on the part of a much larger organization.
Monday night: It’s cool. I can handle this. I am bigger than them, and I have a vacuum cleaner.
Tuesday: There are more than I thought. And they might have guns.
Wednesday: I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
I think they might be mobilizing, so I am doing this today. We can’t let tOH GOD THEY ARE ON MEEEEEEE