Some people bring sunshine when they enter a room; others, you might say, turn off the lights. Personally my moods don't swing very much; those of my friend Jack on the other hand can range, so to speak, from frostbite to sunburn.
"Good morning," I greeted Jack as we settled down on one of the half-dozen two-seaters in the Bayshore food court. This was a few weeks ago.
"What's good about it?" said Jack. I realized that I hadn't caught him at a good time.
I said "Jack, when someone says 'good morning', he's not giving you a weather report or a time check; he's simply wishing you a good morning. And it seems to me you need one."
A dismissive grunt was Jack's reply.
So I asked him: "What's bothering you?"
"One of my neighbours," said Jack. "Actually his cat."
"What's the matter with his cat?" I asked.
"The damn animal shits all over what little garden I have. Every time I work my vegetable patch, and don't look carefully, I wind up with wet kittypoo on my hands. Why do cats leave kinda watery calling cards; not like dogs -- they usually leave hard ones."
I've run into that problem myself, so I could sympathize.
I said: "Why don't you get some cat repellent from Canadian Tire?"
"I tried that," said Jack, but every time it rains it flushes away. And that makes it too damn expensive."
"How about one of those motion-activated sprayers? Cats don't like to get wet."
"You know, it's not only cats that move in my garden; a lot of birds too, and all together they'd have that machine spraying all day long. And at the price of water these days ..." Jack shook his head as he considered the price of water. Then he continued: "You know what gets my goat? Cats are very neat; they don't like to shit in their own backyard. So they wander over to their neighbours' yards to do their kitty crap. Any time someone lets out his cat, he's really telling his neighbours "Surprise! My cat is going to shit all over your yard. Lucky you!"
I said: "Have you tried talking to the cat's owner?"
"No," said Jack. "No use; he's an ignoranus."
I said "You mean ignoramus."
"No," said Jack, "Ignoranus. He's an ignorant asshole."
I said: "So what are you going to do if you don't want to talk to him?"
Jack said: "What CAN I do?"
I said: "The way I see it you have two options now: live with the situation, or do something about it."
"Like what?" Jack asked.
I said "Give him a dose of his own medicine." There was a pause.
"Good suggestion, you've given me an idea" said Jack with a gleam in his eye and a thoughtful scrunch on his face.
As I said, this was a few weeks ago.
This morning I had lunch with Jack who had a big smile on his face.
"What's with the big smile on your face?" I asked him.
He said "You were right with your suggestion about my cat problem."
I said "So what did you do?"
Jack said "I went to the Humane Society off Carling, and I told the lady there I wanted to adopt ten cats. She probably thought I was going to open up a Chinese restaurant. It took a while before I convinced her I would take good care of them."
"So what happened?" I said.
"I took them home, and kept them in the house for three days to get them acclimatized. Then I let them out. Next thing you know they were over in the neighbour's yard doing a little spontaneous fertilizing. When the neighbour wanted to let HIS cat out, the animal didn't dare leave the house on account of all my cats hanging around ready to start a cat fight."
"I did that for a couple of days," continued Jack, and then my neighbour capitulated; came over to ask if I could please keep my cats on my side of the hedge. I said 'sure, as long as you keep your cat on your side.' And so far I've had no problems. He's put his cat on a little leash."
I said "Yes, but what are you going to do with your ten cats?"
"Oh," said Jack, "they're back at the Humane Society. The lady didn't want them back, of course. I told her she could always sell them to a Chinese restaurant. She didn't think that was funny. I said, if she didn't take them off my hands, I was going to sell them to a Chinese restaurant. And that did the trick. Thanks for the suggestion. Lunch is on me.
Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.
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