The other day I went to Paul “Mister Bass Man” Olguin’s house for his annual holiday party. Paul is one of my musician colleagues and is the only person I know who is half Scottish, half Cuban, which has resulted in a form of mild insanity. “Imagine my inner dialogues,” says Paul. Actually, I don’t have to imagine them, because Paul says pretty much everything he is thinking out loud, often into a microphone.
Come to think of it, every musician I know is a little bit crazy. But it isn’t musician lunacy that I want to discuss in this blog. It’s cat lunacy, and more specifically, Paul’s cat’s lunacy.
When I arrived at the party Paul was in the basement. Apparently he spends a lot of time down in the basement. This is because he’s a musician and he is down their being “creative.” As I headed downstairs to find Paul his wife Francesca said, “Just ignore the cat. It’s going to hiss at you and howl, but don’t worry. Just stay away from it, and whatever you do, don’t make eye contact.”
Sure enough, when I got downstairs there was this cute little grey cat with its back arched, howling, hissing, and spitting at me as I walked into the room. Apparently this is the way Paul’s cat acts all the time. Meanwhile, through a glass door I could see Paul’s dog in the backyard leaping up and down happily, his expressions saying “Hey! Hey! Come play with me!” You can imagine the misunderstandings that occur when Paul’s cat meets Paul’s dog. It’s kind of like the Scottish part of Paul’s brain meeting the Cuban part.
“He just wants to play,” said Paul, of the dog. “She just wants to kill him,” he added, referring to the cat. This describes many relationships.
Some people I know love their pets more than any human being. Busy people lavish time, attention, and money on their pets. For many pet owners the animal is a confidante, advisor, best friend, and child, all rolled into one.
Why do we do invest so much of ourselves in these animals? Because our pets love us and don’t criticize us (with the notable exception of Paul’s cat). Because they listen to us, or at least we think that is what they are doing. And in return we get a warm little throw pillow that nestles with us in our bed (again, Paul’s cat excepted) or a big sloppy kiss in the face from a dog who, if we are lucky, hasn’t just eaten a bunch of horse poop, not that I am thinking of my harmonica and piano student Dave Wingate's experience here. But even if the dog did just eat horse poop, we know he’s really happy to see us.