I wiggle my feet a lot. It’s just a little habit I have. I rarely even notice when I’m doing it. It’s also genetic, apparently. One afternoon at a family get-together my half-first cousin, once removed, (yeah) noticed this and exclaimed, “Ooh, look! You’ve got the Brasher Feet, too!”
The other component of Brasher Feet is we don’t like them to be under the covers much. They dangle out over the side of the bed and peek out from under blankets. I do this, my mother did it, and so did my grandmother, who on her deathbed would wiggle her feet out from under the covers despite the best efforts of the nurses that tucked them in.
Last week my wiggly Brasher Feet helped to set in motion Watson’s Big Adventure.
A wiggling foot is Watson’s greatest temptation, and my poor feet have borne the brunt of his attacks. Many times I never realize I’m even wiggling my feet until I feel Watson’s claws sink into me. This began to happen so much I became paranoid, making sure to hide my feet under the covers and checking for stalking cats under the bed the same way young children check for monsters. The only difference is my monsters are real.
In order to curtail the feet attacks, we began to let Watson explore the main part of the basement at night so my feet and I could sleep in peace. Watson got to climb on top of our cars like a mountain lion and my feet got to wiggle without fear. It was a decent solution.
Last Saturday was Lydia’s birthday party. It went as parties usually do — many people, lots of food, paper, presents, and commotion everywhere. Watson just camped out in our bedroom to wait for the bedlam to subside.
The next day we were preparing to go out when Steven said to me, “Hey, have you seen Watson?”
“Well, no . . .”
After a quick search it was clear that Watson was M.I.A. The basement door to the back yard was wide open, a leftover bit of turmoil from the party. Watson’s nightly basement visit turned into something a bit more adventurous.
Outside, there was no sign of Watson, and there wasn’t much we could do. He’s a black cat, no collar, no microchip, no discernible features whatsoever except for a longish tail and a penchant for attacking feet. Surely he’ll come home when he’s hungry, we hoped, and we went on with our lives.
But what if he doesn’t come back? What if there’s another cat hanging around outside the house? A very territorial cat that would keep Watson at bay? Why would we worry about such a specific thing?
Well . . .
I need to tell y’all about Crunchy.
Our neighborhood has its fair share of stray cats, and over the years a few of them have tried to adopt us. Recently, a pretty tortoiseshell cat we dubbed ‘Minerva’ came pretty close, but she was very skittish. One day she was scared away in a flying fit of fur by a tiny black cat who was much more brave, and this one let me pet it.
“Oooh, he feels crunchy,” I remarked, so Crunchy he became. Soon we realized he was adopting us. You’d step outside — there was Crunchy. You’d sit down — Crunchy was in your lap. Touch the doorknob on the back door — Crunchy would come running. Within the week we took him by the vet’s to have his shots and get the ol’ snip-snip.
Since Crunchy showed up we have not seen hide nor hair of Minerva, so we were afraid Crunchy would prevent Watson from coming back to the house as well.
So . . .
When Watson disappeared, we brought Crunchy inside. It was the logical thing to do. And Crunchy LOVED IT. He loved exploring all the rooms. He loved lounging on all the furniture. He loved getting all the cuddles and pets from the kids. And he loved, loved, LOVED to sleep on my face at night. Crunchy is like a little fuzzy face-hugger alien that purrs.
And all the while we kept Crunchy inside while trying not to absolutely fall in love with him, there was no sign of Watson. I called for him every once in a while. We kept the garage door cracked open. I made posts on various pages on Facebook, imploring people to keep an eye out for a nondescript black cat.
I didn’t worry. I couldn’t worry; there was nothing more I could do. And as I didn’t worry, I began to feel guilty for not worrying. In the mix of all that guilt and not-worrying, I began to worry and feel unsettled. We were in cat limbo. It’s not a fun place to be.
This morning I shuffled into the kitchen to get my blessed cup of coffee. I glanced out the back door to gauge the damage after the thunderstorm from the night before and was surprised to see two scared yellow eyes staring back at me. The eyes, and the black cat they belonged to, ducked in and out from under the grill. Looking back on that moment, I am reminded of one of my favorite videos of all time.
Yes, it was Watson! Though at first I wasn’t entirely sure, and he looked like he wasn’t entirely sure, either. He slowly crept up to me while repeating a high-pitched squeaky meow. He had a wide-eyed look, as if he had truly seen some shit and was ready to be an inside cat once again. Crunchy was quickly shuffled off to a bedroom while Watson alternated between his food bowl (EAT!) and us (LOVE AND PETS!).
After a while, Watson settled down on our bed to sleep, Crunchy was popped back outside, and we began our day as planned.
It’s the afternoon now and we’re back home after a long day of life. Usually in the afternoons you can find Watson lazily sleeping on our bed, but when we got home he was nowhere to be found. As I put up my bags I looked around while thinking, “Okay, he has GOT to be in this house somewhere. The doors are shut; there’s nowhere for him to go.” Lydia eventually found him under the bed, and that is where he still is. The Great Big Outside must not have agreed with him at all and he has seen some things that cannot be unseen.
I’m kinda hoping he attacks my wiggly feet tonight. That will let me know he’s feeling okay.