Passions of a Wannabe
Berkel and Me
Conversations with a psycho-neurotic cat
By Jon Frangipane
It was a Saturday morning. I had just finished playing two exhausting sets of tennis in ninety-degree weather and thought I’d sit down for a minute. The game hadn’t gone well and I was trying to shake off the disappointment. Soon, I began dozing in my chair when my right arm suddenly swung around involuntarily. I thought I was back on the tennis court and swinging at that illusive little yellow sphere: the tennis ball. It seems Berkel had been sitting on my lap because I heard a deafening screech.
“You almost killed me, you maniac,” he said.
“I must have been dreaming of that ball I missed on the court,” I replied.
“You’re missing a few screws, if you ask me.”
“Well, I didn’t ask you, now did I, Berkel? Why don’t you just curl up in that corner over there?”
“Do you mine if I offer a suggestion? said Berkel.
“If it will shut you up,” I answered.
“Why don’t you play checkers with me, instead. We can sit in our nice air-conditioned house. You don’t have to sweat like a pig and bark like a dog. We can have some nice, cool mint ice tea and you won’t be a miserable dog all day.
“Checkers!” I exclaimed. “What kind of passion can anyone possibly have for checkers?
“What kind of passion could anyone have for hitting a ball that never goes where you want it to go? Berkel asks with a smirk.
“If you’d only think about it, tennis is a metaphor for life itself.”
“Yes, really. I know it’s hard for you to comprehend this because, after all, you are merely a cat. You see it’s this way. You do the planning the night before, and then get up in the morning knowing exactly what you’re going to do for the entire day. And soon you find that no matter how well you plan, almost nothing goes as you expect it to. And it’s practically the same thing that happens on the tennis court when you swing your racquet, expecting the ball to go over the net, but just as in life, the ball may go over the fence, instead. Now you see the comparison clearly?”
“If you already know that nothing you plan is going to go as you plan it, why would someone of your questionable intelligence bother planning anything? Why do you even bother playing tennis?” Why do you even bother getting out of bed? Berkel persists.
“I guess a cat wouldn’t know what passion is, expect for maybe for the passion for sleeping 18 hours a day.”
“That’s hitting below the belt. You see, my passion runs much deeper, more complex, more ethereal… more cerebral,” replied the cat.
“Oh, you mean the stupid way you act when I give you catnip?”
“Maybe you forget it’s the overdose of catnip I get that enables me to have our conversations.”
“So it really boils down to having a druggie pussycat?”
“All I know is that I know what I am and who I am. I don’t have these wild fantasies about being someone I’ll never be. I’m a cat who knows he’s well-adjusted, knows his limitations and happens to be happy with whom he is. You’ll have to excuse me, now, it’s time for my nap.”
“See what I mean? Your passion is like balloon with a slow leak. Like a bird with no wings. Like a sky without stars. Like a lawyer without a BMW. Like a…”
“Oh, I get it. Like a tennis player without a can of balls?” Berkel replies.
“I get the feeling you’re mocking me, you four-legged ball of fuzz.”
“I get the feeling you’re right, you two-legged ball of fat.”
“Truce! It’s time for a truce, before I spew forth some nasty thoughts about you that are rolling around in my head, like if I pay the vet, would he agree to waterboard my cat?
“Be my guest and spew forth. I like when you spew forth.”
“Okay, listen! Can you possibly imagine what Debussy or Beethovan’s music would be like if they were devoid of a burning passion to create the greatest music? No you can’t. Can you imagine what Picasso or Leonardo DiVinci’s paintings would look like if they had no burning passion when painting the world’s most marvelous creations? No you can’t. Can you imagine what Pepe Le Pew would be doing today if he didn’t have a burning passion to be the greatest actor in history?”
“Pepe Le Pew, that’s who.”
“They say to never bite the hand that feeds you, and although I’m famished at the moment, I find it very difficult not to bite your hand off at the wrist right now, but you see the Pepe Le Pew you refer to was a fictional character in the Looney Tunes series decades ago. Actually Pepe Le Pew’s character was a lecherous French anthropomorphic skunk with a somewhat malodorous scent. Have you been taking your medicine?”
“Oh, so sorry, my error! I must be getting my Pepes mixed up. I haven’t been taking my Ginko Biloba lately. Neurotransmitters are so important in remembering things, don’t you think, Berkel?”
“Yea, especially when one grows as old as you.”
“Having passion has nothing to do with age, Berkel. It’s a gift you’re born with. You either have it, or you don’t.”
“Well, if you’re any example, I’ll pass, thank you!
Copyright © 2008 Jon Frangipane, Revised 2015