...just when you thought it safe to back into the water, you find you are sadly mistaken.
As I said, I have those moments of "going with the flow"... and others of sheer panic. And still others where I know that there is no such thing as happy endings, and that Tomcats will always be Tomcats and will never be tamed unless you cut off their balls (and that certainly takes all the fun out of life, dontcha think?).
When we were in Jamaica, we moved into a house at 38 Montgomery Avenue. There used to be an all-black tomcat that would come to visit. He was extremely affectionate, and stuck around for awhile, and we mistakenly assumed he had come to live with us. Poppy asked me what I wanted to name him, and I said Tree Andrew. I remember still how very little kids think... ideas suddenly spring full-blown into your head and you must act on them immediately, because for whatever reason, in that instant they make perfect sense. I remember the name "Tree Andrew" springing into my head and that's the name that took.
But one day, Tree Andrew took off. I wonder if, looking back on it, my parents got me another cat because Tree took off, but in any event, someone brought us a beautiful female tortoiseshell we named Kiki.
Then one day Tree Andrew came back, and he and Kiki had several litters of kittens together. Back then we never got our cats neutered... so there were always boys that were born and grew up. But life is harsh for kitty cats in Jamaica and many of them didn't live long. Some died before they even got out of the nesting box. One drowned in a flood--we'd been away on a vacation and came back to check on the house and found one of the cats--a ginger-colored tom, dead along the side of the house.
One cat fell out of the mango tree. He also was ginger-colored. He broke his jaw in the fall, and I remember watching him deteriorate, the smell of decay growing stronger every day until he finally crawled off somewhere and died.
There was Little Black, and Beethoven ( a shaggy haired black cat)... they both died but I can't remember how exactly. I think Beethoven died from injuries in a fight.
But the greatest of them all was Kisa, who's named got shortened to The Kiss. He also was jet black like his father, but unlike Tree Andrew who was snubnosed and compact, The Kiss was long an lean, like a panther. We loved him the most--almost as much as Kiki, and he was petted and loved accordingly. He knew he was pretty, and would lay on the windowsill licking himself.
One day he took off. I remember being devastated but I already knew that tomcats wandered, and so I remember being a little resigned.
We used to have "Party Day" every Thursday... "Magazine Day" was Wednesday and Poppy would walk to the pharmacy at Halfway Tree and buy us all magazines, and sometimes records (for those folk who remember... '45's. The ones you had to put the disc in so they'd fit on the record player. I always wondered why '45's had a bigger hole in the center than 33's...).
But Thursday was "Party Day" and Poppy would go to market and buy ground beef, and we'd either have chili and "Nana Jessie rice" (a red rice with chopped vegetables) or hamburgers. And we always had ice cream for dessert.
It was "Party Day" for the cats, too, because we would open up the paper container so it would lay flat, and leave a little ice cream for the cats on it. All the cats and kittens in the yard would would converge and lick the paper clean.
And somehow... The Kiss would find his way home every Thursday. He would wake us up Thursday morning by jumping on the windowsill... we'd hear his body rattle the glass pane and we'd run and open it, and there he'd be, black and pretty and licking himself. He'd stick around all day, allowing us to pet and love him, and come evening he'd join the other cats as they licked the ice cream container, but by Friday morning he was gone.
After awhile, he stopped coming home for Party Day, showing up sporadically. One day he beat the piss out of his father in a catfight... and then he stopped coming home altogether.
But he lives on in legend...