Friday Night Gratitude


Tonight is truly fantastic. Husband is out with a mostly well-behaved friend and both of my children seem to be asleep. Sure, Princess expects me up in the chair in her room but I am sure she understands when I say “I’ll be up after I finish the laundry and get a couple of other things done,” that I actually mean put clothes in the dryer then make a manhattan and sit on my front porch (shown in the picture) awhile.

Right now I’m drinking said manhattan and watching Friday night unfold on my street. I live in a house that was built in 1917, and most of the houses on my street were built within 10 years of that. In my neighborhood, the homes are close together and close to the street with large backyards. Some people might not consider it the best neighborhood, but tonight, already a little bourbon in, I think it’s awesome.

The smell of Dreft detergent (one of those “babies smell so good” tricks) is drifting up from my own dryer vent and it mixes with the citronella candle burning on my porch. I can hear the clatter of dishes being washed next door and imagine the 3 generations of Italians that live there had a good meal tonight. People are walking dogs and children all over the neighborhood.

At least that’s what was happening. I was just going to tell a quick story about my neighborhood, but here’s what happened instead.

So I’m typing away at the previous paragraphs and notice that Louie, who us supposed to be my indoor cat, is in the middle of the street. (He tends to take advantage of the open door while I’m carrying Buster and herding Princess.) He’s all black except for a white tuft on his neck and belly so I actually just noticed a weird shadow in the twilight.

I heard a car zooming up the street in his direction and yelled, “Louie!”

A bit of background on Louie- I adopted him after an acquaintance who’d become a Facebook friend seemed extremely distraught when she had to surrender him to a shelter for medical reasons. I’d wanted to adopt a cat for some time, and this situation seemed perfect- already neutered, good with kids, former owner who would delight in seeing pics on facebook. And I’d still get the good feeling from freeing up a space at the animal shelter.

I went to meet Louie and he made it clear he’d be coming to live with us. He was gorgeous. Sleek, shiny, reminiscent of what I imagine those royal Egyptian cats were like. And he had personality, too. I was one of 5 applications for him, I think.

If he could have spoken when I first met him, I think his directive would have been along these lines:
Placing his right paw upon my shoulder and looking into my eyes, (he really did do that) he would have said, “You, woman, shall take me home. From my arrival on, I will rule your home and all of its occupants.”

Then, as he moved his paw to gently, without claws, stroke my face (he really did that, too) he would have said, “now go forth, woman, and prepare. Purchase the finest imitation fishing rods to which catnip-filled shapes can be attached. Prepare your home with furniture that will accomodate my claws. Provide me with only round-shaped dry food or soft food soaked in gravy. Procure a large plastic box and fill it with sweet-smelling dirt. In exchange, I will place my feces and urine in said box. You may rake these gifts and place them in plastic bags to preserve for future generations as my previous owner did. That is my promise to you.”

He’s kept up his end of the bargain ever since. While my husband says he dislikes him, he’s found his bat-in-the-house-cornering skills useful and appreciates some of his other habits like bee killing.

Anyway, back to tonight. After I called his name, Louie ran out of the street with plenty of time to spare and seemed to ignore me.

A few moments later, I hear a lot of squeaking and thought that the bats must be out eating bugs.

Shortly after, Louie, forever the charmer, saunters on the porch. Apparently, he appreciated my life-saving yell. Dangling from his mouth, by its tail, was a gift for me. A mouse, still alive and squeaking (he must have really appreciated me because I usually just get the carcass on my doormat as he reserves the joy of killing it for himself.) In spite my fervent pleas otherwise, he was determined to bring it right to me.

I quickly backed off the porch and, looking confused and a little hurt, he let the mouse go and it was running and squeaking back and forth on my porch.

By then, my next-door neighbor had arrived. (He is husband of the middle generation of the aforementioned Italians.) All he saw was me backing off my porch excitedly saying something like, “Louie, no- I mean thank you, but no. I don’t need a gift. I don’t want it. No, stop, no! Get away from me! Can’t you just let it go? Let it go!!!”.

My would-be good samaritan neighbor had a good laugh when he saw the mouse and realized Louie was my cat and not a jealous ex-boyfriend.

So that is why that perfect seat on my porch next to my manhattan is empty in the picture above. This guy here- Louie, bearer of gifts of gratitude.

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