My cat is the reincarnation of Chuck Berry.

I heard Chuck Berry is actually still alive somewhere, but I don’t think that interferes with what follows.

For those who are unaware, Mr. Berry is also known as “Johnny B. Bad.”  I’m sure Google could enlighten you regarding the scandals which surround him.  Please proceed with caution, though.  I am already feeling a wee bit apologetic for what I am about to divulge.

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Elsie found me at the SPCA.  The minute I walked into her room, she shimmied up me, licked my cheek, and unzipped my fleece with her teeth.  It was unsettling but charming, and I didn’t say no.

As I was filling out the adoption paperwork, a volunteer went to pack her up.  He returned 20 minutes later, wild-eyed and disheveled, and shoved the cardboard carrier at me. “Whatever you do,” he said breathlessly, “DO NOT OPEN THE BOX UNTIL YOU GET HOME.”

In hindsight, we should have tossed her in the trunk, but I foolishly sat with the carrier on my lap the whole way home.  Elsie promptly destroyed my favorite sweater by clawing at me through the air holes, and sensing her anxiety, I tried to yelp as soothingly as possible.  Next she pressed her face into the side of the box with such force she made a hole.  Rather than let her escape, I pressed the carrier against me while she eviscerated my torso.  Frankly, I was afraid she would jump the driver and we would all die.

Now settled, Elsie likes to leap out of nowhere to attack innocent children.  She steals stuffed animals and rips their eyes out.  She has taken over the loveseat, and will defend it by any means necessary.  Do not even lean against that thing.  She swipes bacon and roast chicken off my plate if my attention wanders for even a nanosecond.  She perches on my shoulder when I sit down at the computer.  If I don’t start fawning immediately, she digs her front claws into whatever bare flesh she can find and dangles her rear down until it hits the keyboard and ruins something important.

When my children have playdates, it is not uncommon for the visitors to express terror and frustration.  “Can you please move your cat?”  tiny voices ask me.  “She is staring at me in a scary way.”  I totally understand.

Still, she has a number of more endearing qualities.  She quacks, for example, which is entertaining.  She plays fetch.  She sleeps curled around my neck like a scarf.  She cleans my eyebrows, kneads my neck, purrs in my ear.  And, she loooooves me.  She follows me about the house, outside, even down to the corner, and holds a vigil for me when I go beyond that.  When I drive up, she runs out into the middle of the street and lies down in oncoming traffic.  She REFUSES TO MOVE, too, until I also walk into traffic and scratch her belly.  So far, drivers have thankfully noticed and stopped in the nick of time, but they stare at the black fuzzy blob blocking their way.  ‘Is that your cat?’ they ask, staring incredulously.  Not really.  I’m her person.

Elsie was the temporary name assigned by the shelter, and we tried hard to rename her. Nothing stuck.  She does have quite a few nicknames, however, including “Buttwig.”  Here’s where the ghost of Chuck Berry emerges.

When everyone is away or asleep, I generally do not close the bathroom door.  I think ventilation can be your friend in there, and the bathroom window is essentially broken.  In the event of an emergency, I could probably pry it open, but I would need a good 10 minutes to wrestle the thing shut before the hinges give out completely and I behead one of the neighbors.  I’ve heard they frown on that sort of thing.

Trouble is, now that Elsie has moved in, she likes to hang out wherever I am–especially in the bathroom.  Specifically, she likes to squeeze behind me on the seat and settle in. Buttwig.  She licks my buttocks.  Gross.

If I forget and complain about it, my spouse will suggest gallantly: “why don’t you just close the f*cking door?”  That makes sense, of course, except that’s the sort of thing I would need to remember to do BEFORE I sit down.  Also, it’s difficult to pry her off once she’s settled.  Have you ever tried to pick up a clawed creature from behind your back?

I now have to flush before I stand up, too, or that cat will try and climb into the soiled toilet.  What is that about?

I also tend to leave the door open when I shower to help with condensation issues (c.f. broken window).  Elsie will hop on the side of the tub and stare at me with a spooky intensity that makes me blush.  If she leaves, it is only to go and take a dump outside the door, so we can both marvel at the deadly aroma emitted by kitten poo.  The she will return to befoul my fluffy white towel and stare at me some more.

Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for her odd behavior, but I can’t think what it might be.

The bizarre thing is that when I occasionally lock her in the basement or outside for the night–usually by accident–I find I miss that crazy cat.  Where is my scarf, I wonder.

A neighbor saw me today, wrestling gigantic things out of the trunk.  He offered to help, for which I was very grateful.  As we lugged boxes into the house he noticed Elsie.  “Um.”  Long pause.  “Is that YOUR cat?” he finally asked.  I was a little embarrassed to say yes.  “She seems very sweet,” he said, “but completely crazy.”  Agreed.

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Beret Olsen

Writer, photographer, teacher, and part-time insomniac.

3 thoughts on “My cat is the reincarnation of Chuck Berry.”

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