“LITTLE MAN ON THE COUCH”…On Sound Machines & Drill Sergeants

Little’s therapist returns from break.

TP: Happy New Year, Little. How’d the holidays treat you?

LM: Not bad, doc, considering.

TP: Considering?

LM: You know the drill. The family blitzkrieg, too many kids, wrapping paper flying all over the place, “sound machines”…like these kids need help making noise.

TP: What are sound machines?

LM: You must’ve seen ‘em…little things look like cell phones with a bunch of buttons that sound out everything from applause to belching and farting. Guess which buttons the little sweetheart grandkids pushed about a thousand times?

TP: Annoying?

LM: Ya think? Plus this year we got a double dose of holiday fun. When Christmas night finally (mercifully) ended, I figured the worst was over. Wrong! Next day, the New Jersey contingent showed up, everybody else returned, and they did it all over again. Who coordinates scheduling for these people?

TP: How about you? Any good stuff?

LM: A few catnip-loaded tchotchkes and, you’ll love this, a tie.

TP: A tie?

LM: Yeah. You know how the Facebook crowd loves to post pictures of their pets in dress up? Well, apparently kitties in ties were all the rage this year, so mom just had to get me one.

TP: She make you wear it?

LM: She tried. What a joke. Damn thing couldn’t go halfway around my fullback-sized neck. She ended up giving it to that little dweeb, Curly, and special ordering a new one for me. So yeah, eventually, she got her picture. Not easy though. I refused to stand there like it was my first day at the rodeo, all spiffed and polished. She had to work for that shot.

TP: You’re a hard case, Little.

LM: Gotta be, doc. What’s next? Reindeer antlers? Bunny ears? You gotta draw the line or they start treatin’ you like a prop. I got friends in that Facebook world, too, you know.

TP: Right. Hey, speaking of friends…

LM: Aw, don’t remind me. This is such a depressing time of year. Everybody goes deep cover…the chipmunks, birds, mice, even the fox. The occasional stinkbug buzzes through, but not much to work with there. Besides, the name ‘bout says it all. We did have a bit of excitement last week, though.

TP: How so?

LM: Well, I’m snozzin’ through the night as usual up on the chaise in the bedroom; mom and dad in dreamland nearby, when I hear some movement downstairs. I head down to check it out and, sure enough, there’s a mouse pokin’ around in the TV room.  I gotta tell you, I was pretty jazzed.  The TV room’s not all that big but it’s loaded with furniture and other cover for the little vermin. A real challenging playing field! Game on.

TP: How’d you do?

LM: I have to be honest. He was pretty cagey for a little fatso.

TP: Two heavyweights going at it, eh?

LM: I’ll let that little barb pass, doc. How about you let me tell the story?

TP: Sure. Sorry.

LM: So we go at it for, I don’t know, probably an hour or so. Knocked over a lamp and a few knick-knacks in the process. Thought mom or dad might wake up but they were obviously gonzo. Eventually, little Jerry got himself wedged in real tight behind a cabinet and, as you so impetuously just pointed out, I’m not as svelte as I used to be. I figured I need this? Tomorrow’s another day. So I tucked back in until morning.

TP: Smart. Awaiting reinforcements?

LM: Bingo. That morning, mom comes down, sees the aftermath of overturned lamps and stuff, and alerts dad. Now dad and I have teamed up more than a few times on mouse patrol, so he gets it immediately. He’s been chasing a mouse, he tells mom who, at that point, quickly moves from confused to catatonic. Meanwhile, I place my considerable girth in front of the aforementioned piece of furniture, dad immediately picks up on my signal, peaks around the back, and the chase is on again.

TP: How’d that go?

LM: Entertained the heck out of me, but dad got pretty miffed. First, he’s screaming at mom to get his mouse-catching gloves. Meanwhile, Jerry’s on the move from behind the cabinet to behind a sofa. Dad moves the sofa, Jerry goes behind the TV; dad moves the TV, Jerry goes behind the other sofa; this dance goes on for a few minutes, with dad getting especially frustrated because, every time he moves something, not only does Jerry move, but some decorative trinket tumbles to the floor. Meanwhile, mom’s a big help, saying the whole scene looks like a Laurel & Hardy skit. You can imagine the effect that comment had on old dad.

TP: Weren’t you helping?

LM: Here’s the thing, doc. I got fantastic night vision but, in the daylight, I kinda turn into Mr. Magoo. I know you’ve heard the story about the sunny afternoon I “momentarily lost” the chipmunk I was playing with, only to discover I was sitting on him. I don’t know…too much light, and I have trouble with the close-in stuff.

TP: Mr. Magoo. Funny.

LM: Yeah, another mom-created nickname. She’s a real scream, that lady.

TP: So, Jerry got away?

LM: Not a chance. Eventually, dad flushed him out of the TV room and Jerry made a beeline for safe harbor on the other side of the house. Big mistake. Dad was on him like white on rice.  Scooped him up and took him outside. Wanted me to go along, but I passed. Hell, I’d been up half the night with the little rodent. I was ready for breakfast and a nap.

TP: Hmmm. OK, so here we are, a couple weeks into a brand new year. Looking forward to it?

LM: Not really. It’s gonna be a tough one.

TP: How so?

LM: I just found out my cook and doorman (mom and dad) scheduled a couple big trips over the next few months. They’re celebrating a special Mom birthday (apparently she’s gonna be 40 again!) and their 25th wedding anniversary.

TP: What’s that mean for you?

LM: It means basic combat rations delivered twice a day by a guy named Patrick, a fat-phobic Army Drill Sergeant wannabe, who also regularly refers to me as “just a cat.” I’d like to give him “just a cat” swipe across his nose, but no point shootin’ myself in the foot. Combat rations are better than no rations. Fortunately, I also get the occasional visit from Snow White.

TP: Snow White?

LM: Yeh…this lady friend of my parents. Got that nickname because she’s turned her backyard into a virtual wildlife refuge. Pretty much feeds every animal—homeless, feral, or just plain anti-establishment—that wanders within sight of her house. She took a liking to me so, when mom and dad are away, she swings by every so often “to play.” She’s a real sweetheart, but it took a while for me to make her understand that my philosophy on play is basically pay-to-play. I mean, it’s not like I don’t appreciate that she actually hand-makes catnip toys for me, but hey, you can’t eat catnip. Know what I mean?

TP: Gotcha.

LM: Hey, doc, before I forget. Keep your eye out for the new issue of Cats Are People Too Magazine. I’m gonna be in it.

TP: No kidding!

LM: Apparently, the editors saw my profile last summer in “Collared”—the local paper’s pet blog—and decided I’d be perfect for their back page Celebrity Questions feature. You know, where they pose dopey questions, like if you could come back in your next life as a person, who would it be? and What do you most like/dislike about yourself? Lots of magazines do it. You’ve seen ‘em, right? And the celebs give clever answers that they probably paid some free-lance writer to craft? Well, coming soon to a newsstand near you, doc…

TP: Pretty cool, Little. How about you bring it with you next time?

LM: Will do, doc. Will do.

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