Years ago, Barack Obama cracked a joke that’s stayed with me. He said something like: “we all need somebody who keeps us hungry and humble – Michelle does that for me.”
I think about this often, the qualities of being hungry and humble, particularly after I’ve suffered some humiliation.
Yesterday morning, it snowed. On my walk to work, I could see the tracks of everyone who’d used the sidewalk, including a cat, which made me smile. They’re so little! They have such attitude!
On my way home, I thought about how much I like our cat: how funny she is, how endearing. She’s been crazy for treats lately – she keeps meowling at the pet food cupboard and scratching it, almost as though she thinks we’re going to forget to feed her. She’d actually wolfed her dinner down last night – usually it’s just the dog eating as though there’s no tomorrow. I thought the site of her eating fast was so funny: ha, ha, ha.
After we’d all finished dinner and were settling in to watch a movie, M walks into the bedroom. He cried: “Oh God – gross.”
Because there was a big pile of puke on our bed.
That’s right. The day after I’d washed the bedding.
The No. 1 suspect?:
M and I did what any self-respecting cat
owners custodians would do: wracked our brains to see what she was angry with us about. She’s never done that to our bed before – and, if you know cats, you know they don’t accidentally do anything.
Was she mad because I’d accidentally stepped on her paw the other night when she was rubbing herself against my legs? Was she mad because M hadn’t served her fresh mackerel when he’d prepared her food the night before? Was she mad because we hadn’t given her as many treats on Sunday as we had on Friday?
I found myself wondering if she’d purposefully eaten her meal fast to make herself sick, just so she could teach us a lesson. Which she probably did. She only weighs about 5lbs, but she can be 5lbs of pure spite!
Then I realized: if you have a cat, you have someone who keeps you humble. Someone who reminds you, just when you start to act a little too indulgent: you exist to serve them, not the other way around.