Good ole’ Merriam-Webster defines prejudice as: “(1): preconceived judgment or opinion. (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.““Prejudice.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice.
Prejudice often manifests itself from stereotypes formed from family beliefs, specific interactions or general dislikes. These feelings go beyond the more publicized race, gender, sexual-orientation, religion or political beliefs. Prejudices are revealed in so many of life’s challenges ~ the food we eat, the cars we drive and even the animals (or not) that we choose as pets.
That is where this story begins…
Growing up we had fish… in a tank. We named them – creative names like Angel, Goldie and even Spot. No matter how smelly the dried up miniature treats, our bribery efforts to train them was futile.
Every other-month, after my mom cleaned the tank, we would extricate a new batch from the pet store’s water filled ziplock bag into our Kmart plexiglass pond. The result was always the same. Their connate ability to breathe underwater was like a second sense! They quickly mastered swimming from one end of the tank to the other. They could swim for miles in that little aquarium never coming up for air! All that talent and still their scaly colors were the only bright thing about them.
We also had a cat… for like a minute.
This, not so nice, scrounge – a feral beast, my mom found in the alley behind our house (most likely in the Burger King dumpster) – would have undoubtedly planned our demise if given the opportunity. The kitty was thankfully not around long enough to plan murderous accidents nor for his or her gender to be determined. Ergo, no proper name was given. At least not one I recall. So let us just refer to this four-legged demon with a tail as Cat.
Cat was a pet for just a few weeks give or take. The ‘take’ defined as my dad taking it upon himself to rehome Cat to a better place… several times. No, no harm came to this ferocious beast! A miracle in itself as my brothers enjoyed treating most things with appendages as if they were a combination of crash test dummies and stretch armstrong. My fearless siblings, like everyone else who came in contact with this mad Cat, were terrified of the vicious lap-monster and peeked around corners in attempts to avoid the shedding brute at all costs.
Cat was not a “normal” cat. THAT animal was more like the mystery of the Beast of Gévaudan and I am fairly certain just as evil. No matter how often anyone attempted to avoid or misplace that neurotic feline, Cat inevitably returned.
The first rehoming occurred one evening in the middle of the night. Cat was treated to a ride. A trip to an out of the way kind of place more suitable for such a wild critter. This remote location was short-lived as my mom feigned heart-brokenness over the absence of the animated razor blade. Unbeknownst to her offspring, our mother probably threatened to stuff and mount our father if he did not track down and bring home that dastardly sneaky pawed creature.
When they returned with that devil in tow, our basement became its evil lair and one of the most terrifying places in our house. No one, including my mom, wanted to empty the dryer in fear the wicked fiend was lurking in the shadows to claw us to death or worse!
During Cat’s stay, Ben (bless his heart) came to grace us with his brief existence. Although, his visit was very short-lived. Ben, named after the movie, was a teddy-bear of a hamster…. get where this is going?
For some reason long forgotten, Ben was put down there in the dank dark crypt with that killer, Cat. I am not quite sure what fleeting thought passed through his pea-sized cranium. Based on the sad scene, Ben obviously envisioned himself bigger than his more realistic fun meal size. He pulled a Houdini escaping his well-protected but not very secure cage. Little Ben almost made it up all twelve stairs… almost.
When we found him, the pygmied-sized rat was clinging to the third step. My brothers sang MJ’s version of Ben for days. Their rendition definitely pushed me to moments of considering self-sacrifice to Cat! Have you EVER heard hyenas howling at the moon?!?
I do not recall what became of Cat. Surely, my brothers and I were intentional accomplices to the absconding or possibly my father secretly introduced the beast to the other side of the road, three counties over. More likely, the atrocious barbaric is still terrorizing my childhood nabe, threatening some unlikely senior citizen for canned tuna and fresh milk.
For years thoughts of Cat plagued me. Werewolves and vampires, hell even Tasmanian devils would be pussycats compared to that wickedly wild ripper with paws! Cat’s jaws of steel and retractable shivs made the scariest of hobgoblins and everything bogey. Thus, my prejudices began.
A lot of time was spent insisting I was not a cat person. Terrified all furry felines were like Cat and convinced if given the slightest chance the warped felines would slice off very needed body parts. Without a single doubt, I knew all things felines were quadrupedal terrorists incognito.
How disillusioned we become as an adult as this cat story does not end here…
More to come in The Cat-troversy… A Cat Story Sequel.
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