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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Stare

If cats live at your house, you've maybe experienced it yourself. You're sitting at the kitchen table enjoying something wonderful -- pats of creamery butter melting on ears of fresh corn or mounds of sweet whipped cream adorning a generous slice of pumpkin pie or even just sugared milk swirling around in your breakfast oatmeal. You savor the flavors and aromas, and drift off into a euphoric dream.

Then you feel it. It's sort of uncomfortable. Intrusive. Like someone is watching you. You turn your head from side to side. Nothing. You turn completely around as much as you can to look behind you. Nothing. Suddenly a cat-sized furry shape leaps up from the floor on your right side, sits in the middle of the table, and stares at your food. The Stare!

Most cats wait patiently until you are finished, or a sweep of your hand will push a moist nose out of your food until you are done eating. But there is always The Stare. The Stare isn't to the left or to the right. Or up. It's only down at your plate of food. Unmoving head. Eyes watching every scoop of the spoon or fork, every cut of the meat. Implacable. Unapologetic. Like a sphinx. Waiting. Finally you are finished eating, and the little head plunges downward onto the plate or into the bowl, no permission sought, to lick up the meat bits and juices or white sauce or cheese and butter drippings or sugary milk from the oatmeal.

Rasputin was a sucker for beef from Arby's or a Chicago chain called Portillo's. Thomas Jefferson would swoon over the alfredo sauce in Lean Cuisine's Chicken Fettuccini or congealing egg yolk from fried eggs over easy. Dido, like Rasputin, seems to prefer tender beef, but also pieces of cooked chicken or turkey, melted butter, ricotta cheese, and, along with Kuro, sweetened milk after son Daniel finishes a bowl of Cheerios or Frosted Flakes. Shy Deborah (later renamed Mattie) has yet to figure out that plate cleaning is going on.

You do notice, don't you, that no cat does The Stare in hopes we open a can of Fancy Feast, 9 Lives, or Friskies?