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Meatball Memories

February 23, 2012

Some of you know him. His name is Meatball. He is a cat.

I first got to know Meatball in the summer of  ’05 — younger days for both of us, more so for him. I was moving into a house, he was moving out. There wasn’t a lot of time, but we got to hang a bit. Each took the measure of the other and, I would like to think, decided “Okay, you’re cool.” Meatball went on to Graves Street. A year later, I followed and became his downstairs neighbor. We have both been on the street ever since, despite a misguided attempt to move him to a new home a few blocks away. Meatball would have none of that and ultimately his will prevailed.

But now it looks like he is really going. Meatball will prowl Graves Street no longer.

What can you say about a cat? I am just a human being. I know nothing of the mysteries of felinity.  Cats are aliens in our midst that do us the favor of accepting our food and, occasionally, our affection. They fascinate us, they bewilder us, sometimes they puke all over our stuff. Meatball embodies the mysteries of his race. You might say “He is a brave cat” or “He is a handsome cat,” “A dignified cat” or “An elegant cat.” All true, but not enough.

In the spirit of Marlene Dietrich in Touch of Evil I just want to say “He was some kind of a cat.” Except that should be in the present tense, because Meatball is not dead.

Two anecdotes of Meatball.

Last summer I was sitting on my porch in late afternoon, reading a book and enjoying the day’s grace, when I saw that a baby bird had fallen to the ground. It belonged to a pair of jays nesting in one of the trees in the front yard. The baby hopped around on the unfamiliar ground, chirping, while its parents flew about around it, occasionally hopping down beside, crying out in love and terror. It was pitiful sight. That child was a goner. The yard was patrolled by a multitude of cats. And soon enough one appeared. I did a little half-hearted shooing –what was the point? — but the cat continued to prowl. It came close, but it never did find that baby bird, and eventually I ran it off. Some time later, maybe about an hour after the whole drama began, I saw a sudden steak of movement come from across the road to directly where the little bird sat. It was Meatball, like a lion on the veldt. He was merciful, he didn’t play with his victim, he just chomped. He haughtily ignored the flutter and cry of the panicked, grief-stricken parents and slinked off, his victim in his jaws.

Meatball likes to kill things: insects, rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians. Whatever. He’d kill you if you shrank to a small enough size. He is a predator. That other cat was just a pussy.

But my second story shows a different side of Meatball.

Some years ago I came home late one night, distraught. I do not know for what reason. There is always reason. All I know is that grief and despair took hold of me that night, and covered me under their inky shroud. So it was as I walked into my bedroom and there, to my complete surprise, was Meatball lying on my bed. Meatball lived upstairs; as a matter of policy and practice he never came into the downstairs apartment. How had he gotten in? A glance at the open window showed me: the screen, only loosely propped into place, had come out, and it was just a simple leap from the ground to the inside.

I could have found something better in my bed: a beautiful woman, a pile of money, or a plate of fresh sushi and a bottle of good whiskey would have done. But I was happy to just have Meatball there. When I needed a friend he turned up, as if he somehow knew. Yes, we cuddled. I stroked him and he purred, I spoke to him and he purred. After awhile I threw him outside. I felt  better. The darkness had been lifted, thanks to Meatball. I will never forget that.

Friday night there will be a going-away party for Meatball and his butler Mops. If you have known this cat, have loved this cat, have cherished and obeyed this cat, do show up and pay your respects.

From → Meatball

One Comment
  1. I’m told that Meatball is not actually being taken to Richmond (quoth Restivo: “Parisi, you are a deadbeat cat-dad!” and thus a new home is currently being sought for him, preferably on Graves. I may be allergic to him, but it would be sad not to have him around.

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