Jumping the Shark, or “Everyone Loves a Kitten”

It’s been a busy week, so I haven’t had the time to post as much as I would have liked.

But then what do you care? That’s what I told Jacquie the other night when I showed her the blog statistics. Our readership was at an all-time low. I didn’t know you could get a number below zero visits. Obviously, we’d sprung a leak somewhere along the way. There were tough decisions to be made.

“Jacquie,” I said, “We’ve had a good long run. We’ve had a few laughs, a few tears, and a few dozen whip-its. But maybe it’s time we tossed in the towel. Maybe these stats are a sign to shut the lights off on this ‘Basement’ we call ‘Life.'”

“You could shut down the blog,” Jacquie said. “But who would notice?”

“Exactly. So what do I do?”

“I have just the thing that will boost readership.”

“What is it?”

“Shhh, come here.”

Jacquie opened her arms and gave me a hug but before I knew it, she managed to cover my nose and mouth with a damp handkerchief, and by the count of 10, I was unconscious. My wife had chloroformed me, just like on our wedding day.

I don’t know how much time passed, but when I woke up, I found us standing inside a long, brightly lit corridor with 25 cages built into the walls on either side, and a couple of strange people with ID badges, smiling at me.

“Feel free to ask us any questions,” one of them said.

“Who are you horrible people?” I said.

“It’s the Auckland SPCA,” Jacquie said. “We’re going to adopt a cat.”

“Damn it.”

The volunteers showed us several models to choose from. We learned that Auckland had just gotten through one of the biggest “kitten seasons” on record, but there didn’t seem to be many in the cages so I assumed that most of them had already been culled by licensed hunters or adopted, whichever applied to “kitten season.”  We didn’t mind so much, anyway, since Jacquie and I were accustomed to adopting old cats. Norman was four or five when we took him in, and Puffy was probably 14 or 15, and Graeme, well, we’re not so sure because, as it turned out, Graeme had probably been dead for several years before we rescued her.

But the older ones at the SPCA gave us the creeps, to say nothing of the cats they were showing us. We were none too impressed.

Until we met this young buck.

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in public, Kitten #102358. I mean, Chester. (Yes, observant reader, he is part blurry.)

A volunteer told us that Chester was the last of his litter to be adopted, because he was “naturally shy.” But that probably had nothing whatsoever to do with people constantly lurching at him with their big grubby hands. From my perspective, the nine-week-old seemed more than eager to come home with us and destroy our furniture.

So the volunteer took Chester out of his cage and whispered something into the poor guy’s ear. “I speak cat language because I’m an honorary non-feline member of the Cat Council*,”  the volunteer informed us. “I want you two to know, we all think you’re doing such a great thing.”  (“We” referring to said Cat Council, presumably).

Jacquie and I made for the exit as quickly as we could, but not in time to escape another volunteer who tricked us into buying thousands of dollars worth of unnecessary junk, like a scratching post, catnip toys and food. Then as we were carrying all this crap out to the car, I looked into the carrier.

“Hey, this carrier is empty,” I said.

“Oh, ha-ha, I must have unknowingly exchanged your carrier with an empty one while you weren’t looking, by mistake,” the volunteer said. “How did that happen?”

Chester tended to amuse himself with the scratching post before he discovered our credit cards.

Chester has been home with us now for three days, and I have to say he’s behaved like a perfectly normal kitten, playing with his catnip toys, smashing precariously stored plates and glasses, and scratching my corneas out with an X-acto knife. And the blog? Did Jumping the Shark by shamelessly and lazily exploiting the biological hardwiring of humans to take interest in all things small, doe-eyed and vulnerable, did that help bring our stats up?

Well, it’s too early to know. For now, let’s just say that if you don’t get everyone you know to read this blog right now, the kitten just might have an “accident,” if you know what I mean.

*This is a reference to a very old inside-joke in my family. With apologies to my sister, the lawyer, and her gracious decision to never pursue litigation against me, Jacquie or Basement Life and its subsidiaries, licensees, franchisees or partners, in perpetuity throughout the known universe.



  1. Oh sure, use the old cats trick!
    I am online dating and it’s hell out there! Oh wait! TAKING FIRE TAKING FIRE!
    You worry about those fighters I’ll worry about those towers!
    Uncle Owen’s home, quick get out get out, put the Jawa cloak on!
    Do you think Luke ever got any on tantoonie? I mean, no wonder he was so eager to get off the farm.

    Nice blog, very funny, I like the part about the cat, but then I love cat humor, you can’t go wrong with it. They are the perfect straight men.

    1. Thanks, Jay. I’ve always tried to live by the motto, “Fun for the whole family, not just the deranged part of the family.”

  2. I had a cat named Chester when I lived in Houston who looked suspiciously like the one you just adopted. Are you sure he’s really a kitten and not a 19-year-old cat from Texas?

    1. Thanks. He’s also a jerk, though, which is why I’m up at 3:30 in the morning. Wait, he just fell asleep. This might be my chance to call the police.

  3. Please don’t even joke about harming kittys. In my neighborhood they are subject to human, animal, and vehicular predators. You can always resort to rubber chicken stories.(roll the eyes) Do they sell rubber chickens in Auckland…..or Charlie Chan movies for that matter? Don’t give up the blog. Sooner or later people are going to get sick of one another on Facebook (I refuse to participate) and will go searching for more interesting material. You’re in the right place: be patient.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. In answer to one of your queries, they eat rubber chickens in Auckland.

      Where are you living these days? Oh, and how’s your daughter? Tell her I said hello. It’s been a million years.

  4. We are in South Florida hoping to get back North. It will be wonderful to have your Mom’s companionship again. Gina will be posting soon.

  5. you know your blog really sucks when you steal ideas from your younger sister’s journal…that she wrote when she was 8.

  6. Katz! What a great delicatessen! Chester never waiting on my table but I can tell you it’s probably because he couldn’t find my matzoh balls.

    Very good reading. I hope that you are somehow putting these stories together for entombment in a tome. Or possible enshrinment in a ….well place that sounds something like shrine but means book.

    Your sister the lawyer can sue you all she likes but only in Admiralty court. Since your cousins the sailors are only Liutenants (Leftenants if you want to be right down under) it will be some years before the case is heard. She is only upset because my son got over on her by reporting that his dog died during surgery to remove his manhood. Not my son’s, the dog’s. I think she wanted to remove his manhood when she found out it was all a lie ( my son’s not the dog’s).

    In any event carry on will you. I shall make attempts to drop by to see what is developing in your think tank from time to time.

  7. When you lie about dogs you come up with fleas, and when you lie about sheep you come up with fleece. And shepherd’s pie. It’s a win-win for everyone. Please do visit again. This is an At-Least-Once-Weekly publication.

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