Friday, September 8, 2023

Doing the Iris jig

to me. Iris has always loved looking at books.
You don't suppose she can re...nahh...

This past Saturday morning, at about 11:00, my wife Helena and I were sitting across from each other on our front porch.

Our 16-year-old housemate, Professor Iris Cat--Iris to friends--strode out the front door and walked right between us, heading for the little patch of garden that she finds so comfortable and private. 

Scarcely had her little cottonball face passed our shins when this happened.

Helena said softly, "Iris."

Iris stopped, turned her head slightly but--and in less time it takes to count "one Mississippi" --realized what she'd done and resumed walking as if nothing had happened.

Helena and I looked at each other with that did-you-see-what-just-happened? expression.

Iris answered to her name. 

Ever since she joined our household on our son Michel's 16th birthday in November, 2005, Iris has had us believing she didn't recognize her own name. 

It was like that moment in an old detective movie, when the bank robber who'd been passing as a Presbyterian minister for years gets tripped up by a clever plainclothes detective, and flinches . 

Undercover Dick: "No disrespect Parson, but see the way that woman over there's standing? Reminds me of a poker game. Yeah, that's right. A strip poker game;  one night a lotta years back, in Baton Rouge. With a few of the saloon girls. After we knocked over the First National Bank." 

SEEING IRIS-to-IRIS: Forget about reading books,
what about minds?; Specifically, mine.
Robber: "It wasn't the First National, it was the Union Pacific!" Then realizing he'd given himself away, the bad guy tears off his minister's collar, with: "Dagnabbit! You caught me!"

After 16 years, Iris's jig--an Elizabethan word meaning joke, by the way--was up.

And why am I telling you this now? 

Because she just did it again; she proved she understands English.  

Thirty five minutes ago--at 2:30 p.m--Iris was supposed to have been on the examining table of the kindly veterinarian named Dr. Henry Skutelsky at the Roncesvalles Animal Clinic. 

Not that there's anything wrong with her. 

She simply doesn't want to go to the doctor and must have heard us mention the exact time of the appointment. She's been AWOL since noon. 

We've depleted the entire come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are repertoire.

I pretended to open a can of soup just to make the can opener sound. 

I shook the catnip treat jar.

course she understands everything you say.
I even lay on the couch and pretended to crack a book. I'm currently three quarters of the way through Agatha Christie, A Very Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley; a surprisingly lively look at the famous crime writer. Dour and prim Christie was most certainly not. I wouldn't be be surprised if, at some point, the same woman who invented Hercule Poirot turned up in a strip poker game in Baton Rouge. But I digress. 

Typically, the moment I plop down on the couch to read, Iris emerges and extends her left front paw to take my attention from whatever it is that's keeping me from petting her. Not today.

We've looked in every open box, bag and container, including the Molson Canadian collapsible zip-up beer cooler. 

First thing I do most mornings is walk into the front room and pull open the window coverings and the zipping sound tells Iris it's time for her morning skritch. Tried that at around 1:20. No luck.

Often, but not today, Iris can be found sitting on the modem upstairs near the TV; Helena thinks it's because the modem's always warm but I believe it's because Iris knows cats belong on the Internet. She wasn't there, either.

LAST LAUGH: Iris always
gets it.
Here's the thing.  I know why she's hiding so well today. 

Back in June Helena and I were having a very non-judgmental cool-headed discussion about the bad old days and what sort of prospects aging housepets back then could look forward to. Or not. 

When I was young, ill dogs and cats were dealt with quite differently than they are today. I think you know what I'm talking about. 

This was a time when nobody ever paid real folding money for a kitten; in fact, frequently, finding homes for them proved quite difficult.

I figure Iris must have been in the room when Helena and I were reminiscing.  

And today she's hiding like she's never hidden before. Can hardly say I blame her.

I'll let you know when she arrives... oh wait, there she is now. 

The cat came back.


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