A conversation with Higgins

Blackie Sherrod of the Dallas Morning News once wrote an article about ‘mind-reading computers’ that might one day become realistic. He proposed, however, that before using them to read people’s minds that they first be tested on dogs. Now I think Blackie has a good idea there-‘but where he would test that computer on dogs’I would liked to have tested it our cat Higgins who lived with us most of his lifetime. I wished for such a computer when Higgins would sit in front of me and stare so long that I decided he was trying to tell me something. Not having the ability to read his mind, I would ask, ‘What’s your problem’ (Now for those of you who don’t like cats, I suggest that you turn to the dog story that might occupy another page. However, if you like cats, but are a bit doubtful that the following conversation took place, then I ask you to just “play like it did,” and in that way, you might get to thinking that two people are talking). Well sir, that cat would just sit there and continued to stare until I figured that perhaps I should listen real closely (just like I do with my flowers), and sure enough, it seemed that I heard him say, ‘Bill, why have you been neglecting me’ You haven’t written anything about me in months, and I am afraid my public is forgetting me.’ ‘Well, to tell you the truth,’ I said, ‘ it is doubtful that you have much of a following left.’ ‘Man,’ said he, ‘you certainly know how to hurt a fellow’but why do you say that’ After all you wrote all of those stories about me and the SPCA of Texas published them in the form of a journal didn’t they’ ‘Yes, that is all very true,’ I replied, ‘but if you remember correctly, that journal didn’t make much of a splash.’ ‘Oh well’ he retorted, ‘I think the reason it didn’t sell well was the price. Hellsfire, as you would say, people in this part of the country are not going to pay $10 to read the story about a dang cat-‘and besides that’you had already published it in the Brady Standard. Heck, they might sell some of those journals you have on hand if you offered them for $5. So why don’t you write another article about me and let people know that I am still around. Upon thinking this over, I decided living with a cat was perhaps a great deal like living with a woman’if you are going to get along with’em you have to let’em have their own way (most of the time). Based on that thinking, the following verbiage is an attempt to pay homage to that cat. *** It has been said that, to be successful in the United States, one must speak English. I take issue with that statement because I have positive proof that it is not true, and, I have no doubt that before I have finished with this tale there will be many of you who will agree with me that, even though the hero of this story could not speak one word of English, he was highly successful in his field.The hero of this bit of fiction, of course, was none other than our cat, Higgins, and his field of endeavor was the management of the household at 1300 S. Wall, where he served as Lord of the Manor through most of his lifetime. And, he accomplished this job, mind you, without being able to speak one word of English. Shucks, that cat couldn’t even understand English much less speak it. Alma and I tried to teach him English, and he, in turn, has tried to get us to understand cat talk, and, as you might guess, neither was successful. While cat language seems easy enough to talk or mimic, my efforts at conversing with Higgins through the use of m-e-o-w-s was as big a failure as my comprehension of his meows when he spoke to me. My wife, who was the slave and centerfold of Higgins’ life, insisted that I quit trying to understand his language and pay more attention to what his eyes and his actions are saying. She had a good point there, for I often note that Higgins was quite vociferous in his demands for attention when he slaps the paper out of her hands. His actions are saying in this instance, ‘I want something, dammit!’ and when she says, ‘What is it you want Higgins’ his eyes and voice are demanding that she get up and follow him to the kitchen. In most instances, he is wanting food, and I could hear Alma say, ‘Now Higgins, there is plenty of food in your dish,’ but he kept saying, ‘Come show me, come show me,’ until finally she goes with him and points to his full dish of food. Now that she has done this, he seems to be satisfied and starts eating. Many times we found that he would not eat food from his dish when it had a bald spot in the center of his plate, which I suppose made him think we were feeding him leftovers. So he would come in and complains until his slave goes to the kitchen and covers the bald spot with the food that is already in his plate. Once this is done, he quits complaining and starts eating. Higgins became very fond of eating people food. There were many occasions at mealtime when he would stand beside me at the table, and resting his front feet on my leg, look over into my plate to see what I was eating. Then, he would look at me with those beautiful blue eyes that seem to say, ‘Hey feller, that stuff smells good-‘would you consider sharing a little with me’ He would go slap dab crazy when Alma opened a can of tuna’and chicken!! Great glory to heaven’that cat could have lived on chicken. And, here I might say, that his aunt, Glee, who looked after him in our absence and is a pushover for pets, was a dominant factor in causing his obsession for chicken. For once that dear lady and spoiler of cats learned that Higgins loved chicken, she would feed it to him every time we were gone, thereby causing us to have to listen to his demands for chicken every day upon our return home. While Higgins did have the same attributes as most cats, there was one outstanding feline characteristic he did not possess and that was the ability to purr. While this trait alone put him in a field to himself, the fact that he was also lacking in the usual inclination to play adds emphasis to the fact that he was indeed ‘a different breed of cat.’ Oh, there were times when he might get interested in an empty sack lying on the floor. And it is here that the natural instinct and curiosity of a cat forces him to discover what is in the end of that sack. But on the whole, Higgins was a very demure individual (I say individual instead of cat because Higgins looked upon himself as a people) who tends to his own business and only caters to we humans when he wants something, whether it be food or TLC. So, when you get right down to it, I would say that even though he ‘no talkee English,’ Higgins was quite successful during his reign as lord and master of a Wall Street household. Bill Bodenhamer is a weekly columnist for the Brady Standard- Herald. Email him at bodenhamer@cebridge.net.

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