Today Francis is 13. I have never had a cat live to be 13. Naturally, it has to be my cat with attitude who keeps a-going.
I know I have told this story before, but people come and go from this blog.
The year was 1997. If you owned a cell phone, it was the size of a Subway tuna melt. We all wore those stupid high-heeled Ally McBeal loafers that looked like pilgrim shoes. Marvin and I lived in an apartment that faced…a bunch of other apartments. It was picturesque.
"MEEEEEEE!" we heard one evening.
What was that?" I asked, cupping my fake French nail tips around my ear.
"I didn't hear anything," said Marvin, who was already stampeding toward deafness at the age of 30. It was early September, Princess Diana had just died, and Marvin and I had just flown back from Michigan, where we'd had our engagement party.
"MEEEEEEEEEEP!" we heard again. Well. I heard again. "How can you not hear that?" I asked, stepping onto our balcony in my clever overall dress. "MEEEEEEEE!"
I am sorry to tell you that Marvin and I went to eat at Art's Delicatessen, came back, and once again heard the "MEEEEE!" It breaks my heart, in retrospect, that I had to have a chopped liver sandwich while poor Fran was MEEEEEing all that time.
"Do you hear that?" asked the gayest man in the world, who lived in the apartment across from us with a matching balcony. He, too, was sporting a clever overall dress. Okay, he wasn't, but I swear to you he had a daiquiri in his hand. A daiquiri. It was like he went to the Charles Nelson Riley School of Gaydom. He may have had a scarf tied jauntily around his neck, too. Usually I heart me the gay man, but this guy was annoying. He used to call me if I left my balcony light on too long. "You must be very rich. You've had that light on all night."
Oh, shut up. Isn't there a Liza marathon on TNT or something?
Marvin, who finally heard it, said, "It's a bird."
The sound was coming from the carport and the cultural divide between the gay neighbor, Gaybor, and me. "That has to be a kitten, not a bird," said Gaybor. "I'll get Gerald to climb that carport."
Gerald was Gaybor's unbelievably hot young boyfriend. Marvin and I left our apartment and ran over to Gaybor's driveway, mostly so I could watch the hot boyfriend climb the carport. "You're gonna find a bird," Marvin insisted.
Yet there was teensy Francis, decidedly not a bird, two weeks old, no teeth yet, hanging upside-down from some ivy. He was black and white, and there was a black and white feral cat in the neighborhood, and we figured she was the mom. Why would she abandon her kitten like that?
Well. Now we know.
Naturally, I wrapped Francis up IN A WASHCLOTH, that's how small he was, and took him home.
We had to call the vet and ask what to do with such a little sprite, and we had to buy $7-a-can cat milk and feed it to him. At night he slept in a cat carrier with a hot-water bottle, and he'd cry just like a human baby, and we'd take turns feeding him. You were supposed to warm up his bottle slightly, and once Fran was grown up, Marvin admitted that one time he was tired and fed Francis the bottle cold, and that poor teensy kitten just shivered.
Sometimes I want to feed Marvin to sharks.
I had to teach him how to poop (Francis, not Marvin) by rubbing a wet cloth on his parts. I am not making this up. Our cat Ruby instinctively took over some mothering duties, but mostly Francis followed my beloved Mr. Horkheimer around, knowing Horkie was the coolest cat on earth. Francis wanted to be exactly like Hork.
Some of my friends told me they were steeling themselves for my hysterical "the kitten didn't make it!!" call, but Frannie grew up big and strong.
Today, Francis is a teenager. He has arthritis in his cat hips, and a giant disgusting cyst on his side, he hates the dog and he weighs 750 pounds. I guess his salad days are behind him. But I am glad he came into our lives with his "MEEEEE!" cry.
Happy birthday, Francis.
Fran despise all you. Stop look at Fran. And I not a bird.