Meeting of the Minds
Part of the Berkel Series
By Jon Frangipane
On the Discovery Channel one night, our local animal shelter ran an advertisement about a big pet sale going on the following Saturday. On the screen was this older man with a little pussycat in his arms saying, “Hi folks, you can’t believe how much joy and happiness this little pussycat has brought into my life. And now my headaches are all gone, my arthritis is all gone. And I’m feeling like a young kid again!”
In a feeble attempt to cure my loneliness through the years, I had purchased a baby iguana, then a lovebird that flew the coop, tropical fish that I usually found floating motionless in their tank every morning, and, in desperation, an ant farm. Well, maybe I could feel like a young kid again if I just head on down to that animal shelter this next Saturday, I thought. Maybe I could find some joy and happiness that’s been missing from my life for so long.
That Saturday, as I perused every nook and cranny of the shelter, I found not a single animal that I thought could bring me joy and happiness. Exasperated, I finally asked a young teenage girl volunteer, “Do you happen to have any barkless dogs here, you know, dogs that don’t bark?”
“Is that supposed to be funny?” she replied.
“No,” I answered, “but between this huge crowd and barking dogs, the cacophony makes it difficult to think straight.”
“Well, just don’t think straight at all, just follow your heart,” she said.
Maybe this was all a bad idea, I thought. As I came across the very last room, I was going to follow my heart. It was dark and gloomy, and the only sound was coming from television broadcasting the Discovery Channel.
As I entered the room, I thought I heard someone’s voice, but there was no one to be seen. Again, I heard a little voice and I thought it said, “Please choose me. Please choose me!” As I approached the very last cage, a fuzzy paw was sticking out of the cage, waving wildly and a voice crying, “Please save me!”
I thought I was losing my mind, but I answered, “Where are you?”
The little voice said, “Hey, mister, over here in the last cage!”
“But you are talking. Cats are not supposed to talk!” I cried. Then I looked around to see if anyone was watching me converse with the cat.
“My name is Berkel. All I do is watch television all day. Just get me out of this dump.”
“Just tell me, Berkel, how in the world did you learn to speak perfect English?”
“All I know is that Judy, the young volunteer helper who noticed me getting very depressed from not being adopted, started to put double doses of catnip in my supper every night, thinking that would lift my spirits.
“So, you think overdosing on catnip may have triggered something in your brain?”
“It must have been that catnip and watching the Discovery Channel day and night I guess.” In one swift move, Berkel began licking his butt.
“Must you do that now? I asked.
“I’ll only be a minute. Just needed to freshen up a bit.”
Whether Berkel’s catnip overdose caused the speaking miracle, we will never know, but this was a great opportunity to have a pet cat, not only to bring me joy and happiness, but one to converse with and discuss world affairs.
Berkel has been with me about a year now and spends much of his time watching the Discovery Channel, as well as “Googling” on the computer. For some reason, his small brain has the ability to store a huge amount of information that now includes science, astro-physics, astrology, medicine, ancient history and only God knows what else. Often, during our discussions, I find myself at a loss for words.
Jon Frangipane is a pianist and composer and former editor/publisher of the Lighthouse Point Magazine. He also co-facilitated the Fort Lauderdale Writers’ Group with writer/publisher Krista Martinelli. Also he owns a tennis racket.