The Life of Pablo
Many things about this past month have not been, shall we say, normal. For one, due to the current (*ahem* world pandemic) situation, I think it is safe to say that many of us are experiencing the strangest July that we have had in a long time. For another thing, and on a #personalnote, this probably counts the longest period of uninterrupted time that I have spend in my home city, with no imminent certainty regarding when the fuck I will be able to leave and resume normal life.
Normal life, the writer thinks with a manic laugh. Who would have thought that those words would someday come to mean not, ‘oh, dear god, when can I stop staring at my laptop screen, trying to revise the French historic past tense, and go to Botecco with my friends’, but now ‘normal life’ roughly translates to: ‘OH, DEAR GOD, WHEN CAN I STOP STARING AT THE ‘ARE YOU STILL WATCHING’ NETFLIX MESSAGE* ON MY LAPTOP SCREEN, AND VENTURE FURTHER THAN MY LEGS CAN CARRY ME, INTO THE VICINITY OF OTHER FUNCTIONING HUMAN BEINGS WHO ARE NOT RELATED TO ME, WITHOUT FEAR OF CONTRACTING THE GLOBAL VIRUS’.
*Hi Netflix, just a little side note, but these passive aggressive messages you’ve been sending me lately, asking, rather insensitively, ‘If I am in fact still watching Jane the Virgin?’ I just wanted to inform you that they are callous and uncalled for. And, for the record, the answer is yes, yes, I am. I think at this point it is safe to assume that the answer is always yes. So you can stop with all that, thank you very much. Quite frankly, you’re coming off a little judgy. And that’s not cute.
Being situated in a highly suburban area, without taking public transport and given the fact that I am entirely unable to operate a motorized vehicle under the legal eyes of the law, I am pretty much limited to the whims of my feet. If they say, “Stop! We are positively exhausted from all this exercise nonsense! Turn back immediately, Jane is anxiously awaiting our return.” then I am forced to obey. So the most exciting interaction I have had all week boils down to a rather steamy conversation I had with the electronic cashier machine in the Co-op, in which I was asked by that charming, disembodied voice if I wanted a receipt? I left the question hanging a moment too long, letting the anticipation build, the atmosphere already tense from the fact that I had scandalously refused it’s earlier offer to scan my non-existent club card, until neither of us could bare it any longer, and I pressed no and left. The rush! I thought about all the tree lives I had saved on the way home, mightily pleased with myself.
The other note worthy interactions I have been having recently, are the long, insightful conversations that I have with my cat, Pablo. I think it is prudent to note that Pablo is not named after the great painter, Pablo Picasso, nor the Chilean Nobel Prize winning poet, Pablo Neruda, but instead, and much to my dismay, he is named after the Manchester City player, Pablo Zabaleta. I had great, culturally high-brow hopes for this feline, and feel as though this unfortunate decision to name him after a football player and not a revolutionary world-renowned artist has somewhat stunted his creative pursuits. I mean, is there anything more degrading, as a cat, than being the namesake of someone who plays a sport which consists of running after a ball, essentially the canine personification of human professions? Is it any wonder that he is yet to exhibit any sighs of budding creative genius? I think not.
The whole name ordeal would be made somewhat bearable, had Pablo showed any sign of athletic talent. But sadly, the extent of his sportsman acumen seems to begin and end with the long jump he performs in order to get from the ground, to whichever surface he has decided to sleep on for the day.
All this said, his company has been quite nice these past two weeks. I mean, apart from the shocking, and really quite frightening amount of coffee that I have been consuming, Pablo is the only way by which I can measure the steadily declining state of my sanity.
As it turns out, Pablo has quite a philosophical world view, preferring to ditch the whole Schroeder’s cat theory as appropriation of the feline species and has so far proven himself to be a rather skilled conversationalist. I had never even noticed how he had become so proficient in the fine art of Jenga. For a guy without opposable thumbs, he sure has mastered severely beating our asses at family game night. Not a sportsman like approach to that either, as he takes every win by parading around the living room, belting out ‘I am the CHAMPION’ and refusing to let anyone else get a word in edgeways until he slinks off, vindicated with another victory, to fall asleep somewhere else.
Since I had left the family home and gone off to university, Pablo and I had begun the inevitable drifting apart that comes when one moves a great distance, and slowly forgets to check in as often as one promised. Cats are creatures of mystery, well-skilled practitioners of the cold-shoulder, the ultimate cool girls, refusing to display any emotional response or bestow affection onto those who they consider to be traitors of the worst kind.
And so, slowly but surely, I have been working tirelessly to scrape my way back into my cat’s good graces. I feed him, I offer to accompany him in his morning prowl around the garden, I spend hours upon hours stroking him and complementing him on the lush, voluptuousness of his ginger fur.
“Wow! So soft! Have you been using a new shampoo, or something?” I say enthusiastically as he scowls at my attempts, clearly finding my transparency irritating, and frankly, just plain embarrassing at this point. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable knowing how it feels to have my own cat looking at me with absolutely zero respect. As if regretting the Shakespearean peripeteia that has befallen his once great master, and just generally loosing all respect what so ever for this tragic clinger-on, who keeps interrupting nap time to tell him that his brows are flawless.
It is really quite astounding how one look can convey the complex and varied spectrum of cat emotion. Or am I just staring at my own reflection in the glossy, dead-pan darkness of his empty gaze? And that’s if he deigns to humor my sycophantic flattery with a response. Mostly he just goes on purring like a tractor, to which I promptly move the subject of conversation along to the impressive natural buoyancy of his whiskers.
However, sometimes, Pablo will hit me with the ‘slow blink’.
This is something I had seen before, that peculiar half-speed blink that cats do. But I had never stopped to think about what it could mean. And now… you see where this is going? Because whilst I had no idea what kind of Sun Tzu mind games were hiding behind that furry face, there was one place that could provide me with the answer, and so much more. The internet had never failed me before, I was sure that this time would be no different. It was a flawless equation. I was more than willing to bet my actual cat that the venn diagram of heavy internet users and cat loving agoraphobics was one which fit like pieces of a feline themed puzzle. Of course, I was right, and upon searching for the meaning behind this da Vinci code, I found approximately a bazillion cat enthusiast blogs dedicated to providing me with my answer.
Apparently, the internet, too, had wondered at this slow blink cat phenomena. Why was I surprised? Like an intrepid explorer, I dived into an article entitled : Is it a true cat slow blink – or something else?
Firstly, can I just say that I have endless respect for the creator of this article. I mean, just look at that power-punch of a fucking title! At first glimpse: all is in proper order, nothing much out of the ordinary, clearly letting the facts lead the way, before WHAM! They hit us with that cliff hanger of a hyphen. And that hyphen conveys all the cold-blooded calculation of a schadenfreude mastermind. You thought this was the end! they cackle maniacally, euphoric at having outwitted us mere mortal internet users. That hyphen, in all it’s mystic glory, followed by the uncanny rhetorical question, ‘or something else?‘, so filled with enigma and intrigue. I had chills.
Anyway, as it transpires, this ‘true’ slow cat blink signals that your cat is relaxed and happy, a sure-fire sign that you have broken through that impenetrable exterior and captured their affection.
I thought about Pablo, and this seemed a dubious explanation. Especially when considering the fact that I had no concrete evidence that he was actually blinking, and not just scowling. Because I must say, Pablo does more accurately resemble a cowboy in a spaghetti western, getting ready for an enemy face off, and not a blissed out kitty expressing his undying love. And as I read on, the whole thing was getting more and more ridiculous… And I just couldn’t stop reading. ‘A cat slow blink is worth a thousand wonderful words’ and ‘discover the right way to elicit that cat slow blink’, I slowly found myself becoming more and more embroiled in the subtleties of the feline body language. I wondered if Pablo really was trying to tell me that instead of trailing him around the house like a stalker, I desperately needed to take a step back and respect his social boundaries? When I was eating, and he would sulk about, meowing incessantly- was this him trying, ever so subtly, to communicate that it was not in fact his stomach, as I had thought, but really his inner spiritual soul that needed nourishing? And was Dr Delgado, Ph.D. and Certified Cat Behavior Consultant, right when he said that cats hide behind their cool exterior and ruthless reputation in order to masquerade their true vulnerability?
And then, somewhere in the midst of all this cat psychoanalysis, the good doctor recommended that I try catching a look at my cat’s pupils, during the slow blink, in order to gauge whether this was a ‘true’ slow cat blink, or just my cat playing some twisted mind games in order to mess with my psyche. Excuse me, what? Dr Delgado, am I reading this correctly? Are you, or are you not, encouraging me to deceive my cat by luring him into a carefully constructed slow-blink farce? Lulling him into a false sense of relaxation so that I may provoke said ‘slow blink’, and thus fully assess the legitimacy of my cat’s true intentions?
To which point, I promptly shut my laptop and proceeded to dunk my head into a sink filled with ice-cold water, just to make sure I had not accidentally entered the realm of no-return insanity. Hidden cat signals flashed behind my eyes. The secret kitty Morse code, classified beyond the human capacity to decipher such insur*meow*table signs.
And then I returned to the land of the sane. What a wild ride. All this cat knowledge, the time and energy that these people had dedicated to uncovering the Aladdin’s cave of cat secrets. These creatures had just about cornered the market for every aspect of our pet-obsessed lives. What clever little bastards!
But then, for centuries, throughout history, cats have had this certain magnanimity. This god-like aura that made the ancient Egyptians worship at their paws, meant that they were entrusted with guarding Buddhist scriptures on ships traveling from China to Japan, and even meant that they featured in 4th century Indian folklore, where they are depicted philosophising about the true nature of power.
To this I say, have cats gone through some kind of reverse evolution? Because these cats sound pretty fucking accomplished. Meanwhile, Pablo can just about go thirty seconds without halting to clean his entire body with his freakishly lengthy tongue. Forget being entrusted with ancient Buddhist scripture, I can’t even leave a glass of water unattended to, for fear that my cat will swiftly dunk his massive head into the clearly too small opening, and subsequently knock the glass over, spilling water over every important document I have ever owned. Eejit doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Listen, I’m not asking much here. I don’t need my cat to be exceptional. He doesn’t have to be a Picasso, or a Neruda, or a Zabaleta – not even an Escobar! He is, after all, a bloody cat.
All I want is for him to respect, adore and worship me- is that really too much for a gal to ask?
Disclaimer: This is in no way affiliated with the works of one Mr Kanye West. All similarities, visual or otherwise, are merely coincidental and are in no way Pablo’s attempt at intellectual property theft. I must reiterate, he is a CAT and cannot be held accountable for any claims of fraudulent behavior.