By Booger & Bubba


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          We have a new kitten! Yes – that’s right – we have a new kitten. No one asked us if we require a new kitten. We overheard Mum and Old Muldoon discussing it week before last – that Mum had taken Bubba and Ace to see Dr. Martin, and while there saw a very sweet looking eight weeks old kitten, so cute and sweet that she instructed the staff not to tell Old Muldoon that they had a new kitten for which they were seeking a proper home. What with Mum’s birthday coming up in a week, Old Muldoon might start getting ideas about what a nice present to give Mum a cute new kitten for her birthday. And don’t you know, she then came home and told Old Muldoon all about it herself, making him promise that he would not arrange for it to become her new kitten. She even admonished him that she had told Ms Tabitha, Dr. Martin’s manager, that the kitty was not to be placed here, no matter what, and that he shouldn’t waste his time trying to arrange any surprise kitten for her birthday. Muldoon, of course, obedient soul that he always is, told her that he would certainly obey her instructions and would not get her the kitten for her birthday or, for that matter, any other reason or excuse. Mum then took off on a business trip of several days, leaving him “in charge”. Good help is so hard to find these days.

          Mum left Old Muldoon the customary two page list of written instructions concerning the performance of his duties in her absence, complete in every detail, right own to enumeration of the locations of every cat’s water bowl that was to be refreshed twice daily, medications to be administered to this or that cat, including when, cat boxes to be cleaned twice daily and refreshed with cat litter if depleted, feeding instructions and the telephone numbers of every resource that could possibly be needed if there were to be some feline emergency. Among the written instructions, however, there was no order not to adopt a new kitten. This created an ambiguity between the verbal instructions and the written instructions, calling upon Old Muldoon to use his discretion in interpreting his assignments. Did the absence of the prohibition against kitten adoption in the written instructions mean that the verbal prohibition had been rescinded? This is how Old Muldoon’s mind works, you know. Of course, he could have called her hotel and requested clarification, but that option was rejected out of hand for fear that he might be thought incompetent to deal with simple instructions when they had been given to him in writing. Such humiliation was not to be invited by calling for clarification. He could read, you know. He went to school. He ought to be able to be counted upon to do what he is told without constant calling for clarification of this or that issue, especially when Mum had important business matters to deal with on her trip.

          Then too, he recalled specifically that she had admonished him not to get a kitten for her, saying nothing about the prospect of obtaining a kitten that would be his. And more to the point, surely, once she saw the kitten at home having a grand time in its new family surroundings, future comforts assured, she would come round and take the dear thing into her heart just as she did with every other feline that ever showed up seeking attention. And so, what might not be true today could very well be quite true in a week. It was unthinkable that she could spend a week around a very sweet kitten without falling in love with it.

          Thus had Old Muldoon accounted for every possible contingency, and picked up the telephone the very morning after Mum had left on her trip, calling to inquire about the poor orphaned kitten and asking if it would be convenient for him to drop round and see what she looked like. Not wishing to be inhospitable, but ever mindful of Mum’s admonition against promoting the new kitty to Old Muldoon, Ms Tabitha told Old Muldoon that he could drop by at any time of his convenience that day.

          Immediately upon his arrival at Dr. Martin’s office he could sense the tension in the air. While he got along well enough with Dr. Martin and his staff, it was Mum who is the real client there, not him. They are polite to him because of their relationship with Mum. There is the most gregarious puppy by the name of Baker who greets all and sundry who stop by, and Old Muldoon occupied himself in the main with Baker, awaiting the sorting out of how this awkward visit would be handled. Notified that Old Muldoon was on the premises to see the new kitten, Dr. Martin interrupted whatever it was that he was doing to come out front and see that the visit was handled in proper fashion. Ms. Tabitha, having seen Old Muldoon exit his car out front, had notified Dr. Martin of his arrival and gone to fetch the kitten. She and the kitty and Dr. Martin all appeared in echelon to give Old Muldoon the gruss and show him the kitten.

          The kitten was simply handed to Old Muldoon in the hope that the chemistry between them would be hostile, thus ending the occasion without concern over Mum’s being upset about the visit when she heard about it or Old Muldoon having his large nose out of joint over some perceived snub. But it didn’t work out that way. The kitten immediately started to purr and to cuddle into Old Muldoon’s chest, apparently a first, for Ms Tabitha said that the kitten had hissed at everyone to whom she had previously been presented. Old Muldoon didn’t know whether to take that statement seriously or to ignore it as simply a sales pitch to get the kitty placed and out of the office, no matter the consequences.

          Everyone remarked about how the kitten took to Old Muldoon, and he chided them for their failure to expect that affection would be the natural reaction of any creature, especially a female one, upon encountering a large and charming Irishman. Ms Tabitha told him that Dr. Martin had tested the kitten for every conceivable disorder and had found her to be absolutely free of any defect or disease, and that Dr. Martin intended to see to it that the kitten had all its shots and immunizations before it left the office. Sly fox that he is, Dr. Martin would never risk a kitten coming to Mum’s house and passing along some germ to Mum’s other cats. So in that manner, should the kitten be adopted by us, Mum would at least be mollified by the knowledge that she was the recipient of hundreds of dollars of diagnostic testing and immunizations, gratis – a significant bargaining chip, to be sure, but with a shrewd eye upon the future revenues associated with Mum’s standard practice of sparing no expense when it comes to feline health maintenance. He had already figured out that he would break even on all this valuable vet service within the first eighteen months, and that everything after that for the rest of the cat’s life would be profitable. Old Muldoon has for some years been kidding Dr. Martin about how great a marketing tool it would be to present a new kitten to all who had experienced the loss of a beloved cat, after a suitable period of mourning, to be sure.

          There ensued a conversation between Old Muldoon and Ms Tabitha in which she explained to him that Mum had very explicitly admonished her against sending this cat home with him or even discussing the fact that there was a cat available in the first place. In response, Old Muldoon told her that it was Mum herself who had informed him of the kitten and how preciously cute she was, admonishing him as well not to bring her home. He went on to explain that he and Mum had had a rather significant follow on discussion about it, expressing the notion that perhaps Booger and Bubba would appreciate a new sister, having missed Old Miss Vickie who passed away earlier this year, and that Booger’s sometime less than cordial behavior toward other cats would mellow in a very short time once a new kitten had moved in. Mum still expressed negative feelings about it all, and Old Muldoon, charming Irish devil that he is, suggested that the new kitten should be named Sweetie Pie, which caused Mum to smile broadly, whereupon Old Muldoon knew that he had prevailed this day. To make a long story short, Old Muldoon gave Ms Tabitha the idea that the entire prospect of adoption was acceptable to Mum, notwithstanding her earlier instructions.

          Everything that Old Muldoon told Ms Tabitha was true – it may not have all been true on that day, but it was to become true bye and bye. He is as much a believer in the future truth as he is of the current truth.

          The deal was made then and there, and Old Muldoon went straight away to Pet Smart to buy a new litter box for the new kitty that would be coming home in a few days. None of this plotting and scheming was told to Mum when she called in from her trip each day to check up on how everything was going in her absence.

          On the morning of the day of Mum’s return, Old Muldoon picked up Sweetie Pie, noting the apprehensive looks exchanged by Dr. Martin and Ms Tabitha. Sweetie Pie spent the entire day with us, during which she remained essentially with Old Muldoon who was neglecting his duties in favor of spreading his dirty clothes around for Sweetie Pie to “experience”. According to Old Muldoon, this technique is known as “imprinting” – by exposing Sweetie Pie to his recently worn clothing, he was imprinting his DNA, and she would thereafter regard him as the person most closely associated with her “home bonding”. Now we know he made this story up out of whole cloth and that cats have no conscious sense of the presence of anyone’s DNA, although we certainly know what people and their clothing smell like, - and Old Muldoon’s clothes always smell like food because he’s a chef - but it worked. Sweetie Pie immediately came to regard Old Muldoon as her personal property, and seeks him out constantly as some sort of “parent” figure. She plays a game with him that she calls Attack The Beast, in which she jumps on his hands and feet, biting and pawing. After a few days his hands and forearms were full of bite and scratch marks, but he pretended not to notice.

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          To be sure, Old Muldoon had another mischievous scheme in mind – maybe several for all we know – by using his imprinting technique. Knowing how his devious mind works, one might posit that by this device he could claim that he had not adopted the cat for Mum in violation of her instructions, but rather that he had adopted the cat to be his own pet, being jealous of how we are always seeking out Mum for affection and emotional bonding. The man is a devil. One might also posit that he intended to play upon Mum’s sense of mercy and generosity, in that, seeing how Old Muldoon and Sweetie Pie had bonded immediately, she would never ever consider sending Sweetie Pie back and depriving him of his only pet in the entire world.

          At day’s end he called Ms Tabitha to give her a glowing report about how wonderful everything was with Sweetie Pie. Another future truth, no doubt, as there was still quite a way to go in the accommodation of Sweetie Pie by the two of us. Bubba, lacking in self respect, allowed himself to become captivated by Sweetie Pie almost immediately, and became her big brother and friend. Booger, holding himself in the highest esteem, decided to give Sweetie Pie a few days to “earn” her way into his good graces, and would alternately ignore her or hiss at her.

          Old Muldoon went to the airport to fetch Mum later in the evening, and told her nothing of Sweetie Pie during the ride home. When she had unpacked her luggage and was just starting to relax and enjoy being back home, Old Muldoon came into the room with Sweetie Pie cuddled to his chest. Mum was not amused.

          One might be tempted to assume that Mum was incapable of expressing dissatisfaction, as she has such perfect people skills that it is almost impossible to tell that she is not thrilled about every aspect of her relationships with all and sundry. It was once said that she told someone to go to hell so nicely that the poor man actually was looking forward to the trip. But at this moment, sensing that disobedience had crept into her relationship with Old Muldoon, and being tired from the long trip, there was a certain, almost indescribable look of “how dare you”. But then, seeing that lovely kitten that had so impressed her a week before at Dr. Martin’s, she regained control and changed the subject from insubordination to appreciation. Sweetie Pie was quickly removed from the awkward scene and returned to Old Muldoon’s room in the back of the house, and Mum went about getting ready to retire for the evening.

          Next morning, rested, Mum was able to appreciate the situation in her more cat loving mode, and remarked not only upon how precious Sweetie Pie really is, but also upon how amusing it was that she followed Old Muldoon around everywhere he went.

          Later that morning, Ms Tabitha called ostensibly to inquire about Sweetie Pie, but Old Muldoon knew from here tone and the vibes he received over the phone that the call was probably as much about Ms Tabitha’s concern that she had been bamboozled by Old Muldoon into doing something that might get her cross ways with Mum. Ignoring the subliminal but obvious undertone, Old Muldoon gave her a glowing report about how everything was going – another future truth. He later told Mum of the call, and Mum called Ms Tabitha back to assure her that all was well, during which call Mum was informed that Ms Tabitha felt that she had been taken advantage of by Old Muldoon’s manner of discussing the rectitude of this adoption, and was concerned to inform Mum that if there were any reservations, she stood ready to accept the return of Sweetie Pie. Mum told her that she was certainly not the first young lady to whom Old Muldoon had told whoppers, counting upon his notion of expressions of future truth being perfectly acceptable as some lawyer’s form of honesty. Ms Tabitha was relieved, but when Mum told Old Muldoon of the conversation, he was given to understand that his taking undue advantage was something for which he would be expected to make serious amends to Ms Tabitha.

          Thus were the circumstances of the adoption of Sweetie Pie laid to rest, and thenceforth there ensued the delightful process of getting used to having a very young and energetic kitten in the house. It is now one week later, and it is perfectly clear that Sweetie Pie owns Old Muldoon outright. Lincoln may have freed some slaves, but not Old Muldoon. Mum adores her, and there is no possibility of any difficulty on that front.


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