I’m taking care of an 11 year old cat named Peanut. Peanut belongs to the owner of Dead Sea Pavillion, a business two doors down from us that sells mineral salts and aroma wash and other spa products. I like Dead Sea Pavillion. I like that our hall always smells like mango melon shea butter and that I can moisturize for free.
I agreed to take Peanut not knowing she hadn’t left the Dead Sea in 3 years. Her owner was going on a business trip to Tel Aviv to get more salt or something, and on the scheduled transfer day, Peanut wigged out. In the car she flipped her carrying basket, hunched up on the dashboard, and growled at me like a cougar. I screamed, flailed my arms, and nose-dove for the backseat.
This was the beginning of my relationship with Peanut.
Peanut’s main problem, as I’ve come to see it afer the last few days, is that she forgets she has a tail. She’ll be snuggling in my lap or licking my hand and then she’ll get excited and flick her tail. When she catches sight of this moving tail, which in Peanut’s mind does not belong to her, she raises up on her haunches and spins and swats and hisses. She experiences a real disconnect. She looks at her tail the way Kat-ie Holmes looked at her Oscars dress:
“Are these my ruffles?”
Woody and I try to explain to Peanut, in the condescending tone we reserve for animals and children and old people, that she is sole controller. It doesn’t work and this is awfully annoying at 7AM. Also, poor Peanut! How scary, to periodically forget that your body belongs to you. Sometimes I am unpleasantly reminded of my thighs but I wise up soon enough, and I certainly never swat at them. Unless I’m drunk.
Peanut has got me thinking about idiosyncrasies and outright looniness. I’m sure I have my equivalent of chasing tail. Sometimes I count stairs or imagine the days of the week as a color wheel—Monday, of course, being red. I wrote a poem about it for my thesis.
One, two, buckle my shoe.
Three, four, buckle my shoe.
Who isn’t slightly Pea-nutty? I just spoke to a father from Ohio who wanted to enroll his daughter in our all-girls program in upstate NY. He started telling me about Iron Maiden, the self-defense camp she attended last year. Iron Maiden pairs teenage girls with jeuvenille delinquint boys from Lansing, Michigan, and– with sensei supervision–encorages these young girls to pummel the delinquints unconscious. The juvies, in exchange for broken ribs, receive a reduced sentence. Here’s a direct quote from the father:
“You see it on TV, you think it’s just Hollywood. It’s not. After the boys fall to the ground a sensei touches their pressure points so they don’t suffer. I didn’t want my daughter hearing them ask for water or beg for mercy. OK. So how much is your summer camp?”
It reminds me of Anne Hathoway!