Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yes, if you haven't heard via my better half over at Mundane Details, it is Rocky's birthday. He is eighteen now, which means we either kick him out of the house or continue feeding him and cleaning his litter box. Eighteen amounts to two or three hundred years old in human years (or something) so we'll keep him around for pity's sake. Mind you, the Little Ditchman won't be so lucky.

According to the official papers, Rocky is a purebred Persian and one heated spring morning in 1989 he was sired by "Smokie" and "Duchess", just the right mix of royalty and scoundrel in my mind. Evidently he was originally listed as a female, and Mrs. Ditchman (who acquired him when she was fourteen!) named him "Roxy". It was only later, at a visit with the veterinarian, that a trained professional would point out the truth of his sex and he would be re-named "Rocky", after the popular movie franchise of the time. This sexual confusion no doubt accounts for the perpetual scowl.

He is deaf as a cinder block, and in my mind this contributes to his longevity. When the Little Ditchman was born it was only Rocky who could sleep easy around the house, getting his daily 22 hours worth. He is good-tempered, friendly, and tolerant, never a glutton and rarely territorial. But he has his limits: let his water dish go dry and he will let you know, regardless the hour of night or day.

When I came in to the house I was the third wheel, and I can now say with rock solid confidence that after five years, I still am. Every night, every single night, there is Rocky in bed with my wife, snuggled in against her head, one paw on her shoulder. She will be fast asleep, and Rocky will be there watching me as I walk in and get ready for bed. I'll brush my teeth and so forth, take off my shirt, and just as I pull back the sheet to slide in to the bed, my bed, Rocky will remind me: Meow -as if to say, You may be married to her, pal, but I was here first. And I will always have been here first. And he's right, of course, so what's a guy gonna do?

For his birthday I gave him a shave. He hated every second of it. I was certain to wear my leather work gloves and Mrs. Ditchman held him down whilst donning the oven mitts, as we didn't want a repeat of last month's poor animal handling mishap. His fur had become pretty matted over the summer and there was just no brushing it out this time. In his old age, we let him traipse through the yard in the afternoon and he enjoys the sun and sniffing around the compost pile, but it's murder on his pelt. Anyhow, shame on me for not trimming him down before the heat wave, but he hogs all the spoon time with the wife -so we're even.

Rocky's a good cat. Never too demanding, let's you know what he wants and then goes and lives his life out of the way. There is the occasional poo-dangler from the unkempt hair around the backside, but I think his owners can be blamed for this and they take on the lion's share of the embarrassment at parties, anyhow. He doesn't like ants in his food dish, has never been known to beg, and never gives in to the lusty debauchery of catnip, though he has acquired a hankering for a nice greasy strip of Charro Chicken once in a while, (thanks to me.) And he'll let you know it if you've been away too long. Like a best friend, he lets you do your own thing, but won't stand for neglect.

Here's to Rocky.