As promised, I present to you more Marge flyers… lots more. They are all over the damn neighborhood. We’ve been blanketed; every 50 feet in the 6 block area. And the posters are bigger, stronger, and laminated. You would need tools to take them down. It’s like The Six Million Dollar Man of flyers (Remember? “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic
man Cat Flyer.”)
Here’s the fine print: Please leave this sign up. (As though we had the strength or stamina to fight you.) We need the community’s help and support to bring our cat home. (OK! Can I keep doing my day job? Also, this is still a cat we’re talking about and not a human, right?) We will remove the signage after our cat is home. (I feel vaguely threatened. I told you, my family had nothing to do with this!) If you have any questions or concerns, please call the phone number on the sign. (Sigh. Which sign, this one? Where is the number again?) Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. (cooperation? I’m not under arrest, am I?)
Ok, I’m done with you Marge. It’s been a month and your signs are bullying and badgering.
Last night in bed I listened to the yips and howls of the coyote packs signaling to each other across our neighborhood open space (which is what Colorado calls it’s park areas) and, as I always do, thought of our cat Lulu.
Lulu has been “missing” for eight years. She was a recue cat we got from the Humane Society when my daughter was a baby. “Me and Audrey need company,” I explained to my husband who’s always worked long days. He might not have lots of fond memories of Lulu, but I still remember baby Audrey’s fits of giggles whenever Lulu did anything cat like. She was black-and-white with little white paws and a white chest, so she looked like she was wearing a tuxedo. When we chose her and brought her home I was prepared to love her completely. I use the term “chose her” loosely, because Lulu coming home with us was more her idea than mine. She meowed and meowed at Audrey and I when we walked by her kitty kennel at the Humane Society, and Audrey was delighted. I had never heard a cat demonstrate such immediate need for me so clearly. I was flattered. She meowed me (get it? instead of wooed?). I wanted to name her Mimi at first because she said ME! ME! But Mike thought that sounded too French.
As it turned out, I had also never owned a more neurotic and insanely loud pet. She couldn’t help it, she was just a “loud meower,” like “The loud talker”on Seinfeld, times 1000. “A loud cat?” you’re doubting. I wish you could have heard her. Like firetruck or ambulance sirens, Lulu’s piercing MEOW could be heard blocks away from our townhouse. I’m not exaggerating in the least. She would be shut-up inside the house alone–like cats do–windows closed, and you could still hear her throughout the neighborhood. Should we try to do anything normal in our daily life, like take Audrey for a walk in her stroller, Lulu would cry so insistently as we left that we were afraid the neighbors would call animal control. Reluctantly, we’d allow her to follow along. She would yell at us the whole time, as though to say “WE’RE GOING HOOOOOME! NOOOOWWWW!!!” And then, at a certain point, she would just stop, refusing to go one step further. She wouldn’t run back home on her own, but she would howl after us as we tried to continue on our way. Eventually, Mike would be forced to go back and pick her up and carry her home. She would pull that trick all on her own sometimes, too, on her evening prowls. Roaming a bit too far, she would suddenly realize where she was, stop in her tracks, and holler at the top of her cat lungs until Mike would furiously throw back the bed covers and have to run out into the night to bring her back.
My embarrassment was profound. I mean, the looks I would get from neighbors as I came home from wherever I had been, and Lulu had been cussing and complaining in “Cat” at the top of her lungs for all to hear, for hours.
So, when the day came years later that we realized we hadn’t seen or–more oddly–heard Lulu for a while, and our then two-year-old son Charlie asked, “Where’s Lulu?” I admit there was an element of relief in the knowing look Mike and I exchanged. We didn’t often let her outside after dusk, but Lulu had insisted, as only she could, on being let out the night before and she never came back in the morning. I made flyers and posted them, imploring area residents to check their garages and sheds. The normal amount of flyers. And when they faded and weathered from the elements, as is the normal course of things, I let them. There is such a thing as the circle of life, and it goes for signage, too.
My kids–even Tommy who knows the story–will tell you I never once admitted to them that Lulu was dead. And I still won’t. I would not tell my children the horror story of “the cat that got eaten” or let them carry the vision of their dear pet’s bloodied decomposed body. Lulu is Missing. “We don’t know what happened to her,” I maintain every time they ask me what really happened. They want me to say it, yet are fearful that I will. “It’s possible, she may be dead,” I’ll eventually grant them. “But she could also have just gotten lost, brought to the pound, and adopted by the nice family who found her.” She might very-well be in another city, all cozy in her cat bed, yelling at her dazed and exhausted owners for her dinner. “We don’t know.” I shrug, and they have no choice but to accept my brand of gentler but undeniable logic. (My brand of logic works in lots of child-rearing scenarios, like answering questions about Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. But more on that later.)
This mental trick is what I’d recommend to Marge’s owners. If they want, I can call the number on their sign and tell whoever answers the same story I told my kids as I tucked them in at bedtime. “We don’t know what happened to Marge,” I’ll say. “Her cat collar camera failed and it’s not transmitting a signal anymore. Her new owners saw it, but they’re older so they didn’t know what to do with it. Just like they didn’t see or know what to do with the QR scanner code on your flyer. It was a really good flyer.” I’ll come over. I’ll sit on the edge of their bed and stroke their hair in the soft glow of the nightlight as they drift into dreamless sleep. “Marge has a new family now and they moved across country. She’s happy. Her new family loves her. Almost as much as you did.”
PS: Below: another Marge Flyer, and other signs foretelling of Marge’s fate…
PPS: The other night Mike came in from the garden and said, “I found a cat…?” We all jumped up and ran outside. It wasn’t Marge. But I think it’s sweet that for a brief moment we held the shining hope that we would be Marge’s heroes. And that the story could come full circle for my blog. How cool would that have been!?