Friday, July 27, 2012

Now Hiring: Cheese Patrol

I don't expect my cats to do a lot of chores. I'm sure many people expect their cats to make their beds, do the dishes, provide investing advice, and so on, but we're more laid back. Until we had Snalbert, I only expected my cats to fulfill only two obligations: to eat bugs and to pose contentedly by the fireplace whenever we lit a fire (which we haven't done in years). Of course, our cats have helped out with other things on a voluntary basis: herding Christmas bows, subduing errant Dunkin Munchkins, art history research (Possum), etc.

It was Snalbert who initiated the Cheese Patrol, persuaded me of its importance, and gave our cats the choice of assuming or shirking their fromagical responsibility. He was always in the kitchen at cheese time, at all hours, in all kinds of weather, to sample the fromage du jour and approve it for human consumption. Snicky and Chloe had no interest in cheese, but when we brought Bunnelina home in 1998, Snalbert recognized her potential and appointed her as his Deputy. And, until she left us in 2009, she never met a cheese she wouldn't try.

The Head of the Cheese Patrol determines that pumpkins are not cheese.

Snalbert and I hoped that Wendy and Possum would show enough talent to earn them Junior Deputy status, but we were quickly disappointed. The first test of a Cheese Patrol candidate is "Recognizes that Cheese Is Food." Both cats have failed this test on dozens of attempts, even as they watched Bertie snarf up the bits of cheddar, American, Gruyère, fontina, or Gouda, that they'd rejected.

They definitely have Fireside Cat potential but are hopeless with cheese.

I haven't completely given up on them, but I have a feeling that Cheese Patrollers are born, not made. I have no faith that either one can assume Snalbert's role with any enthusiasm even if they do manage to swallow a piece of cheese someday. I had no idea it was so hard; Snalbert's absence is felt in so many ways around here. We can try to recruit new members, of course, but I have no idea how to identify talent. Should I sneak some little cubes of Laughing Cow into the cages at shelters? 

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