Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kissing Daisy - the Giraffe

     Chuck’s promise to give up wine did not last long. He loves his milk.  What cat doesn’t.  And he’s also a little too partial to Bloody Mary’s.  Hey, I’ve seen the “belly boy” down two or three glasses in a sitting, lapping them up from his designated bowl before I had a chance to say--whoa, boy.  But that’s another story for another day. 
     A while ago Bob and I decided to fly around the world to Africa, to Kenya, to be exact and go on a safari.  I had this idea in my head that I wanted to see giraffes up close and personal.  Now, if you ask me, they are the most beautiful of all the wild creatures roaming the plains.  Tall and elegant.  Good natured.  But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would have the unique opportunity to kiss one. 
     Now, I could blame Chuck.   After all, when someone offers you a chance to do the unthinkable, common sense usually intrudes.   And I am a sensible person.  I could say--if it weren’t for Chuck, I never would have kissed that giraffe.  
     Let me tell you the story and let you decide.
     Bob and I were in Nairobi visiting a giraffe sanctuary.  Now we don’t have giraffe sanctuaries here in the states, but in Kenya, these places are very popular.  They are unique habitats where giraffes live in semi-wild places, protected  environments, which mimic a giraffe’s own natural habitat.  But with the added benefit that naturalists, etc. can study the giraffe, and visitors (this is where I come in) can see and interact with them.  The sanctuaries offer the usual gift shop (believe it or not), but they also offer a large platform that visitors can stand on which enables them to be eye to eye with the giraffes who are frolicking out in the field. 
    So imagine many visitors on this platform and then suddenly everyone leaves to go to the gift shop.  But Bob and I and Chuck, who is hidden in my smart bag, stay behind because I just love giraffes and I have no interest in the gift shop.  Suddenly, one of the attendants asks--quite out of the blue-- “Would you like to kiss a giraffe?”  
     The idea is so preposterous sounding, I immediately say no.  Of course not.  I cannot even imagine it.  First of all, even though they are beautiful, their heads are gigantic and when you are as close to them as I am, a bit scary.   And second of all, although I have been feeding them, giraffes have the longest and slimiest of tongues that I have ever seen.  Pitch black.   And they seem to move like lightning.
     We lure the giraffes from the fields with the promise of food.  Small pellets which we hold in our hands.  The giraffes lap them off our palms or nibble them from our fingers.  So I have felt that tongue on my hands and fingers.  
     Kiss a giraffe?
     “Are you sure?” the attendant asks again.   
     Now this is where Chuck comes in because he is poking his head out of the bag and he gives me that Chuck look which I know all too well.   That disappointed look.  He would like to see me kiss a giraffe.  Make his day!
     “Well, what would I have to do?”
     Now the attendant gets excited.  “It is so easy,” he says.  “Put a pellet of food between your lips.  Like this.”  He demonstrates.  “Then Daisy will come up and remove the pellet.  Her lips will touch yours.”
     Ah, I realize, that will be the kiss.
     “Do not worry, giraffes have the cleanest mouths on the plains,” he says to reassure me.
     “Do it,” Chuck whispers.  
      OMG.  Do I dare?  I finger the pellet of food and then place it gingerly between my lips.  My knees are shaking.  And my hands.  I glance over at Daisy.  She is mooning about, waiting for more food. 
     “Now lean over so she can see you have food,” the attendant directs.
     I hesitate.  
     “Chicken,” Chuck meows.
     I lean over the rail, and Daisy swoops in.  I ram shut my eyes, petrified, aware only of what is about to happen.  I expect to be slobbered, but I am so wrong.  Her lips are like a gentle wind as they touch mine and extract the pellet.   
     When it is over, I smile from ear to ear.  
     I have kissed a giraffe.   Her name is Daisy.
     Chuck smiles too.  
     I think I am in love.
     So what do you think?  Should I have kissed that giraffe????


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