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The Cat That I Deserve

by Dr David, Publisher / Editor

The cat waits for me each morning, coming when I open the bedroom door, which I do immediately on waking. He then brushes up against me while I am seated in the bathroom "taking care of business."

He is always somewhat shy and usually downright skittish. He awkwardly accepts my attempts to pet him there, while he is making figure eights against my shins. He permits me to lightly rub his ears or scratch his head or stroke his body only for a few seconds at a time, before settling down just out of reach.

I finish my business, wash my hands and face and go off to the kitchen where he pounces upon the kibble I pour into his bowl. Cynically I say that our whole morning ritual is because he wants food. But I know that he wants affection also. He's just not very good at receiving it.

I keep the bedroom door closed because the cat, Felini, is not allowed on the bed, not at this time of year anyway.

He keeps himself fairly clean. Occasional he has a splotch of grime, from lurking under cars or who knows where, on his front shoulder where he can't groom himself. Then, of course, he somewhat concentrates and carries in his short hair the ubiquitous dust of Mexico. But after eight years in this high semi-desert, I've made peace with the dust. My standards of hygiene aren't so high.

Felini is banned from the bed at this season because of the pega-ropas ("stick to clothes"), the little velcro-like seed envelopes that plants and grasses produce to distribute their DNA. He picks them up hunting in the empty lot next door. As I say, he's pretty good about grooming himself. He does pull them off, but at his own pace. More than once, he's jumped up on the bed with a belly or tail full of those little green burrs, transferring quantities of them to my somewhat furry bed cover, where they stick ferociously.

Speaking of hygiene, as a doctor I observe that, people have their own strange concepts of cleanliness. Women who regularly deposit their bag on sidewalks and streets, and then want to put it on my dining-room table or kitchen counter are in for a rude surprise. In the urban environment, heavy metals are plentiful and a real threat. Then, there are the well-dressed, immaculately-scrubbed, beautiful people who I see smoking cigarettes. the irony of this makes me shake my head. Doing human dissection I've seen the lungs of smokers and they are disgustingly black.

I have my own hygienic faults. How much is nature to blame, how much is nurture, I am not sure, but certainly nurture had a role. I was never trained.

I remember infrequently (once a week) being placed in a bathtub with my brother where we played with our submarine and other toys. Dad supervised us, no doubt occasionally admonishing us to wash this or that part, but, never, as I recall, bending over and accomplishing the task himself. Mom washed our hair under the kitchen faucet, with even less frequency than we were bathed.

I remember Mom turning around in the front seat, inspecting us kids while we were on our way to some family gathering. I remember her wetting a Kleenex with her spittle and with it scrubbing dirt off my face. That's how much attention my cleanliness got. I remember being told to wash my neck because lines of dirt were showing in the creases thereof. They gave those a name, "ronis," because they resembled pieces of macaroni: "Go wash your ronis." The idea of washing inside or behind my ears didn't occur to me until I was in medical school. At a gym I saw a friend swabbing those areas with some pieces of toilet paper after a shower. I thought, "Brilliant!" I could go on, but you get the ideas.

In my own defense, while still I could shower more frequently, I am obsessive about avoiding exposure to toxic materials: pesticides, food colors and additives, chemicals in soap and shampoo, aluminum-based deodorants, room fresheners...

Recently I had another of my revelatory dreams. In it my father was making a mistake or doing something in an inefficient manner. In life he often used to do things in a half-ass, "good enough" way. We had a name for it, "Mickey Mousing" something.

When you had a mother like mine, you really looked towards your father. He got us up, made breakfast and brought us to school, He tucked us in at night. But there wasn't a whole lot in between. He never played with us. Never tossed or kicked a ball with us. He never played checkers or cards, and he liked to play cards with his friends. I remember him watching and commenting on my hand, but he never played, not with us. When I would lie next to him in front of the television, his diversion during commercial breaks was to poke and prod and make me squirm; you couldn't call it "tickling."

He was a good provider. He sent me to prep school, university and medical school. But he was never very affectionate. On the contrary, he liked to tease. One friend of mine said he was like W.C. Fields, a real wise-guy.

I told my daughter about the dream I had about Dad; that I felt I was seeing him in a truer light; that I felt like this was allowing me to be more efficient in my manner of doing things in the external world and accomplishing things in my emotional world.

My daughter didn't spend much time with her grandfather. And, at the best of times, he was never very forthcoming. When I told her about my dream and its import in my life, she told me that her mother had always presented him as a difficult person, far different from my idealized version.

He was a tough guy, like an actor from a Film Noir movie. "Cruel, but fair," is a phrase that comes to mind. He was brutally honest; completely intolerant of foolishness or incompetence, at least when they crossed his path. In a dispute with my adult sister over my influence in having Dad eject my adult (I use that term advisedly) brother from the house, I appealed to my mother. I asked Mom, "Have you ever known anyone who was ever able to convince Father to do anything that he didn't want to do?" Irritated as she was, on my brother's side in the matter, Mom responded, immediately and definitively, "No."

Veronica my girlfriend, from whom I inherited the cat, has more than once told me that he and I are very similar. We both grew up not cared for. Both of us have difficulty receiving affection, not quite trusting that caress. We are both a little savage, a little too on guard, too quick to extend our claws.

The universe may or may not give us what we want, but, in terms of personal development, it always gives us what we need. I wake from dreaming about my father to find the cat waiting at the bedroom door. I will try to be nicer to him and to myself.

**************

Dr. David: Today, November 17, 2019, the day this issue of this magazine finds its way to your inbox, is the 8th anniversary of my arrival in San Miguel de Allende. Those explosions that woke you up at 4 o'clock this morning were fireworks I set off to celebrate the occasion in true Mexican style.

Anyone with any interest in contributing articles is heartily encouraged to contact me at the email below. The "Best City in the World" deserves a good Lokkal magazine.

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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