This creature found me one cold and wet fall evening in 2008 at a Border’s Bookstore in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Two days earlier I had posted the deep philosophical question, “Lunar Euphoria needs a kitten?” as my status message on Myspace. Little did I know then that I had just summoned my familiar.
I had recently moved to Tulsa with my niece for a job as a visiting professor. I’d left Georgie, my previous familiar of 21 years, with my husband in Memphis. Georgie hadn’t been doing so well and I didn’t want to stress him out by confining him to a car for six hours and forcing a new habitat on him in the short time he had left.
Here comes a tangent on euthanasia. Some people probably thought I should have put Georgie “to sleep” in his condition, but so far in this life, I have not managed to be the sort of peaceful and gentle liar who can do that sort of thing to a pet or family member. First of all, it would be impossible for me to go around saying, “I had to put my cat to sleep” in sorrowful tones because it’s an absurd and untruthful thing to say. Nobody HAS to pay to have a trained professional kill their beloved pet. I am the sort of person who would have to tell people the truth about the sordid affair: “I hired a hit man to assassinate my cat.” But then people would look at me weird and that would make me tired. Beyond that issue, there is something else that gets in the way of me participating in these mercy killings. For some unfathomable reason I feel compelled to stand by and watch as time and age ravages my beloved beings into cruel and unrecognizable forms. Nature will take its ugly course; I will quietly stand by and bear witness to It. I do not delight in this cruelty, but it is something that must be endured. “If you cannot love the pain, you can at least love the lessons it teaches” (Andrew Davidson). I do respectfully acknowledge that others may have a different set of opinions and priorities on the matter. Someday I may too, but for now, though it may not be pretty, this mine.
Enough of all that. To recap the important points here: I was distressed about Georgie’s impending death, I was feeling guilty for abandoning him, but didn’t feel it was right either to force a new place on him, and I missed having a kitty companion. So I was sitting out in my car waiting for my barista niece to get off her shift at the Border’s Café in Tulsa, when I heard the poor, hungry kitten yowling out her misery. The niece nabbed the kitten on her way out the door, and home we went.
Upon closer inspection, the furry little urchin had fleas and a perpetual stench. Most of the fleas left with a good shampooing, but the smell lingered for several days. The niece diagnosed the problem as a case of “Stank Ear,” though I thought maybe the kitten was stinky because of her habit of lying in the litter box.
I didn’t really expect to keep the orphan, but she’s still with me and her name is LeLeLeLeLeLe Yip. But I call her Yip for short.