Following college I experienced a period of what I call "Well, now what?"
My father, however, lovingly calls it "That time when you just wouldn't leave." After a few months of subtle suggestions such as "Get off your butt and get a job" and the fact that he started placing my meals outside, I got the hint. I'm perceptive like that.
I found a job my father approved of as it met his only requirement - the job was somewhere else. I was finally out on my own. This wasn't an easy period, as I now entered the "real world" and soon would learn I didn't really care for it. I needed somebody to share in my misery. So I got a cat (Cringer, named after He-Man's talking feline friend before he turned it into Battle Cat). Little did I know he would present me a list of rules that I would have to abide by if we were going to be roommates.
Here are his rules:
Rule #1: All cups should be in the "down" position. Who knows what you're keeping in there. There could be treats! For me! Even though there is never treats in there, I know the one time I leave a glass standing there are going to be thousands of treats in there, even though I'm a cat and don't know how many "thousands" are!
Rule #2: Check to see if I have been fed recently. And by "recently" I mean in the last six minutes. My bowl needs to be constantly full or else I will make sounds like I am dying and you are the worst pet owner ever. I'll make this easy: if my bowl is empty, feed me. If my bowl is full, feed me.
Rule #3: Because I deserve to be fed at such frequent intervals I don't feel like your sleeping should get in the way. Consequently, I will remind you I am hungry during the dead of night in two fun-filled ways.
Fun food reminder #1: "Murderer Sounds" I will rattle and twist the doorknob throughout the night, making it sound like a burglar is trying vehemently to get in and kidnap you. What a fun game! If I can't sleep because I'm hungry, neither will you.
Fun food reminder #2: "Toilet Cymbals" The second part of "wake up and feed me" game is my personal favorite. When my attempts to scare you awake by rattling the door handle fail, I will head butt the door battering-ram style before cursing you out and making for the bathroom. Here I will shove my face between the toilet lid and the base, pause a moment before jerking it out quickly, causing the lid to make a loud and hilarious clang. How many measures of toilet cymbals I play is entirely up to you.
Side note: Please do not try and get "payback" by waking me up when I'm napping. This is not amusing. And, really, I don't comprehend "payback." You see, I'm a cat.
Rule #5: Cuddling: Listen, we're dudes. Don't pick me up and put me in your lap. That's not how I roll. It's uncomfortable, a little frightening and just plain weird. However when it's my idea, it will be sweet and right and true. Even when you think you have to go somewhere, I will change your mind and you will pet and love me. You're kind of a sucker. I could probably get you to do anything I want. Dance for me, monkey.
Rule #6: I should probably warn you that despite all of my persistence and experiments in human sleep deprivation that I'll sometimes throw up the food you just fed me, just for the heck of it. After I do that you will need to feed me again.
Rule #7: One of my most favorite things is what I call Extreme Sitting. In this game, I will sit on anything you put on the floor, couch, chair or that counter thing that you apparently don't want me to jump up on but I do anyway. This includes keyboards, remote controls board games and important documents you're working on. Just for fun I might try and bite these items. They could be food in disguise.
Rule #8: Sacks and laundry baskets are probably the best things ever. Those babies need to be sat in, if nothing else than to prevent them from floating away! I can't believe I'm the only one that sits in them. You don't know what you're missing. Whatever, dude. More sitting goodness for me.
Rule #9: Finally, I find you utterly disgusting. You go several hours without bathing yourself. This simply will not do. I will take it upon myself to make you less repulsive by trying to compulsively groom you despite your attempts to push me away. Don't you think it was a little coincidental that you got a girlfriend - who incidentally agreed to marry you - only while I was around? You're welcome.
You can thank me by feeding me.
This classic column was originally published May 16, 2010. Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via whale song. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny or he'll take all the batteries out of your remotes.