I Met My First Cat Outside a Bar
Being young and going barhopping go hand in hand. After all, isn’t that where you are supposed to meet your soulmate?
That didn’t happen in college, and I found myself (some very unsoulful relationships later) in my mid-20s, still alone, living by myself in a town with anything but a zestful social life. So when a co-worker asked whether I’d like to go to southern New Hampshire on Saturday night and check out some clubs, the answer was a resounding yes.
We were riddled with excitement. This was going to be an awesome night. We ended up at a club in Rochester, a place my friend Darlene had heard rave reviews about.
When we walked through the door, we thought, yikes! This place was not the place to find the man -- or any person -- of your dreams. You’d be lucky to find one with a full set of teeth. Cigarette smoke hung in the air. There were lots of older dudes with balding heads and ragged jeans. But the music was okay. The drinks weren’t bad either.
At the end of the evening, we settled up our tabs and meandered down the street toward the car, having a few laughs over this rather interesting crowd. And then it was like magic. I saw the most gorgeous creature one could ever lay eyes on. Even by streetlight, this was absolutely stunning. It was the answer to all my dreams. We both stopped dead in our tracks.
Mind you, this was no guy -- not a gal, either. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t human. It was a cat, with a strong resemblance to a Maine Coon, and it was crying. Was it lost? Why was this gorgeous kitty out here this time of night?
The kitty seemed lost, afraid, and was disheveled. Her fur was in disarray, and it was obvious she was lost. I kept looking around to see if there were some apartments or houses around, but there were none. This was a very busy commercial strip with no evidence of near-by residences. I couldn't bear the thoughts of her getting hurt or run-over. It seemed she just wanted someone to love and take care of her.
I’d had toyed with the idea of getting a cat, but it seemed like a huge commitment. I was struggling with an entry-level journalism job. The pay basically covered the rent, gas bill, and some food. But still, a cat would be company. And as a single female in an all-too-family-oriented community, a cat could be a welcome addition. After all, I’d been striking out on the human level. But was I ready to make this lifelong commitment?
As these thoughts were racing through my mind, Darlene kept oohing and ahhing over the poor kitty. She said, “Maybe you should take kitty home with you?"
Faint meows kept calling me to kitty. Rational, intellectual me thought, There’s an easy way to solve this dilemma. We all know cats won’t allow you to pick them up. You can’t even get close to a strange cat. They’ll bolt and run away. This will be the ultimate test of fate. The cat will run and that’ll be that.
I started walking toward the cat. It stood still, staring at me, as I inched closer and closer. I reached down and picked it up ever so gently ... and it just melted into my arms. That sealed the deal: Kitty, to be named Victory after the club, took over my heart and my life.
She (I later found out she was a she) never offered to leave the safety of my arms that night. We snuggled the entire ride home. Darlene was driving. She left us at my apartment door.
Victory was beautiful. While not a purebred Maine Coon, she had the tufts in her ears. She had a rusty brown, black, and white coat with no defined pattern, white paws, and a white fluffy bib. She even had an extra toe. We called her double-pawed.
She was so special that I didn't want to see her be anyone's but mine, but I knew the responsible thing was to see if she was lost. I called the nearest animal shelter to see if someone had reported a missing kitty matching her description. There were none. I left my number with them, just in case ... but there were no calls. It appears that Victory was among the many kitties that end up homeless. Thank goodness, it wasn't for long, and she became a beloved companion for many, many years.
She was everything I could have dreamed of: loving yet not judgmental, friendly but not needy, independent but not aloof. She was content to stay by herself those very long days that I was at work. When I’d come home, whether in the middle of the day or night, she’d run to the glass sliding door when she heard my car. Then she’d dash to the door to meow hello.
She was a master at manipulation. Thoughts of keeping her out of the bedroom and off the bed flitted quickly away after she spent endless hours keeping me awake by pawing at the door, insisting that she be on the inside, not the outside. She’d pounce on the water bed with water sloshing back and forth, waking me up every time she went to use her litter box or get an extra bite to eat from the food bowl in the kitchen.
To say she became spoiled would be an understatement. She wormed her way into my life and into my heart. She became a favorite with my family, because I’d never dream of leaving her alone for Christmas or Thanksgiving. She knew she’d get lots of goodies upon arrival.
Vic and I spent the next 20 years together. While she eventually succumbed to kidney failure, she still holds a special place in my heart. I found my soulmate that night outside the bar, one that I’ll never forget.
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