Sunday, January 20, 2013

Emmylou Harries and Patsy Feline; Or How Allan Became a Deranged Cat Lady

I, Allan Davis, perhaps lacking both a sound mind and body, attest today that I, despite what I consider a long--nay, a life-long--commitment to my self-expressed dog-person identity, have of late turned to the ways of the cat lady. I here both confess my own lapse in prudence and accuse the culprits who have so surreptitiously undermined my sanity. And so, with a heavy heart but necessary fortitude, I press forward: J'accuse Emmylou! Et tu, Patsy!

Pictured: The Shadowed Silhouettes of Feline Felons

It all started five months ago when I moved into a house with three of my friends. Sara brought the kitties. Their names are Emmylou Harries and Patsy Feline; named, respectively, after Emmylou Harris and Patsy Cline. (Sara has remarked that if she ever got a male cat, she'd name him Steven Se-claw.)

Emmylou shames her namesake

Patsy Cline laughs at her counterpart's attempts to pass as a saint

At first, I was able to keep my distance. I refused to acknowledge them when I returned home from school. I'd shut the door to my room to build my new bookshelf. I'd even go to the laundry room for the relief of solitude, knowing it was a space they were and are not allowed because Sara's terrified they'll sneak in the dryer and die. But they kept following me. They were everywhere I went. They kept greeting me at the door. They kept sitting in the bay window in the kitchen. They kept running towards me when I picked up the toys with bells at the end. And tell me, what exactly does one do when he wakes in the night to go to the bathroom, shuts the door, and finds himself locked in a room with the cat with one glassy eye?

 They say when you look into her eye, you'll see how you die.

I've been told that Sara got Patsy because of her eye; that when she was a kitten, her eye was probably scratched by her own mother. Sara took Patsy in and gave her a home because the vicissitudes of life had befallen this demon and Sara had to do what she could to give the cat some kind of chance. It is a constant challenge to supply Patsy with the love she needs that will change her heart. Despite her species, Patsy's a straight up bitch. Pet her, but don't pet her too long because then she bites you. Don't leave your seat because then it's hers to take. Make sure you give her clean kitty litter regularly or she'll start pooping right outside the litter box until you meet her demands. And don't even get me started on how she eats her share of food and Emmylou's or kicks Emmylou out of the kitty bed if she happens to feel like taking it! (My nickname for her when she starts putting on weight for stealing Emmy's food is "Obe-tsy.")

Sometimes, she will even plop herself on the board in the middle of the room you're using o play a Shakespeare themed game that's literally (no joke) entitled Shakespeare: The Bard Game. 

Which brings us to Emmylou. See Patsy you know is evil because she's selfish, demanding, and basically your everyday cat. Emmylou is sinister precisely because she's not you're everyday kitten. Oh no, she's got autism. Sara diagnosed her. See Emmylou is not quite like other cats. It's like she knows how to be a cat sometimes, she knows what a cat should do; but when she tries to execute those behaviors, it's like she's almost but not quite replicating the right actions. She knows that to show affection to the human beings around her, that she should come up and rub against your legs. But in trying, she more occasionally hits her head or the back of her butt against your leg, turns around, tries it again, but then also kinda fails again. She chases invisible objects on the walls. When she goes to jump on cat post, the bay window, or the couch, it takes her just a little too long to work out the logistics. She approaches, backs away, gets ready to jump, and then retreats, starting the pattern all over again. And if she doesn't spend five minutes working through that process, she'll forego jumping and just try climbing up through an awkward effort where she pulls herself up with her front legs. And it doesn't always work, so she'll either just fall or continually attempt to thrash her back legs enough to get them up and over. Also she licks the glass windows. 

Pictured: The World Seen through the Eyes of a Dreamer Who Still Believes

Sara tells me that she gave Emmylou a home because she was very scrawny as a kitten; as her special mannerisms emerged, Emmylou became more endearing. And it is for this reason that Emmylou is far more insidious than Patsy--that and I've discovered that Emmylou is my spirit animal. We have decided that I am one of Sara's kittens, that I am Emmylou in human form. This realization came from two epiphanies. The first is just the parallels. Like Emmylou, I lack motor function and proper coordination. Quite simply, we're both too clumsy for our own good. Also, my roommates have taken to calling me "Rainman," in reference to Dustin Hoffman's character in the film Rain Man--the nickname stemming for my uncanny ability to remember the most minute details of TV shows, movies, and all other sorts of random trivia. Point is, Rainman knows a lot of stuff, but doesn't quite function like most other people. I lack common sense. Obviously, the reason that Emmylou is a bit off is because, like me, she's just too brilliant for her own good.

Second epiphany: one day, Sara and I were preparing to get a Christmas tree for the house. She was explaining her love of Charlie Brown-esque Christmas trees: she likes to find the tree that no one else loves, take it home, and give it a nice place to live. While she said it, I laughed. "It's like the cats," I replied. "How you got Emmylou because she was tiny and special and Patsy because of her eye." I continued, "Or the house. How we moved there because we both thought that the decorating was awful and that we loved it both ironically and sincerely--we wanted to make sure that someone good took care of the awful looking house." And then I blurted out, "Or me! ... Oh, NO!" And I was joking, but also it was in that moment that in some small way, I am as Emmylou.

I love these cats. They are awesome. When Sara pulled out the Christmas tree ornaments for them, I got super excited. They are ornaments that look like the cats and they are perfect. Patsy's is black and white, but the big thing is that it so smug looking. And Emmylou . . . what exactly can be said about Emmy's? It's calico, but more importantly, it's cross-eyed.

Says it all, really.

The greatest thing is that there's an ornament right below them. You can see in this picture that there's a lace string between them. That lace goes to a picture frame holding a small photograph of me. I am in a world with these cats. They are so ridiculous and so cute and so entertaining. It is nice to come home to them. It is nice to try to pet them and see how long it will be before Patsy starts biting at my hand or before Emmylou runs off because she doesn't quite handle being near people well. I enjoy sharing my space with animals that possess such lively personalities.

But I know where this dark road leads. It leads to reclusivity. It leads to sending texts, posting pictures, and writing blogs about the cats. It takes you down a path of endowing creatures with anthropomorphic characteristics that they never asked for. It ends with becoming a woman who makes videos about giving your cats massages. 

Behold: The Inevitable Future of Allan Yet to Come

But how can I stop? How can I prevent pursuing this slippery slope? I know I have a problem. There was one day I looked at Patsy and reflected, "I understand why the Egyptian pharaohs wanted to be buried with you." Another time I confessed, "I wish I could quit you." But still, how can I not stop, admire, and share something like this?

She got her head stuck in the handle of the Georgetown Cupcake bag I had been using to transport my lunch to school.

Photos courtesy of Sara Thompson and Allan Davis