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Copyright 1999-2015 by crazyforKITTIES (SM) Privacy



 

Boris on My Side
July 1, 2006

By Gary Michael Smith

Boris arrived as a baby boy kitty way back in 1989. He was a Louisiana SPCA stray that the staff just couldn't put to sleep because of his terminal cuteness and sweet personality. One customer even stopped in once to say he'd be back to pick up this beautiful Chatreaux, but he never returned. His loss, because I got him and raised him as my own for the next 16 years.

Boris
Boris Snoozing

Boris came with brains as well as looks. Once, during a fitful Saturday afternoon nap that had me tossing and turning, I was awakened by five sharp prongs in knee. Looking down to my feet where Boris liked to sleep I found him staring at me wide-eyed, with one paw on my knee. Once he saw that I was now awake from my nightmare, he gently retracted his claws from my leg. It was his way of shaking me to wake up.

On another occasion, he helped us discover the true feelings of a housekeeper Brenda and I had recently hired. We were living on the world-famous Magazine Street in a beautiful Victorian fourplex. Like many New Orleans structures, it was a shotgun style, whereby the design was a straight walk-through from the front door to the back. As such, space had to be designed just so to enable the best configuration.

At this time, my "office" comprised a corner of the dining room. My bookcase was the mantle of a long-since closed fireplace. (Since New Orleans is a couple of centuries old, most structures consist of wood-frame buildings, many of which have fireplaces -- a bad combination and one that contributed to several city-wide devastating fires many years ago and which is why fireplaces are nonfunctioning and why we are strongly discourage from using them within the city limits.)

So back to the bookshelf/fireplace mantle. My books were within my reach of my little hovel of a writing space, and I had to tell the housekeeper to not move my references to the other mantle, which, although had more room on it, was across the room and not convenient for me. Yet, for some reason, "Hazel" felt it was her duty to redecorate the part of our house twice a month. And each time after she left and Brenda and I returned home from work, we'd have to put everything back in its place and leave a note for her next visit to "Please leave items where they are or put them back after cleaning the area."

She persisted, however, and we knew she wasn't long for this job. We just felt bad about firing someone for such a seemingly trivial offense, even though her cleaning prowess also had been lacking. But it was Boris who helped us discover her true feelings.

New Orleans has mind-alteringly hot summers. It's not uncommon to have temperatures in the upper nineties with the humidity at the same numbers. And while I worship few things in this world, air conditioning is one of them. Boris felt the same. Frequently, he would jump up on my filing cabinet and perch next to the telephone answering machine so his face would catch the full force of the air conditioning window unit. And this is how he helped us with our housekeeper decision.

We came home from work one evening to discover the message light on the answering machine flashing. It wasn't really a message, though, but a recording. When we played it, we could hear that snippet of time earlier in the day: the droning of the AC, voices from the soap opera on the TV in the other room, the sound of footsteps and humming. We realized that it was our housekeeping going about her chores. But why the recording? Apparently, Boris had jumped on the filing cabinet for his afternoon dose of cool air and had accidentally stepped on the record button on the answering machine. So the tape spun away, unbeknownst to our housekeeper. We heard her walking from room to room, which, in this house was a straight shot. We could even tell by the footsteps exactly where she was. As Brenda and I listened, amused, at Boris' recording, we'd say, "Sounds like The Young and the Restless in the background. Here she comes into the dining room." Then we heard her walking toward the answering machine, which was next to my desk, next to the mantle with my books.

Then it happened -- we heard a pause, guessing she noticed that we'd put the books back from the mantle she had moved them to on her last visit. The next thing we heard was her response to our own redecorating. With this realization, she exclaimed, "Bitch!"

We looked at each other, slack-jawed. We rewound the tape and listened again. And again. And again. Like crime scene investigators, we tried to determine her exact position, direction, and state of mind. Yep, she was standing by the AC unit and answering machine, facing the mantle, and was perturbed. Our decision about her employment status was now much easier, and we gave Boris some well-deserved and much coveted cheese.

gray cat
Smart Boris!

Gary Michael Smith is a writer in New Orleans. He can be reached at
gsmith@data sync.com.