Mr. Bones is our boy-cat. We’ve had him about a year and a half—he wandered into my path when I was walking home from the train one afternoon. He meowed and yowled and stood in front of me, so skinny I wondered how he was still alive. But he knew exactly what he was doing. Of course I picked him up and carried him home; of course we ended up keeping him. We added him to the family of girl-dog, boy-dog, and girl-cat, not to mention boy-Jim and girl-Vinita.
Mr. Bones no longer looks like his name; he is sleek and filled out and full of himself. His nickname is Avalanche, because whenever we hear anything sliding or crashing to the floor, we apprehend Bones fleeing the scene as we arrive to assess the damage. If we don’t pick him up and put him in bed with us, he might wander around the house half the night, causing all sorts of upset. Once tucked in, he seems to realize that it’s bedtime and that he’s tired.
I was working in the living room last evening when I heard an unusual sort of crash—it wasn’t glass or plastic breaking, or metal bouncing off the kitchen tiles. Jim made it to the accident site before I could put down my laptop.
We have stairs leading from the kitchen down to the family room in the basement. There’s a half wall between the kitchen and the stairwell, upon which I place things from time to time. I keep a fruit basket there. Bones must have tried to get into it or get something out of it. In any case, the basket came off the shelf, and the several clementines in it went tumbling down the stairs and rolled across the family room floor in as many directions. According to Jim, Bones was so startled that he actually made it downstairs before a single Clementine reached bottom.
I tell of this incident because I’m goofy-crazy about my pets. I file this in Aphrodite’s Notebook because cuddly creatures provide positive stimulation of the senses. When you stroke those velvety ears or hold an affectionate cat, dog, or “other” against your cheek or your heart, that pleasure is in a category all its own. Maybe Jim and I go a bit far by allowing a cat to sleep under the covers between us, but it’s soothing to have that purring presence breathing against your tummy, especially during a Chicago January or February.
It’s pleasurable simply to give comfort, to pet and coo and look into the eyes of the dog that wants nothing more than to be petted and cooed over. Our girl-cat, Little Buddha (completely different personality from Bones!) meows at me, then runs downstairs and stretches out on a certain rug, which is my cue to come play with her, which I do by grabbing her belly, after which she clutches my hand and pretends to bite. Sometimes she just wants to stretch out on my chest while I’m reading or in Jim’s arms while he’s at the computer. Affection given, asked for, received, reciprocated. If only human relationships could remain so simple and direct, so honest and uncomplicated!
For Lent this year, I will be especially attentive to touch. I will more intentionally offer to other people touch that affirms or comforts them. I will allow my hand to linger a bit longer on my husband’s shoulder. I will extend my hand in fellowship to more people in more situations. I will accept the peaceful and encouraging touch of others as willingly as I receive Little Buddha when she nuzzles my shoulder, Mr. Bones when he curls up on my lap, Nala when she places her head under my hand for a pet, and Buddy when he lies on the couch so that his length rests against me. These lovely creatures will teach me a manner of peacefulness if I allow it. If I am wise, I will pass it on.