Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Possum

I've only worked at home since Wendy and Possum arrived two years ago, and now Possum is feeling neglected because I've been away on jury duty for a week. He said he wasn't getting enough conversation, food, petting, toy-chasing, and love. He didn't see why I couldn't stay home if I felt like it. It's another of those situations that reveal gaps in his understanding. Remember when he thought that being on the FBI's Most Wanted List would be a wonderful thing?

Possum demonstrates "neglect and abandonment"

I outlined the basics of our federal court system for him and explained the vital importance of trial by jury. Possum didn't pay strict attention but he listened. Then he said, "Most disputes are best settled by wrestling. Afterward, everyone feels relaxed. And I still think it's horrible that you have leave me alone every day."

"But, Possum," I replied, "What if I had to go to work in some office? I did that for decades. Then you'd really miss me. Jury duty is temporary. You really are terribly spoiled."

"What do you mean, 'had to go to work'?" he asked, sitting up taller on the sofa.

"Well, working is something most people have to do. They go somewhere and perform tasks for 35 to 40 hours a week, or more. They do what they're told to do by their bosses. Or else they are the boss. They get paid money in exchange. I thought you knew all this."

"You're joking." he said. "Why would anybody do that? Is work very nice?"

"Not so much, usually, but people earn money so they can take care of themselves and their cats. When I was writing about art last summer, and you helped me, I was working. I got paid. I did that writing so we could eat and live here. I'm very lucky when I can work from home."

"Good god," he replied. "I thought you people could do whatever you wanted, all the time. When you go outside, you often come back with stuff. You go hunting, right? You catch all that stuff and put it in bags, right? That new purse I like, with the strap I need to chew on? You killed that, didn't you?"

"No, Possum," I said. "I don't hunt, exactly. I find things and spend money to get them. I don't chase and kill the groceries. Bostonians don't usually do that; they go to Trader Joe's. Surely you've never seen the neighbors stalking the wildlife in the alley? They run in the other direction."

He thought about it. "I suppose. So where does dad go every day? Does he work?"

"Yes! Now you're getting it. He teaches classes and goes to meetings so you can have Natural Balance Ultra Formula in cans, and bags of Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Light Formula."

He was silent for a while. When he's thoughtful, his eyes darken and his tail flicks up and down.

"So that's capitalism, eh? It strikes me as an unpleasant, inefficient system," he said. "Most of what you bring home is unnecessary anyway. Our lives would be happier if you both learned to live frugally and survive on hunting. I think I can teach you, although you're ridiculously uncoordinated. You can catch and kill things with your nails or your teeth, or both. With a strapping figure, like mine, you can also smother or squash prey with your belly. It becomes instinctive once you learn, at least it was for me. And if you choose to live like a cat, you will be beyond the law. You can forget about juries and find nicer places to sit all day and nap," he said. So he does have some insight into what jury duty is like after all.

To demonstrate his hunting technique, he cornered Wendy and attempted to squash her. She defended herself vigorously. Possum was distracted and our conversation ended. But tomorrow morning, he will put himself between me and the door again and squeak in protest when it's time for me to leave. Even Possum can't buck the system.

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