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(I Can't Get No) Catisfaction
Oct 2002, bvassar
I had to come to terms with my condition to better understand why, after 15 years of devotion to a loving wife, my needs, desires, and aspirations finish dead last in competition with those of her 18 cats.
My Management 101 teacher had spent an entire lecture discussing Maslov's "Hierarchy of Needs" theory that offers some explanation of human relations. Managers who can help employees satisfy their important needs at work will see an increase in productivity. I want our household's "boss" to update her supervisory skills.
My needs are simple: food, water, oxygen, a 33-inch wide-cut lawn mower, security, affection, esteem, appreciation, and confidence in the laws of gravity. Regardless, the basic needs of the cats come first.
Both SCRAPPY and EARL definitely get more oxygen each day than I do. RADAR and SMOKEY get to play, have fun, explore the wonders of the backyard and beyond; I get to clean up if they throw up on the rug. BILL, LICORICE, and GIZMO deposit small mammal carcasses in the middle of the floor and leave them there for me to discard. I have to leave my shoes at the front door as I bring in groceries on a rainy day to avoid the risk of reprisal for tracking mud into the kitchen.
All I really need is peace of mind. Our house has all the bustle and bedlam of a sold-out Russian rock concert. When it’s noisy it’s very noisy, and when it's quiet it only approaches the calm of a championship-winning football team locker room. My wife yells at the cats, I yell at her to ask her if she is yelling at me, she yells at me to be quiet so she can yell at the cats. The cats yell for any number of reasons: the food dishes are empty again; the door to the outside is closed (again); they want to watch the Animal Channel; or they want someone to rub their head. I want my head rubbed too.
I need to know why it is that I can’t spend the entire day asleep on the sofa with my face in the sun and get her to smile at me like she smiles at ONYX, SHADOW, and EBONY. I want to know how can she justify spending a fortune on the latest high-tech advanced-clumping-system cat litter (now with wonder wheat and sodium bicarbonate) and only buy single-ply generic toilet paper for our bathroom. I want someone to explain to me how cats are allowed to scratch the sofa in the family room until the outside upholstery is worn to slivers, but I have to sit on the floor just to make sure that I don’t stain the fabric. I don’t want anything more than equal treatment; there must be someone willing to interpret the Constitution in my favor.
I knew I was in trouble when I overheard her conversation with the veterinarian in which she described GOLLUM and ZANE as the two alpha males in the house. I once encouraged smiles to reveal themselves on her face, but now, whenever BERT and ERNIE chase frogs through the garden, her rumbling laughter makes me feel like she doesn’t know I have a pulse. I do exist! I have photographs to prove it. Of course there is no room to display those pictures, because all the albums are filled with pictures of CURLEY SUE, SLATE and LADY JANE.
Luckily for me, RASCAL, a long time ago offered to put together a 12-step plan for me. I meet with her twice a week after her mid-afternoon nap, and while we never actually speak, there have been volumes of truth shared between us. I know that when she looks at me with total disregard, she is actually helping me see my place in the world more clearly. Isn’t that what they teach you to do in school; to "know thyself?" She and I have worked out a system of nonverbal communication that I find even appropriate for use when I am speaking with people. For example, in the middle of my explorations to find my inner truth, RASCAL will often turn her back and lick her private parts. While I am not yet fully committed to this technique, I can see that it could definitely change the way I am viewed by others. RASCAL is good to me.
Lastly, I need my wife to understand that my path to self-actualization goes down a road that is blocked by her 18 cats. She has told me on many occasions that until I understand that her cats are my cats, that all of our paths are intertwined and mapped to each other, it will be useless to imagine that my standing will ever change. I guess her words are meant to somehow help me attain closure on the current state of affairs in my life. After all, if everyone in my house by not recognizing me - recognizes that I don’t count for much doesn’t that count for something?
Byron Vassar is a 53-year-old full-time graduate student living in Florida. He and his wife of 15 years have five children and eight grandchildren. He enjoys writing, music, and bowling.Got feedback on this page? Share it with the moocat!
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