Our cat missed her curfew last night. Again. She’s normally inside by the time we go to bed, but these balmy summer evenings are the call of the kitty-wild to Dear Pussy (not her real name).
Wifey and I tried and tried to call her in, but she ignored our coaxing. Maybe you heard us — or some other equally desperate cat owner — stage-whisper hissing out into the darkness, “Psss psss psss, kitty kitty kitty, psss psss psss!”
Wifey, who has to get up earlier than I do, gave up and went to bed. I was too worried.
Big raccoons nest in the spruce tree behind our house, and a raccoon could easily shred a little cat. What if Dear Pussy tried to cross the street? Late-night speeders might, at best, be looking out for cop cars, but are not likely scanning the road for black and whites of a much smaller scale.
I pushed the screen door open and tried again, psss-psss-psssing for all I was worth. Nothing. At least no snarling raccoons. Or screeching tires. Or worse. If I was going to wait up for Dear Pussy, I’d need some distraction. I switched on the late edition of The Rachel Maddow Show. My favorite commentator’s brilliant news analysis might at least ward off dire imaginings of feline catastrophe.
Rachel recounted how President Obama has yet to overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or undo the Defense of Marriage Act. Is he straying too far from his campaign promises? How many Obama supporters does it take to coax him back to what he pledged to the LGBT community? Are my president and my cat beyond retrieval? Do I have enough audacity of hope?
Eventually, Rachel, in all her Rhodes Scholar dykey handsomeness, bid me goodnight. I clicked off the TV and barefooted onto the back deck. “Psss-psss-psss, kitty kitty kitty, psss-psss-psss.”
At last, Dear Pussy came prancing up the back steps as if it had just occurred to her that she’d prefer to spend the night in the comfort and safety of her own home with the people who pet her and groom her, buy expensive organic kibble and pay the vet bills; and where she has access to fresh water, scratching pads and, even better for claw sharpening, our furniture. Not that I’m resentful. She trotted right past me as if there’d been nothing to worry about, scampered through the door and curled up on our cushy sofa (AKA the homosectional).
I stayed outside a little longer. A shimmering moon rose over the rooftops. The warm night air soft on my skin, I breathed in the perfume of blooming jasmine, nicotiana and heliotrope — along with the wafting aroma of a neighbor’s midnight toke.
Silence. No summer mowers, blowers, roofers or street-repair noise. The night was utterly quiet — all except for the soft rasp of a distant train whistle, and some other poor shmo calling, “Heeeeeeeeere kittykittykittykitty!” into the night.
Award-winning writer Sally Sheklow stays up past her bedtime in Eugene, Oregon.