Dear David, or should I begin Dear Mr. Sedriz? I just finished reading a story in your new book “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” about a fellow who tried to sell you a cell phone. Sell you a cell, ha ha. You said that you like listening to people whose lives are fundamentally different from yours, and that those differences should be in a bad way. Like someone who lives in an old refrigerator beside a drainage ditch. I don’t live in an old refrigerator, but in 1953, as an eight year old I saw one beside the road. It didn’t have a door, and so we never really considered moving in.
I like the idea of being friends, of you listensing to what I say. I can’t write you about a Mongoose or a Honey Badger, or even a Dromedary but I do have a cat, and an ant I can tell you about.
I know you have experience with cats, there was Sadie you’ve mentioned before, and so you certainly know how curious they sometimes are. We had a cat too, his name was Avon.
Curiosity didn’t kill our cat, but it came within a foot. I was cooking eggs for breakfast and throwing the shells into the sink, and mostly hitting the target. My target was the disposal. The cat, thinking it was a game, jumped on the counter and started swatting the shells as they traced an arc between the stove and the sink.
I’ve been training the cat to stay off the counter. I use a bottle of water with its spray nozzle set on stream, but the bottle was across the room and so I made do with the tools at hand.
I only meant to scare him. I never imagined that he would put his foot in the disposal. I never imagined when I flipped the switch that he would swat the last remaining shell from the counter to the sink and through the black rubber fingers that guard the entrance to the whirling blades below. I never imagined that the cat would reach for the shell and try to prevent its descent.
I tried to turn off the disposal, but I’m not as quick as a cat. His paw disappeared into hole, he shrieked, and jumped from the sink onto the floor and disappeared. The cat’s hiding, and I can’t find him. I don’t see a trail of blood, and I checked the disposal, no paw there. But then there wouldn’t be, would there. I hope he’s okay. It’s a few days later now, and I still haven’t seen the cat. My wife says he’s just fine no thanks to me.
The cat was a real part of our family, but like Sadie he died. He often watched me while I surfed the web, or answered my email. It was just such a day, when I met the ant I mentioned before. Here’s the story.
There is an ant in my house, and there is a bookcase attached to the wall above and behind the desk my computer sits on. Most days I see the ant walking along the lower edge of the bookshelf, he walks at least 30 minutes every day. I figure he is on some sort of fitness regimen.
I know there are some of you, who, if you saw an ant walking across the edge of the bookcase in front of you would reach out and pinch him between your forefinger and your thumb, or maybe between your middle finger and thumb, and then you’d squeeze him gently. It wouldn’t take much, and then you’d flick him toward the wastebasket. Not me, I like having an ant in the house.
The edge is perpendicular to the ground so I’m not sure how he manages not to fall, sticky feet I’m guessing. He always walks from my right to my left and around the corner of the bookcase and out of sight. Then somehow he walks behind the bookcase and later reappears again walking right to left and around the corner. I don’t remember seeing him appear until he is at least a third of the way along the edge, I’m thinking he must have an invisibility cloak like that young Potter fellow.
Where is he when he’s not circling above me? Why he’s on the wall near where the cat sleeps. The cat and he like to play, though not as much now as they once did.
One day I saw the cat trying to catch the ant, usually the cat just sits and stares at him tilting his head to one side and then to the other. But not not this time. This time he had the ant in his paw, and then he started hopping around and shaking his paw. I laughed. I’m not sure if I should have. Was the ant just tickling his foot or was he biting? “Play nice,” I said.
This continued for a time, and then either the ant got tired of the game and jumped to the floor or the cat shook him loose.
I was worried about the ant, I didn’t see him land; he may have had a hard landing. I didn’t see the ant for the rest of the day, but the next morning there he was doing his wall walking right in front of me. I said, “Hi ant, how you doing.” He ignored me.
You might think that we are not fundamentally different enough, since like you I do a little writing, but there is a fundamental difference that you will like, one that will allow us to be friends, one that will make you feel good about yourself. I don’t get paid for my writing! If I ever do get paid for my writing I would understand you breaking off the friendship.
Then again, maybe Hugh has it right, and you shouldn’t let it get to far, you probably shouldn’t be reading this, you should have just said why can’t they “leave me the fuck alone,” but I want to be friends, I want to share my stories with you. You can call me anytime, even collect.