Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Many Faces of Mr. Tough Pants

One of the pleasures of sharing my life with Bear is that interspersed with his loving and affectionate nature are moments of sheer cat-itude. If I were to guess, he feels the need to assert his independence and prove that no matter how loving he is, he's his own cat. One of my favorite examples: I lay down on the couch where we usually snuggle, I call "Bear!" and he comes tearing into the room . . . until he remembers himself about a foot away from the couch - where he stops abruptly, and his eager face and raised tail turns to a look of nonchalance. He might groom himself a bit . . . look out the window . . . sniff around the front door . . . and in his own time, meander back to where I'm laying on the couch to stare at me for a few minutes before he hops up. You clearly SEE the change in expression . . . from "Oh, I love my Momma! Snuggle time!" to "Wait! I'm a cat! I don't NEED you!" 

Another thing I love about Bear is that his enthusiasm and affectionate personality sometimes conflict with his cat-itude. When Bear acts tough, I can usually pick him up and start petting him . . . and I can tell he's indignant and fighting the purr . . . and again, I see his expressions changing in seconds from love to "leave me alone" and back again . . . but eventually, he'll give in. For all his superficial haughtiness and standoffishness, at heart, he's really a big furry sweetheart. 

And this doesn't even include all the Mr. Tough Pants episodes when he TRIES to provoke a reaction (escaping into the rain and standing there defiantly, DARING me to come get him . . . or when he's about to do something he knows he's not supposed to do, is slightly out of my reach, makes sure I'm watching, and then stares at me defiantly as he sticks his paw in the toaster - or tears up carpet/furniture, etc).

In contrast to these Mr. Tough Pants episodes, when Bear acts tough toward me, around other people or animals, he's terrified to the point of his tail being tucked firmly up against his belly. While I wish he wasn't afraid of everything, I do find it slightly amusing that he can be Mr. Tough Pants toward me because he knows I'm not going to hurt him - while his courage fails him when he's not sure about the result.

Another aspect of Mr. Tough Pants? I'm fascinated by the inner life of cats . . . watching Bear, I assume there's a lot going on in there . . . constant calculation and dialogue with himself. Speculating on this inner life is what many of my conversations with Bear are based on. For instance, in the dialogue below, Bear challenges one of his toys - as if it were really alive and had the power to destroy him. Some times I wonder if he's just bored, so he creates these scenarios where he MUST teach his toys a lesson . . . or if, in his feline brain of constant slights and mistreatments, he really BELIEVES his mousie (or other toy) is giving him dirty looks.

In the end, I love Bear dearly . . . and while I don't lose my temper, there are times when Mr. Tough Pants leaves me feeling frustrated . . . at least for a moment or two (like in the second conversation - which happened exactly as described).

BC: Bear Cat
MK: Momma Kat


Mr. Tough Pants vs. The Teddy Bear (and everything else)
"The Scene"

BC: This is your last chance . . . REPENT, you nasty SINNER!
MK: What the . . . ?
BC: PREPARE to DIE!
MK: Oh, no. Not again . . .
BC: You filthy {BLEEP}! Stop staring at me with that evil gleam in your eyes! I will {BLEEP}ing KILL YOU!
MK: Umm . . . Bear?
BC: This has nothing to do with you . . . stay out of it, woman!
MK: But . . .
BC: The time for importunity and supplications has expired!
MK: . . . the kitchen floor . . .
BC: SILENCE! The teddy bear's fate has been decided by powers much greater than you!
{Pause}
BC: ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! . . . AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
{THUNK}
BC: OOF!
{Pause}
BC: Rats! The kitchen floor is slippery! This is YOUR fault, woman! Why did you not warn me about the perils of the kitchen floor?
MK: I tried to . . . even though you really should remember from last time . . . you can't sprint/pounce on the linoleum and stop on a dime . . . hence you sliding and meeting the wall.
BC: The meeting did NOT go well!
MK: I wouldn't think so. You're all poofed up! Are you okay?
BC: OF COURSE! Do I look like a human weakling?
MK: No . . .
BC: Prepare to die!
MK: WHAT? How's this my fault?!?!
BC: That's right! I see the FEAR in your eyes!
BC: ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
MK: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

BC: . . . AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
{THUNK}
BC: OOF! RATS! I HATE this floor! You devised an evil plot to interfere with my murderous nature! You won't get away with this!
{Pause}
BC: Would you be so kind as to stand over there, on the carpet, so I can dispense with you properly?
MK: Are you calling me on the carpet? Hahaha.

BC: Laugh now . . . for that will be the last that anyone hears from the likes of you!
{Pause}
BC: Just as soon as I finish my nap. Being the furred crusader is hard work!
MK: No kidding! No doubt, small stuffed animals are a formidable foe.
BC: You mock me . . . you gamble with your life . . . as I sit upon the precipice of my fury!
MK: Furry fury? The only thing I see you sitting on is my thesaurus. 
BC: Some times I REALLY hate you.
MK: I love you, Bear.
{Momma gives Bear a kiss between his ears}
BC: MooooooooommmmmmmMMMMAA! Murderous, crusading cats don't DO kisses!
{Pause}
BC: And the nefarious teddy bear is watching! Way to undermine my menacing reputation among the infidels!
MK: He doesn't look very intimidating.
BC: Shows what you know! If I left it up to you, you'd be conquered by all kinds of evil-doers! His mien conveys innocence, but his heart is villainous and cold.
MK: I saw you cuddling with him last night.
BC: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
MK: Ah. So you were sleeping with one eye open to keep him in your sights.
BC: Yes. Bears can't be trusted!
{Pause}
BC: RATS!
MK: It's okay, Bear. I already knew.
BC: But I didn't have to confirm your incrimination! First comes incrimination, then comes DIScrimination.
MK: I'm not sure it's discrimination - I just know better. How about we snuggle and take naps?
BC: Good idea! That way I can keep my eye on you . . . for any of your evil human tricks!
MK: Now you're even staring at me while we sleep? I think I might need some anti-anxiety medication!
BC: I can be that too!
MK: True. I always feel better when you're next to me. I'm not even really sure how I know you're next to me when I'm sleeping, but I always sleep better with you there.
BC: Because you don't trust me!
{Pause}
BC: Doubted in my own kingdom! Another insult I must redress! 
MK: Sleep and snuggles?
BC: And I can exact my revenge for injustices afterward?
MK: Yes.
BC: On the carpet?
MK: Yes.
BC: Can I get some ear rubs too?
MK: Absolutely.
BC: I love you, Momma.
MK: I love you too, Bear.
BC: But don't let that lead to your complacency where I'm concerned. ON GUARD! I will come for revenge!
MK: I expect it.
BC: PURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. You're REALLY good at ear rubs! PURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.


Mr. Tough Pants Goes Outside
MK: {trying to whisper because it's late at night and other people live nearby} BEAR! Get back here! Now's NOT the time to be outside! I'm NOT giving you more treats to come back in!
{Momma waits . . . and waits . . . it starts to rain harder . . . and Bear is hidden somewhere in the dark . . . then Momma gives up and gets the treat bag, mumbling angrily under her breath}
MK: Bear! Inside! I'm shaking the bag! Where are you? Hello?
{Bear runs toward Momma, brakes suddenly, then goes back the way he came}
MK: I saw you come out, look at me with that defiant look in your eyes, and then turn around and go back to your hiding spot! BEAR! I know you hear me!
{Furious treat bag shaking}
{Bear runs to the front door and then stops - without going in}
MK: Oh, no! You have to go inside before you get the treats! I'm not giving them to you outside - for you to dart away when you're done.
BC: Let me think about it {thinking: One potato - two potato - three potato . . . hey, it's raining out here! . . . Awww MAN! Now I'm WET! . . . Now where was I? One potato - two potato . . . Eh. Screw it.}.
{Bear FINALLY runs inside}
BC: Treats, treats, treats, treats!
MK: I am very unhappy with you young man!
BC: {running to his food bowl} And that's my problem HOW?
MK: This is the third serving of treats you've gotten tonight.
BC: No. Technically, the other two were BEFORE midnight - and this one is AFTER midnight - so it doesn't count as the same day.
MK: I DON'T CARE!
BC: Then fork over the treats!
{Momma dumps out some treats}
BC: WAIT! Where are you going? I get treats! That was implied in the bag shaking!
{Bear tails Momma back to the kitchen}
BC: Treats . . . and treats . . . and treats . . . and treats . . .
MK: They're in your bowl!
BC: No, they're not!
MK: Oh, for crying out loud, Bear! They're in there! Stop following me - check out your food bowl - and see!
BC: {still following Momma} Treats . . . and treats . . . and treats . . . and treats . . .
{Momma picks up Bear to carry him back to his food bowl along with frustrated mumbling because the cat is so stubborn}
BC: MROOOOOOOOOOW! PUT ME DOWN! BEAR ABUSE! I HAT . . .
BC: {as his nose picks up the scent of the treats since Momma put him down right in front of his food bowl} OH! Heeeeeelllllllo handsome! TREATS! Nomnomnomnomnomnom.
{Momma walks around for a good five minutes, still muttering angrily under her breath . . . meanwhile, Bear stretches out on the bed with his belly full of treats . . . and falls asleep, leaving no room for Momma}.


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