That handsome boy in the picture is our cat, Sylvester. The background? That’s my dryer.
He’s an unintentional menace. When he’s hungry or feeling affectionate, the danger is to me. When he’s in explorer mode, the risk is to himself.
He can’t help it. He’s a cat. A cat who happens to live with an often spaced-out, off-in-storyland writer. It is a combustible combination.
Years ago, my ex and I were renting a townhouse in the city. It was an older brick home, with a winding staircase. We shared it with our ferrets, our part-border-collie-part-who-knows-what pup, and a cat. With all those critters, something was almost always underfoot, but it was the cat who damn near killed me at least once a week. In the mornings, I’d crawl out of bed and stumble my half-blind way down that winding staircase to my coffeepot. She would follow, head-butting and weaving the whole way.
When you’re half asleep, this is a lot like having a stealthy little ghost try to push you down the steps.
One morning, I made it downstairs alive, grabbed the coffee creamer from the fridge, poured a cup and carried my steaming mug back upstairs to get ready for work. I left the creamer on the counter for the ex. As I got dressed and put on my makeup, I had that vague uneasy sense you get when something is missing. It took me a while to realize that it was the fleeting feeling of furry cat-body rubbing against my shins and ankles that was absent. I shrugged it off, figuring she must have gone down to the basement. Before leaving for work, I filled my travel mug with java and put the creamer back in the fridge.
When I opened the door and went to put the creamer on the shelf, a cold calico ball mrrrowwwwed angrily at me and went flying from the fridge, knocking over the mustard on her way. She had leapt in there to check out the leftover chicken when I’d opened the door to get the creamer earlier. My coffee-deprived sleepy eyes hadn’t even noticed.
If I had forgotten to put the creamer away that morning, I would have come home to a catsicle. I never would have forgiven myself.
So, as much as he thinks he’s the King of Menace, Sly is not the first cat to almost send me tumbling on my bum or get himself in a sticky situation by sneaking around behind me.
The house Lee and I live in is all one level, so he doesn’t have the advantage of stairs in his mischief-making. He has to be creative. His favorite tactics are to sneak up on me as I stand at the coffee pot, or creep up behind me when I’m at the bathroom mirror putting on makeup. Inevitably, I will step backwards and almost tumble over him. Once I’ve righted myself, he’ll look up at me with those lazy yellow eyes and give me the special meow that says “damn, why are you SUCH a clutz?”
I always reply with “You little douche.” He probably thinks that’s one of his names.
He has never tried to explore the fridge. But as you can see from the picture, he does have his other dangerous vices. Like the dryer.
My washer and dryer are a stacked unit in the corner of the kitchen. At first, I hated this setup. The whir of the washer and the rumble of the dryer are the soundtrack to our lives. Inevitably, the buzzer goes off at some critical moment in a movie or TV show Lee and I are watching. But there’s simply nowhere else to put the thing in our little house, so I look at the bright side. Laundry is super-convenient, and there’s never any lugging baskets of clothes up and down stairs.
Sly looks at the bright side too. He can almost kill himself without moving too far.
He’s drawn to the dryer in its still-warm state after I’ve done a load of clothes the way a moth is to a porch light. He watches me pull toasty clothes from the machine and fold them, waiting for that perfect moment to leap on in. He prefers there to still be some soft shirts or towels to roll on, but an empty dryer will do if it must.
Once, I reached in, felt fur, and squealed in shock. He gave me his “man, you two-leggers are stupid” meow.
But my big fear is that like my former kitty and the fridge, he’ll catch me in a spaced out moment and get trapped in there. Laundry is montonous and never-ending. For a writer, that means that while you are doing it is the perfect time to hatch plots and mull over characters. You can let the real world fade away while you’re balling up your socks.
At least, you can if you don’t have to worry about trapping your dumbass cat in the dryer because you aren’t paying attention.
Cats and writers, one stealthy and one spaced out, are an unintentional menace to each other. But I love my well-named Sly, and wouldn’t trade him for the world.
So I’m really glad my dryer sits in the hub of the house, where I’ll be sure to hear him in time to save him if he ever ends up on tumble-dry.