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  • Writer's pictureGary Gruber

It Has Gotten Weird Enough for Me

I don’t take drugs (excessively) and I don’t take hallucinogens (intentionally). I had already had my first cup of coffee this morning so I can’t write this off to caffeine fatigue.

I’m up very early in the morning, usually before 4 am. There is this ritual I follow very closely. At around 4 am Spot (one of our five cats) comes into the bedroom, starts howling, and lightly swipes at my leg with one paw. This is my wake-up call. I haven’t needed an alarm clock in the six years he has been on duty. He is amply rewarded for his efforts to get me out of bed.

I push the START button on the coffee maker, clean up anything in the kitchen from the previous evening, and crack open the door so the cats can play in-and-out. Before you start to rail about “Why do you have so many cats?” in a smarmy voice, let me tell you this: We used to have a lot more. Five is a good number for us. Keeps us grounded and distracted.

I generally wait for Macho, our alpha cat, to stroll in. He decides when breakfast is served. But something else happened this morning that I am at a loss to explain. I’m sitting in my office at my computer -- configuring my new scanner. Three cats are sitting calmly on the patio, enjoying the cool morning air when a giant rat comes sauntering by. He stops momentarily to make eye contact with me, and I swear by everything that is holy he has the face of Woody Allen.

I know what you’re thinking. 1958. “The Fly”. Vincent Price. “Help me……” “Help me….”

Well, it wasn’t that. This was a younger Woody Allen, the Woody Allen who was schtupping his adopted daughter.

Now I know what you are really thinking. This wasn’t just “The Fly”. It was “The Fly” and 1960, “The Time Machine.” Woody Allen travels back in time with Alan Young, they meet Vincent Price, the experiment goes horribly wrong, Alan and the rat lands in my yard, and here we are! Makes perfect sense.

So Woody-the-rat casually strolls past my three cats. They all turn their heads in unison and as Woody rounds the corner, they peel away one-by-one like The Three Stooges, but with the flair and precision of the Blue Angels carving space in the sky at a fourth of July celebration.

I run to the dining room, grab my flashlight and head outside. If you are not familiar with how cats dispatch rats I’ll give you the blow-by-blow. Once the rat is cornered and has no avenue of escape, the cat pounces and bites his head off and eats it. They then bring the rat remainder to you as a prize, a humble way of sharing their adventure. Nothing says “I Love You” like a decapitated rat at your feet. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt, more than once.

As a sidebar, cats handle birds very differently. Birds are carefully brought into the house alive and unharmed (I’ve lost count of the number of birds I have rescued from this precarious situation and released over our backyard wall), so the cats can have hours of fun chasing it around. Better than any toy you can buy them at Petsmart.

I immediately close my office and kitchen doors, the two I keep open early in the morning so the cats can move about. I certainly don’t want my wife to come strolling in and say “Hey Gary, what’s this flea-infested, headless dead rat that looks like a younger version of Woody Allen doing on the kitchen floor?”

I’m figuring that by now either the rat has escaped or he has become an after dinner mint for one of my brood. I figured wrong. He has circumnavigated the house and takes another quiet stroll past my office door. Maybe this really is Woody Allen? He certainly carries himself with an air of aplomb around my absolutely-killer-cat-crew.

My favorite author from the 70’s was Hunter S. Thompson. I was always intrigued by his Gonzo Journalism and the uncanny way he could paint pictures with words. One of my favorite sayings of his was “It just hasn’t gotten weird enough for me yet.”

Well, HST, I can assure you, after this morning, it has gotten weird enough for me…

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