It’s my birthday at the weekend. This is not really cause for celebration. I’m not totally delighted at the relentless march of time upon my person, I don’t like having to reconfigure my year of birth in order to maintain the steady fictitious age I have claimed for some years now (getting too decrepit to remember what that number is, anyway) and no matter how many times I explain to Husband that there are usually 365 days and sometimes more between each birthday, he is always caught off guard and says he hasn’t had time to have bought a present or organised an outing.
However, I do have one loyal admirer who chooses not to identify him/herself that faithfully sends me a large, expensive bottle of perfume each and every year, plus one at Christmas. It comes a few days early in a brown padded envelope with a printed label and is postmarked from central London with no return address. There is never a card and the only clue to its sender is that the scent is one I wore for about two years in 1997 so that narrows it down to about a gazillion people? Unfortunately I don’t really like it anymore – bound up with too many memories – so it’s a huge waste of money for my secret admirer and a bit of a useless gift for me, apart from the leverage in making Husband slightly jealous. I note, though, that it doesn’t always make him quite jealous enough to actually go out and buy me a giant gift IN TIME FOR MY BIRTHDAY HIMSELF.
This year’s parcel arrived today and I pulled it out from our mailbox while the children and I were on our way out for the morning. I ripped open the envelope and saw that there were not one, but two bottles inside this time.
“What’s that? What’s that?” Four demanded.
“It’s a present for me.”
“What is it? Who’s it from?!” she wanted to know
” It’s some perfume, from a secret admirer!” I said, “Isn’t that exciting”
“Wow, he must think you smell really bad.” she observed.
I told the children and myself that we were going to the garden shop to buy some plants, but despite my intentions to go there, the car actually drove itself to the cat shelter.
We have been cat-less since November and this has been very hard on me. I’ve been mulling over getting a new kitten since then, but haven’t really been sure whether it’s right to get a little one as I’m afraid One will squash it.
I said we were just looking. We’re not going to get a cat yet. We’re waiting for the right time.
As soon as we walked in to the cattery, though, I knew I was toast.
There they all were. Big ones, small ones, playful ones, quiet ones, fluffy ones, bony, old things with centuries’ wisdom in their eyes… Four immediately offered to take all of them home. One was so overcome he hid his face and whispered “kitty” in my ear several times. We took a tour, Four practically bursting with excitement.
Then we spotted him. A huge, portly, deep orange gentleman with crackle-glaze golden eyes rubbing his head frantically against the door of his cage. I immediately felt possessive and wanted to lift him out and cuddle him. What a fantastic specimen!
The lady from the shelter told us he was a very friendly, loving creature, good with children and other animals, not very confident (perhaps he needed to go on a course?) but he adored to be petted and stroked.
Did we want to take him into an ‘acquaintance room’? (What a strange term! Were we in a cat massage parlour?)
We got to hang out with ‘Rio’ (he dances in the sand) in a little room with a bench and a few toys to see how he would react to us. Wary at first, he soon warmed up and even let One cuddle him and purred away like an industrial sewing machine. His one drawback was that he was such a colossal fatso that it seemed unlikely that he would want to play a lot.
Mostly he looked fond of strokes and lunch.
My last two cats had not been much for chasing a ball of string in their later years, and I really wanted Four and One to have the joy of a young, playful cat. I discussed this with the shelter lady and she suggested we also meet at an adolescent black kitten who was going to be ready to adopt in a couple of days. We could look at her in her cage but not take her out and play with her until Thursday, why didn’t we come back again then?
That seemed a sensible proposition. Not as sensible as waiting to get a cat until after we come back from our ski holiday in March, but more sensible than taking all the cats home right then.
Since we’ve been home, despite my cautioning, Four has been talking non-stop about how we’re going to have a big fat orange cat and a little black one and I am actually starting to believe that we already own both of them. She’s even, inadvertently, renamed Rio “Burrito” (she misheard his name) which is perfect – he’s fat, orange and Californian, and I’m already conjuring names up for the little black kitten.
Now, though I’m having anxiety attacks that Burrito will be gone before Thursday. I may have to go back tomorrow morning and just get him. It’s not my birthday quite yet, but I think that both Burrito and I both deserve an early present.
Update: Husband has just come in and told me I should not get Burrito because it is too stupid to get a cat right before we go away – I’ll only be rescuing him from the shelter in order to abandon him again at a heartless cattery for seven days in a fortnight. I’m completely undone by this. If I don’t get him, someone else will. He’s MY CAT! But if I do get him, then I’m going to subjugate him and the other, unknown kitten, now called Marmite, to terrible abandonment trauma.