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.”
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.