Our younger cat Harris is an odd one; since kittenhood he has been amenable to baths and water experiences most cats fear and loathe (a blog search regarding the infamous toilet-bath administered by Nels revealed the entirely unrelated but equally infamous piss-in-a-cup-while-inside-the-van, a performance Nels repeated after his Christmas concert last Wednesday. I smiled innocently at parents exiting the church as I poured steaming urine out the van window onto the rain-soaked ground). When we take a bath Harris likes to be there up on the bath ledge, purring and accepting drips of water and stroking from wet hands. Recently he’s taken to crouching down and dipping a long paw (his front right one in fact) into the water, about four inches down, and carefully cupping the water to his mouth to drink).
Tonight as Nels and I take a bath Harris eventually moves back to the floor next to us. “Here you go, water-swiper,” Nels says as he leans forward and puts a container full of water on the floor (a large yogurt container; it’s what we use to help rinse the kids’ hair after a wash). The cat drinks and drinks and drinks.
“He wants to sip your breasts,” Nels says (my son’s parlance for breastfeeding).
“There’s no more milk in my breasts,” I tell him, thinking with a bit of regret that it’s going on three years since since this was the case.
“You should drink some milk to fill these up,” he says, gently patting me.
“That’s not how it works,” I reply. I explain it to him briefly – I’d need to have a baby. “Well Harris is going to be your baby,” my son responds. I repress the involuntary shudder. Before I can reply Nels says conversationally, “When I grow up to be a girl I will nurse him. But I’m kind of scared to nurse a cat because it might bite my nipples off.”
I turn my head to the left to meet my cat’s unnerving stare, inches from my face. It’s a bit eerie and at first I can’t think why; then I realize his head is level with mine and he’s looking directly, almost threateningly, into my eyes No blinking, no looking away. I have heard the old myth that cats suck breath from infants; perhaps they want something of more sustenance from adult females.
Tonight as I pen (or type) my blog entry Nels emerges from the tub and decides to redecorate the tree: like the scene from Elf he vaults halfway up the noble fir in an attempt to secure a candy cane. Then he’s back at my desk, climbing over me to grab a piece of technology Ralph secured from the college’s library. I take it back from him: “You can play with this after you put on some underwear.” I am nothing if not creative at bribing the savage spirit.
The weird thing is I’m sure the camcorder, candy cane, and nudity are all part of some Master Plan of my son’s; I’m just not always willing to let him carry this stuff out.