Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Paw guards agree: Iris as Governor General? A shoo-in

IRIS REGIMENT: The incoming governor general's paw guards
When I was in second year university, I had a roommate named Vince Ramsay and at the end of that year he landed what sounded like an awfully impressive summer job: He joined the Governor General’s foot guards. 

Feet guards are the men and women who, dressed in red jackets and shiny boots, stand dead still for the entire summer, except when something called “changing of the guard” happens, at which time their boss yells really loudly and they move and stand somewhere else. 

Their other job is to stare straight ahead and remain completely serious faced when people like me try to make them laugh. 

Foot guards might have other duties but those are the only ones I know of and anyways, facts have never been my strong suit. 

I started thinking about Vince about 15 minutes ago because our cat, Professor Iris, is in her third week of the campaign to be named Canada’s next Governor General and I realize I am fully qualified to be one of Iris’ foot guards. 

For our non-Canadian readers whoever you are, a Governor General is a non-elected government appointment—officially the queen’s representative here in Canada. I'm pretty sure you don't need any official qualifications, and Iris is good on that front. Some people believe the Governor General’s job is largely ceremonial but I know they do some things like give out prizes. And tell the footguards when to change.

A TAIL OF ONE KITTY: Foot guards can't move without purrmission
But back to me. I know I could qualify as Governor General Iris’ foot guard because I already guard Iris’ feet. 

And watching over Iris’ paws is no mean feat. 

Here’s why. 

Since I stopped commuting last year, I realized that I loved and miss those precious moments I spent in the car in both directions between home and work. 

Five days a week, I was guaranteed two recesses from life, during which I could do nothing. Or something. It was completely up to me.

I could plan my day, listen to music I wanted to hear or maybe comedy radio or I could just daydream about all the fun I’ve had and all the fun I’m going to have. 

I think people are going to miss their commutes more than they realize. 

I replaced commuting with rocking.

In the same chair. Every workday morning and evening, for at least 30 minutes. No phone, no newspaper, no book. 

I just stare out the front window, think and enjoy the rhythm, best underscored if the chair is squeaking, like a slow-paced metronome. Sometimes I’ll sip tea but that’s okay because I could do that commuting. 

These leisurely rocks are so addictive and soothing I won’t be surprised when somebody way more industrious than me gets rich writing a book called “Idiot’s Guide to Rocking In a Chair.”

Which is where Professor Iris comes in. 

The only activity I permit myself during my rocks is skritching Iris, who is so presumptuous that every morning when I come downstairs she is virtually leaning against the left side of the rocker, awaiting her royal skritcher. Same thing at the end of the workday. I come into the living room and there she is.

If that doesn’t prove Iris has all the makings of a monarch, nothing does. (I’m also her litter carrier. I think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should name Iris G.G just to so he could get his paws on all these great puns!) 

And it’s all about Iris’ feet. They need guarding. 

As she lets me scratch her with my left-hand fingers, she sort of writhes and twists and moves around; and I think if you measured, you’d see that at least 50 per cent of the time, one of her appendages, it could be her long white tail or more likely, one of her feet, is actually positioned under the rocker. 

 Very dangerous spot. 

And frequently, she stops mid-writhe and said appendage remains under the rocker. It’s up to me to make sure nothing untoward happens.

I, just like Vince back in Ottawa, can’t move a muscle until the boss gives me permission. One wrong move and Iris gets hurt. Unthinkable.

As I type, Iris is in the window, regally watching her subjects shuffle about her realm. 

Me, I’m in the rocking chair trying to sit still, practising for my next job. 

 Of course if I don’t move soon, the changing of the guard’s going to have a whole new meaning.

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