Berkel and Me
Conversations with a psycho-neurotic cat
By Jon Frangipane
It’s late on a hot Friday afternoon. I can’t wait to flip off my shoes and take a cold shower.
As I entered the house, I saw Berkel in the back living room, swiping at the patio door blinds with his paw, trying to catch a lizard on the other side of the glass.
“Won’t you ever wise up, Berkel? That lizard happens to be outside the window.”
“I’m just protecting our property from intruders. It’s a jungle out there!” he exclaimed.
As I get nearer the living room, I notice a little package on the carpet.
“What’s this I see on my carpet? I asked.
“Looks like a hairball to me,” Berkel replied.
“Well, I know what it is,” I said.
“Then why did you ask me? You seem to be so oblivious to the obvious,” Berkel shot back.
“I go searching for the best cat food that money can buy, with a money-back guarantee to stop hairballs – and what do you do?
“Have another hairball?” said Berkel, smiling.
My pulse quickened. I felt a vein protruding from my right temple, and Berkel noticed.
“I think I see a vein protruding from your right temple,” Berkel offered with a smirk.
This happens to be the only cat in captivity that can smile, smirk and also sneer.
“Wipe that smirk off your face, if you know what’s good for you!”
“That’s not a smirk. I have a bad taste in my mouth from throwing up that hairball.
“If I ever see you throw up another hairball, I swear, I’m going to…”
“Clean it up, like you always do and, will continue to do until I’m dead,” Berkel retorted.
“Don’t put any ideas in my head, my dear feline friend.”
“Ideas in your head would be a revolutionary achievement, my dear humanoid friend.
I am now so enraged, I feel like I’m going to pass out. “You think you can pull a fast one on me and push me around?” I screamed.
“Life is push, friend. Life is pull. Push, pull, push, pull. Big deal!
Not only was my heart now palpitating like a jungle war drum, but the vein in my right temple was throbbing like a dozen hydraulic presses. Suddenly a case of restless leg syndrome seemed to be returning, after years of extensive treatment.
Berkel noticed. “Looks like your restless leg syndrome has returned,” Berkel informed me, gleefully.
“Thanks to you, I’ll probably be spending this weekend in therapy.”
“Really no need to thank me. I devote my life in helping people.”
“I had big plans to see Doris tonight, and now look what you did to my leg. It’s jumping uncontrollably.”
“You can say that again,” Berkel grinned.
“How very blessed I am that this creature has come into my life,” I mumbled. Berkel heard me.
“Well, since our particular species is blessed with special hearing abilities, I was able to hear you mumble that you are very blessed that this creature, meaning me, has come into your life. May I just say that I’m so very humbled by your mumble?
“Oh! So your making a mockery out of this whole hairball thing, aren’t you? And I had plans to surprise you and mix real tuna fish in with your dry food this evening.”
“I told you I don’t eat tuna from Thailand.”
“It’s from Cambodia, not Thailand.”
“Oh well, in that case, I’ll have two portions.
“Berkel, this may come as a shock to you, but I’d like you to know that your pomposity is only exceeded by your animosity. Do you realize that fact, Berkel?”
“Not until you just brought it to my attention.”
“So, what do you have to say to that?” I asked.
Berkel was looking at a fly on the patio window. I think I’ve finally stopped this flippant, fanatical fur ball in his tracks. He turned his head 180 degrees and replied, “This may come as a shock to you, old man, but it was John F. Kennedy who clearly stated that ‘It’s not what your cat can do for you, it’s what you can do for your cat!’”
I was in no mood to be beaten by a four-legged braggart. “You know, when I went to the animal pound to pick out a companion, I really got a whole lot more than I asked for.”
Berkel first stuck his tongue out and then replied, “When you picked me up at the pound, I happen to get a whole lot less than I asked for, so let’s not cry over spilt milk, idiomatically speaking.”
At this point I become thoroughly non-plussed and felt like I was in suspended animation.
Berkel noticed. “You appear to be in some sort of, pardon the expression, catatonic state. Can I possibly offer up a fresh hairball, old man?
“Thanks, but no thanks, Berkel. I seem to have lost my appetite for your crass form of jocularity this evening.”
“Well, maybe we can have another semi-friendly chat later on this evening, after we watch some Seinfeld reruns,” Berkel suggested.
“Yes, that would be such great fun. I can hardly wait.”