Thursday, January 3, 2013

Roommates, Or Don't Touch Me If You Value Your Eyeballs

This is Cleo, my roomate. 

Simply Put, Cleo is the queen of the world. The world of my apartment at least. It’s really her apartment actually- she just allows me to live there, and pay rent.

Like me, Cleo has a set routine. She waits to come to bed until I have put the rats away, set aside my book, and turned off the light. She waits for me to stop squirming around, rolling this way and that, trying to get comfortable. She waits until I’ve finally settled down, and I’m just about to drift off. Then I feel her tongue on my cheek, or perhaps my arm, and I hear her purr. And I must wake myself, and pet her- or face the consequences. I’m not allowed to touch Cleo unless she gives me permission first. Any attempt to pet her without an invite is a bad idea. Likewise, refusing to pet her when she asks for it is a bad idea.

Cleo with her "I may be asleep, but i'm still watching you, so don't touch me if you value your fingers" face. Prints available here:

So no matter how tired I am, I sit up for a bit, and pet her until she bites me (which is her signal for “stop now if you value your eyeballs”) It’s like the NowWhattian boghogs from the planet of NowWhat. (For all of you non-Sci-Fi nerds out there, this is a reference from Douglas Adams  book Mostly Harmless, the fifth book of the series The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.) Now, the boghogs of NowWhat communicate by biting each other very hard on the thigh- the left one I think. Cleo has similar aspects in her language- though there is no specific body part involved in communication- the nearest available bit of flesh will do. While biting seems to be Cleo’s go-to form of communication, there are other aspects as well. She uses cute little meows, and lots of body language as well. She communicates quite effectively with me, a fact that never ceases to astound me. I think animals are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. I don’t communicate near as effectively with Cleo as she does with me- or I suppose, she only cares to understand me when I am telling her something she wants to hear, which is a definite possibility.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t always do as she would like. Each night, after petting her too long, and receiving a nice bite for my troubles, I go back to sleep and Cleo curls up on my pillow, right atop my head. More often than not, Cleo ends up with the whole pillow, and I have to resort to using my secondary pillow, which I keep between my knees. Once these territorial disputes are settled, we both fall asleep, until we are both woken by my alarm. Now, on numerous occasions Cleo’s bed (my pillow) has lain between the shrieking alarm and I. Sleepy, and quite unaware of my surroundings, I reach for the snooze button, unknowingly brush past Cleo, and WHAM!!! Cat Attack. Now, a cat leaping up, hackles raised, and sinking her teeth into your arm is a sure fire way to wake up in the morning. On Cat Attack mornings, there’s no more snooze button pushin’ for me.

I’m still trying to figure out how to market this. Just think about it. Everyone has those days (some more than others) where, half asleep, they push the snooze button a few too many times, resulting in a late morning. If everyone had a Cat Attack alarm system, no one would ever be late to work again.

However, Cleo isn’t always a very reliable snooze button deterrent. I don’t always manage to irritate her upon waking. Take last Wednesday for example. As usual, Cleo took up residence at the top of my pillow, and pretty soon she had it all, and I was left pillow less, curled up in the bottom half of the bed. However, when I woke, I discovered that at some point during the night I had reclaimed my pillow again. I also realized that I had woken up by myself, as I could not hear the alarm clock. I was really excited, I was feeling awake, and I was going to have extra time to paint before work. Then I realized I actually could hear my alarm (sc-fi tone wooo-weeee wooooo-wooooo). I looked around, and realized it was coming from Cleo.

Apparently after I had re-claimed the pillow, she had taken up residence atop my i-pod, which is also my alarm clock. Now, as it turns out, alarms don’t penetrate cats very well. As it also turns out, sleeping cats don’t really like it when you reach under them to retrieve an i-pod. Ouch. Wounded, sleepy, and quite shocked, I retreated to the opposite corner of my bed, warily eyeing the vicious hissing beast with raised hackles. Then, she sat back down, began to purr and meowed with a confidence that said, “I’m the cutest thing in the world, pet me. Pet me now.”

Now satisfied that the beast had retreated, and that Cleo was once again a cute little kitty cat, I looked down at the hard won I-pod to discover that not only had I not woken up early, but forty minutes late. 

Cleo with her "all hail the Queen of the World" Face. Prints available here:

So, it’s safe to say that Cleo and I have our rows, but we are roommates after all. And no matter how angry she gets at me, she’s still there beside me every morning when I wake up.

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