Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Still Life: a collection of nothing

How could I have missed it? Flower petals unfurling; a slow, sad waltz. The girl at the plant shop told me: "They really flourish when in distress. You want flowers? Snap off a branch, let your cat go at it. Soon you'll have more flowers than you know what to do with - they like the abuse." Sure, I have flowers now, but I can't seem to get my cat to stay out of the tulips. The veterinarian told me: "Cat's don't learn by way of threats or physical discipline. They take such actions as challenges, and such actions will generally make them act out all the more." I guess what he's saying is: cats are not plants.

The cat's meticulous stretch, a yawn, practiced and precise. He's tired because he's done nothing all day; I'm tired for the same reason. The difference: my yawn is a yawn of the defeated, whispering of the failure, discontentment, and anxiety of a wasted day. The cat's is a yawn of the champion, brimming with the pride, smugness, and indifference of a wasted day. As I close up my book and switch off the lamp, I think I spot a twitch across the room. The leaves of the plant. A yawn, perhaps. Contagious.

What is the one thing more exclusive than writing? Reading, of course. One human being sees another reading and feels irritated. Why? They are irritated because they are being left out. Reading is antisocial. Reading alienates. Reading is not for team players. I hear the pick pick picking of a cat sharpening his claws on new upholstery. I turn my head and catch him in the act. I also catch myself before I yell out what I'm thinking, reminding myself: cat's don't learn by way of threats. Cats also don't listen, cats are selfish, and cats are antisocial - cats should really take up reading. I vacate my chair, stalk across the room, and deftly snap a branch from the plant. Smug bastard - take that. How could I have missed it? Flower petals unfurling; a contemptuous, mocking act.

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