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Tuesday, July 30, 43 A.B.
 

Never Teach A Cat To Read
 
 

As I recently mentioned, I've been reading Simon Winchester's The Map That Changed The World to my cat, Jester.  Well, apparently I wasn't reading it fast enough to him because today I caught him curled up on the couch with it - obviously reading ahead.

Hey, Jess - what's the deal?  I thought we were reading that together!

"Never mind about that," he told me in his best Judge Judy tone of grunt.  "Why have you been editing things out?"

Ummm - editing things out?

"I direct your attention to page 19.  Winchester says that farming underwent a revolution in the late 1700s when new breeds of cattle and sheep were added to newly made meadows.  Then he says - and I quote - 'Well-to-do farmers were so proud of their new beasts that they had paintings of them commissioned, and by doing so founded an entirely new artistic school of domestic animal portraiture.'  Funny - I don't remember YOU mentioning that."

Are you sure it doesn't say "breasts"?  I think it says "breasts" and I was merely trying to protect you from gratuitous pornographic imagery when I skipped over that part.

"It says BEASTS.  If well-to-do farmers had been proud of their new breasts, how could THAT have possibly inspired an entirely new school of domestic animal portraiture?!"

I don't know...  You get implants, your social life picks up, you feel giddy, you sit down and paint a moo-cow just because you can?  I don't know - I've never had new breasts, and I've especially never had them in the late 1700s.

"Uh-huh.  I see what's going on here.  Even stupid farmers hundreds of years ago cared enough about the non-humans in their family to have their portraits commissioned and YOU have never even asked a carnival artist to sketch my caricature for a lousy five bucks!  And then you skip over sections like this so I won't even know what the score is.  Well, I KNOW what the score is, ok?  I KNOW!"

Could we not talk about this right now?  I'd like to have a moment of silence in memory of all those poor old farmers who had to go through their entire lives with the same old breasts.

"And then there's THIS on page 21 - just a second, lemme find it...  Here!  'Indispensables'!  You've NEVER gotten me a single indispensable in all the time you've known me!"

Whatever are you talking about, my dear puss?

"Only THIS: 'Ladies in Liverpool, Manchester, and Edinburgh were starting to supplement their inelegant skirt pockets by carrying with them what they would call "indispensables," which would be later called handbags.'  You ain't NEVER gotten me an indispensable, a handbag, a pocketbook, a clutch, a purse - whatever the hell you care to call it these days, I want one and I want one NOW!  Or at least an inelegant skirt pocket.  Your choice."

Jester, come on - what do you need a pocket or a purse for?

"Stuff."

Stuff?  What stuff?

"You know - cat stuff.  Tidbits.  My copy of 'Prey For Dummies.'   Emergency catnip freshener for that just licked feeling.  Sanitary litter."

Sanitary litter??

"Sure.  You just never know where those kids in the sandbox may have been these days.  It's best to lay down a fresh top layer of your own litter if you want to avoid Pink Pad Pox."

You don't need an "indispensable," Jester - you just need to loosen your collar a bit and give your blood a sporting chance at reaching your brain again.

"And YOU need to stop censoring your adult cat's reading material!"

I DIDN'T censor your reading material.  I just skipped over "indispensables" because... well, because I wasn't sure how to pronounce it.

"What?!"

Until you read it to me just now, I thought it was INDY-spensibles - sort of like INDY 500, only without all the background noise.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a yellow caution flag.  Please reduce your listening speed and maneuver your ears slowly around the idiot in the middle of this conversation."

You know, Jess, you're not exactly making me wanna finish reading the rest of the book with you.

"That's ok - I finished it while you were standing there trying to come up with a witty reply to my last comment."

You finished The Map That Changed The World without me??

"Yep.  And you know what?  Turns out that The Map did it!"

Well, gee - thanks for spoiling it for me.

"Hey, unless there's a professional portrait of me on the wall by 9 a.m. tomorrow, you can expect me to spoil Madame Bovary for you, too, by telling ya all about how she offs herself."

*

Sartre once wrote a story called No Exit in which he tried to say that hell was other people.

I suspect Sartre would have come to a somewhat different conclusion had he had his literate cat proof-read that story for him before sending it off to his publisher....
 
 

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(©Now by DJ Birtcher with kid gloves on just in case
humans can catch Pink Pad Pox too)
 
 
 

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