Jacquie picked out Norman (left) from the cat rescuers at the Kips Bay Petco on 22nd Street and Second Avenue in New York. It was a cool, sunny October afternoon in 2006 and we hadn’t gotten over the untimely death of the other cat we’d adopted together, whom we euthanized that June after the old man contracted a rare venereal disease during one of his excursions to Thailand. I remember that we were still wearing our black veils and speaking in somber, monotonous tones, droning on and on about our existential anxieties like some boring Eugene O’Neill drama. We’d been in this state for months, swooning over the loss of our poor, deaf, stinky-assed cat, Puffy.
That’s when Jacquie saw Norman. She asked if she could take him out of the cage. The cat rescue volunteers, unaccustomed to human interaction, ran away from us, hiding and napping in some of the empty shelves in the back, alternately hissing at and grooming one another. Their ways were not our ways. But through sheer patience, we succeeded in getting Norman out of his cage for a closer look.
It was love at first sight. Oh, Norman. You came and you gave without taking. You kissed me and stopped me from shaving. And I need you today, oh Norman. I knew Jacquie had her heart set on this guy, but I didn’t really want another cat. Not after what happened to Puffy. So we decided to take a walk to clear our heads. But when we returned, Norman was still there, and from that day on, he crawled into our hearts like a big, fluffy parasitic nematode.
And the three of us lived happily together for three years. More or less.
But now all we have left are pictures, and memories and a few extra cans of Natural Balance. Sure, we wanted to take Norman with us to Auckland. We’d planned on it. We started the process in February, 2009, getting Norman tested for rabies, updating his vaccinations. New Zealand is quite restrictive concerning pets, with reason. They’re especially wary of rabies and so they require a series of tests leading up to the very day of departure. The cost to do this by ourselves would be at least $2,000, if not more. There was a transcontinental flight to arrange, a week-long stay in Los Angeles for the final battery of tests and inspections and a month long quarantine in Auckland. Soon we realized that if we made even the slightest error in the paperwork or the procedure, we could end up spending thousands of dollars more to correct it.
We called a full-service company, and their rates began at $5,000. We just couldn’t justify that kind of expense for a cat when we had other priorities that needed addressing, such as my leather bag fetish, and Jacquie’s ever-growing collection of Smurf tchotchkes.
So we had to find a home for Norman. But that’s a story for another day. Excuse me while I go cry.