Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Only a Potential

So, a few days after Nick and I visited the kittens, Mike finally agreed that we could perhaps bring one home. Maybe.

Then, after dinner, during commercials, we had a vigorous discussion of names. One name was rejected because of a mean kid at school.

"He has an 'M' on his head in his stripes. What about Memphis?" I sat in my recliner petting Seth. Eleven years ago, Nick had named Seth after a cat in a book who had saved his owners lives by showing them a gas leak. Seriously.

"Mom, that's ridiculous! You'd name him after a city?" Nick was on one end of the couch with the dog's blanket pulled up over him. At some point, all the blankets became the dog's blanket.

"What about Merlin?" I said.

 "I'm not nine years old."

"Well, what then?" Mike hadn't added a thing to the conversation. He sat on the other end of the couch with his computer in his lap. Was he even ready for this, a kitten who would chew, make noise at night, break things, upset the balance with Teddy and Seth?

"I like my names to come from something meaningful to me. What about Blitz?"

"He's pretty shy so far. I didn't see him tearing anything up, not even when we looked in on him before the humans came into the room."

"Maybe that's a good thing," Mike murmured.

"Jager then? It's German for 'hunter.'"

"How would you spell it?"

"Like the German word, with a 'J'.'

"And people would call him Jagger and think he's named after the Rolling Stones."

"Only people at the vet clinic would ever see the spelling. What difference does it make?" Mike piped in.

And the commercial break was over, thus the conversation was closed, for now.

The next day on a whim, I went back to the clinic and asked to visit them again. Nick said he was too tired to go. Did he really want this?

When I arrived, they all grinned, handed me my kitty and escorted me into a room to sit with him. I sat down on the floor and let him go. He skittered into a corner. Someone came in to see how I was doing and caught him again and put him into my lap. I told her that he looked pretty wild. I asked if they'd bring me the rest of the kittens so I could see him with the others, so he'd relax.

And then there were five kittens, a blanket, a few toys, and me in a room. The cuteness was overwhelming.

I was in heaven. Ritz, the one they told me had nearly died, played with everything. He had a big belly with dots on it. I batted a ball toward him and he batted it back. Eventually, I got him to come over by making my finger disappear around the corner of my jeans. Vincent, the smallest one, came and quietly sat on my shin while Ritz played. He didn't seem to mind when I gathered him up and put him into my zippered jacket. He snuggled in and let me pet him.

The other three, including our Blitz/Jager, huddled in a corner glaring at me at first. At least they looked terrified. Eventually, they played a little with balls I rolled in their direction. They didn't come close, but they climbed on the bars of the doctor's stool and played king of the mountain on a tiny shelf beneath a table. The white kitten grabbed Bone's tail. Blitz/Jager mostly stayed withing paw's reach of the other two, across the room from me.

I sat and watched my kitty. Technicians came and went, easily picked up the friendlier of the kittens, chased and cornered Blitz/Jager to put him into my lap a couple of times where he shivered until I let him go. I didn't intend to make him stay on my lap. The worst nightmare I could imagine would be to be picked up and held by someone's without being allowed to get away. Each time he jumped off my lap, he looked back as if some monster had decided he wasn't hungry. Then, he rejoined his brothers and sister in the corner.

If this kept up, he might be a hard sell for Mike. I've noticed that Mike likes any animal who likes him back. Beyond that, it's pretty simple. He once gave honey-covered hazelnuts to a friendly squirrel at our apartment complex.  Seymour, he named him. Mike loved Seymour. Mike kept working with Seymour until he would leap onto his legs whenever he left the apartment and climb up and cling to a belt for a treat. I usually threw the nuts at Seymour from a distance, but he was a pretty smart cookie.

Do you remember when women wore skirts and pantyhose to work? Yeah that. The morning Seymour climbed my pantyhose inside my skirt and got tangled, I put a quick end to that kind of training. Picture a woman in heels screaming and running down the sidewalk, slapping her thighs, and lifting her skirt while a sad but well-trained little squirrel clung to her hem.

But would Blitz/Jager warm up to Mike? What if he never did? What if he stayed sort of wild forever? What if he didn't like me or Nick either? What would we do?

I stayed too long that day, petted and played with the friendly kittens, watched Blitz/Jager in the corner and wished I could change my mind and adopt one of the others instead. Had the friendly ones already been claimed? I felt a stab of remorse at the thought. 

When I finally left that room and they took my picture with Blitz/Jager, I asked them to use the word potential when they posted my picture on Facebook.

Thank you for listening, jb

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