As my mother always said, there’s three stories to every story: My side, your side, and the truth. There’s been a whole lot of she said/she said round the internets lately and I suppose it’s just one more example of my mom ocassionally knowing what she’s talking about.
So I have a story. But I want to tell it two ways. May I?
Last week, I came home from work, weary, tired, ready to…what? What’s this? Right in my front hallway?
Two kittens. Hello.
“The vet strong-armed me,” Nate insisted. “When I took the dog in for her shots, she told me I had to take them.”
“You had to take them,” I said folding my arms. Nate had been begging for a new kitten for months now, to replace the evil hissing feline spawn of satan who currently resides with us. I have declined. Desdemona may be the most evil cat ever to drag her bloated, furless belly across a carpet, but she’s my most evil cat. And I love her. Besides, one cat, two kittens, one needy, attention-deprived bulldog, one baby, and two adults in one Brooklyn apartment? That’d be a big uhhhhhh..no.
Nate made a grand gesture of picking both kittens up at once and cuddling them close to his face. “They need to be fostered for two weeks until they can legally be adopted,” he told me. He went on making faces as he talked in sad, sad tones about their missing mother and how young they are and need a mommy and how the baby loves them…the baby, Liz! The baby loooooves them!
I was not buying.
“Do NOT name them, Nate!” I said. “Two weeks and they are going back. That’s the end of it.”
I have been very clear. Like my old 78 of Grease that used to play Hopelessly devo… Hopelessly devo… Hopelessly devo… I have been unmistakable in my mantra: No. More. Animals.
And he went and did it anyway. With the hopes that once I see them I’ll like them, and once I like them I’ll keep them. It’s manipulative. It’s so very Nate. And it pisses me off.
“The vet strong-armed you?” I asked. “She forced you to take them?”
“She handed them to you, with the carrying case and the food and shoved you out the door?”
“So bascially, if I go back there right now, hand the cats back to her, and yell at her for taking advantage of you, even after you told her that I would not allow them and that our building doesn’t permit four pets, I’m not going to hear a different story?”
“Well…okay, um, so here’s the thing….”
Well okay, um, nothing. The kittens are going back next week. They are eating everything in sight. They’re clawing my couch. They’re terrorizing the dog. They’re shedding on my clothes. They’re dragging poo remnants across the carpet in the baby’s room, not yet having learned how to properly rid their hind parts of the hangers-on. They’re keeping me up all night long as they roll and pounce on the wrestling mat otherwise known as my sleeping body.
And they’re really fucking cute.
Nate has always loved animals. A regular Doctor Doolittle, they love him right back, like nothing you’ve ever seen. He can walk into a pet store with a big DO NOT TOUCH THE PARROT, HE BITES sign right on the cage, and I swear that parrot will break out of his cage, fly right to Nate, land on his shoulder and start cooing.
Me? The parrot will bite. From Nate’s shoulder no less.
This is to say nothing of Nate’s relationship with dogs and cats. Rottweilers at the dog run lie down at Nate’s feet, subservient and humble. Lumbering old bulldgogs spring up on his legs for a pet. Little yappy nasty dogs on the street stop yapping just long enough to rub themselves against Nate’s ankles, before being yanked back down the sidewalk on rhinestone-studded chains by their equally yappy owners.
Even Desdemona, my own vile excuse for a cat, tolerates Nate. Which is to say she only hisses at him half the time. This is no insignificant matter; just ask any of our overnight guests who have woken us up in the middle of the night to beg that we might remove Desi from the bathroom doorway–that unnerved are they by the prospect of stepping over her fat, prone body.
Nate’s love of animals (and their reciprocal love for him) would be beautiful on its own, let alone coupled with the intense desire he has to save each and every one of them. He cannot hear of a puppy in need of an owner without personally calling every person he knows and begging them to take it. He is physically unable to walk past PetCo without donating the last 79 cents in his pocket towards the kitties up for adoption in the small teetery cages in the back.
And then coming back and asking me for another dollar.
I fear taking him to Italy, where cats roam the streets like New York City pigeons. I have an image in my head of a suspicious customs agent on our return to JFK opening his bag, only to find sixteen Calicos and a single Burmese Shorthair scampering away towards the baggage carousel.
Nate would simply shrug and smile. Then ask me for a check to pay the fine.
So when he came home last week with two six week-old motherless kittens, using every devious trick in his repetoire to compell me to agree to keep them–including coopting my camera and taking about a hundred ridiculously cute pictures of the baby petting them–it annoyed me to no end. But it also reminded me of one of the things I love most about Nate.
We’re not keeping the cats. But I am keeping Nate.