"White" people don't have white skin, not even glow-in-the-dark Caucasians like me. And his skin isn't white, either. It's pink. It's his fur that's white. Pure white. His momma was a long
haired seal-point Siamese, and his daddy was a Godknows. The other four in the litter were completely coal black. I chose him because I could always tell which one he was. You see, I already had
two cats -- 2 years old, a brother and sister from the same litter, and they were both on the large end of the cat size spectrum, and the first part of my plan to integrate this new kitten into the
menage involved rubbing him down good with a tea towel, then leaving the towel lying about for the other two to sniff, with the idea that when I brought the kitten home, he would not be a complete
stranger to them. I also borrowed a cage from a colleage who raised Persians. The kitten would come home in the cage and stay in the cage until everyone had hissed and made up. I also thought that
because he was obviously the dominant kitten in the litter, he might be better able to hold his own in a household with two cats who were years older, much bigger and 4 times heavier than he was.
Of course, it would also help that he had claws, and they didn't. I decided to name him Gobi (like the Mongolian desert) Gobotiputtitatti. I needn't have worried about him. He had, it seemed, a
double helping of his Siamese mother's "catitude" and having been the dominant one in a litter of 5, he was used to throwing his weight around (all 2 lbs of it). For the first month or so, he was
only out of the cage for a couple of hours at a time, and only when I was there to act as referee. However, I was working at home by then, and when I went into the "office" (read: "back bedroom")
to work, I would take the cage with me and set it on the floor beside me while I worked. He was so cute and pink, and he was such a holy terror! He'd wade right into the middle of the other two,
who naturally did not appreciate having their tickets punched by his needle-like teeth or being warted half to death by the depredatory efforts of this bantam-weight tiger wannabe, and when they
would back off from his incessant onslaughts and take to the heights, that would just reinforce his belief that his stuff was about the hottest thing around. In fact, he was getting so aggressive
that I had him declawed at 2 months, and neutered at 4 months, in hopes that it would chill him out a little. Guess again.
By the time he was a year old, it was apparent that he had also inherited his mother's luxuriously long fur -- but all of his is snow white. The guard hairs are over two inches long, and the undercoat could be spun into yarn and passed off as cashmere. He has inch-long tufts of fur in between the pads of his paws, his tail looks like a feather boa, and his whiskers are nothing short of splendid -- I've measured some of them at over 6 inches long. He has that broad, flat tiger head, with the tiger "muttonchops," high cheekbones and amber yellow eyes.
His version of the "crepuscular crazies" is particularly frenetic. In fact, it reminds me of that Japanese Kabuki play that has the lion character, played by an actor in a long white Tina Turner wig that hangs halfway down his back, and he does this song and dance number where he leaps about the stage and shakes his mane, and the music is all clangy, gongy, twangy and percussive. Gobi goes pelting through the house like an F-14 (Tomcat!) on afterburner, his tail streaming out like a contrail behind him. Then he comes to a screeching halt (not unlike a carrier landing), whirls about, strikes all these dramatic, tail flourishing poses, and favors the household with renditions of some of the juicier Kabuki soliloquies in high Aragoto style.
I guess I get it from my dad, this tendency to invent ridiculously elaborate noms de spoof for the purpose of gently teasing people (read: me and my sib). I mean Gobi already had a pretty ornate monicker to start with: Gobi Gobotiputtitatti (His mom was a New Delhi Danglibelli). However, pretty early in the game, he acquired "Cadwallader P. Tailflourisher," for obvious reasons. And for reasons which are obscure even to me, he went through a period when he was Glockenspiel and starred in his own epic poem (with sheepish apologies to Sir Walter Scott) that went, "Oh, Glockenspiel has come out of the West. Of all of the kitties, his tail is the best. If making a shambles is your kind of deal, then you need a cat like young Glockenspiel."and so forth, ad absurdum. Then there was the Weird Al Yankovichian "Mr. Poopdangles," with lyrics that alluded to one of the more embarassing complications of having long fur in certain areas. Then there is his thing about boxes. If it's a closed box, then he'll lie on top of it, and if it's an open box, he'll curl up in it. The box my new printer came in immediately became the preferred presiding place and consequently sat in the middle of the living room floor for five months until I finally sawed down the legs of a sofa table and made a coffee table out of it. Only then could I finally get rid of the printer box, because until I provided a suitable replacement, every time I tried to throw the box out, he would kvetch and whine and kvetch and whine and kvetch and whine. . . . . Thus, as he presided over the living room from his printer box throne, he became Emperor Pu An Yu, and later, simply Pu. He is Tiger!Tiger! burning bright in the forests of the furniture, (which doesn't scan but never mind), in which guise he is death to cat toys, which he ultimately dispatches after a heroically athletic bit of Douglas-Fairbanksian swash-and-bucklery. Of course, once you've killed the beast, then you must parade about the house carrying it in your mouth, and sing "The Mighty Hunter Song" (as featured on his latest album, "Songs from Big Pink").
Although he's going on 6 now, he's still very like those big for their age, 4-year-old boys who are unruly, rowdy and obstreperous. The ones who grow bigger but never grow up. They charge through life like a bull at a gate with all the subtlty and refinement of the barbarians in the Capital One credit card commercial. Contrary though he may be, and he can be quite contrary if he chooses, he is my self-appointed wing man, my second banana. He insists on sleeping on the bed by my side, and of the three, he is the one most likely to follow me from room to room as I go about my day. He's the one who preempted the cardboard box my transcriber foot pedal came in, tossed on the floor beside my desk 2 years ago when I unpacked it. Somehow, 13 pounds of cat magically manages to coil himself into this 12 x 9 inch box and snoozes there for hours while I work. It has acquired a rime of white cat fur around the bottom over the years. Oh, and did I mention he eats paper? Newsprint, envelopes, copier paper, bills, greeting cards, magazines, cash register tape, toilet paper, whatever. One time he got up on my desk and ate a rather large chunk out of my electric utilities bill. I actually had to call customer service, explain that my cat had chewed off the part of my bill where it said how much I owed, and I didn't know how much to make the check for. The customer service rep got a good laugh, and I got a lesson about keeping important papers in drawers where he can't get at them. He has a particular sweet tooth for tissues. When I set a box of tissues out, I can't pull a tissue up out of the opening ready to grab. I have to make sure it's pushed down inside the box because if I don't , it will be munched. Yep, he's an ol' Pu, but he's a good ol' Pu.
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