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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chuck Gets Faked Out - The French Way

The kid never seems to stop thinking. Or plotting may be the best word. After our little jaunt to Deauville, where Chuck impressed the girls with his “mussel opening” trick, Bob and I decided to do something for ourselves--or so we thought. I wanted to see Giverny--the luscious place where Monet had lived and painted and been inspired to do some of his loveliest impressionistic paintings.

I had no idea, whatsoever, that Chuck was into Monet.

Sure, I have Monet prints hanging around my house, but who expects a rascally cat like Chuck to notice, who seems to be more in tuned to watching Jersey Shore or the Kardashians on TV?

Well, he had noticed, and it seemed Chucky boy had been harboring a secret wish to see some of these paintings in person.

Now if you have ever been to Giverny, you know what a mob scene it can be. Tourists galore cram the place--milling about the beautiful grounds--admiring Monet’s gardens, the waterlily pond, and especially his house. Everyone wants to go inside the house and see how the great painter lived.

And Chuck had heard that Monet had one room completely filled with tons of his paintings. That’s the room that Chuck wanted to see.

Now this wasn’t going to be easy because as in most touristy places--NO CATS WERE ALLOWED. I would have to be super sneaky if Chuck was going to be able to stick his head out of my shoulder bag and see anything!

Of course, as soon as we arrived, we headed straight for the house. Chuck would have it no other way. Up the front steps and through the center hallway. He had no interest in seeing the kitchen or the exquisitely decorated dining room. And he was very squirmy, a bit pissed off that he had to keep his head hidden when if he were a dog, he could have most likely trotted into the house and barked his head off, and no one would have said a word. Yes, it is true. In France, the French people love their dogs and take them everywhere with them--drugstores, restaurants, etc. But that’s another story.

Anyway, here we were hurrying through Monet’s house because Chuck seemed about to burst inside my bag when we finally made it into the “painting” room. Strange, but I expected to see guards with machine guns or heavy guns at the door to the room. There were guards all right, but they stood around holding cell phones, with a kind of bored expression on their faces, as if they didn’t much care if someone stole one of the paintings.

Chuck peeked out and from that first instant, was mesmerized. I had to keep moving around the room, of course, and I felt sorry for the kid. He just wanted to stop and stare at one painting after another, as if he could get lost inside the picture. He seemed truly awestruck that he was face to face with a genuine Monet.

A stranger tapped me on the shoulder. “What you got there, a cat?”

I nodded. “He’s really into Monet.”

“Nice,” he said, reaching out his hand to try and pet Chuck, which was not such a smart idea. Chuck wouldn’t bite him or anything, but when Chuck is into something, he doesn’t like to be interfered with.

“He’s impressed,” I said to this total stranger. “You see, he’s never seen a real Monet before.”

The stranger laughed. “Yeah, right.”

Instantly, I detected something was wrong.

“Real Monet, you say? Is that what this little guy thinks?”

Chuck whirled around at that moment, and you could see it in his eyes. He knew something was up. He knew something terrible was about to be said. His bubble was about to be burst.

The stranger said, “These aren’t real Monets.”

I gulped.

Then he waved his arm around the room, as if he needed to further illustrate his point. “I mean look. Do you see any armed guards anywhere? If these paintings were real, we’d be talking millions of dollars.”

I heard a sniffle coming from my shoulder bag. Poor Chuck, I thought.

The stranger reeled in on me. “You should be ashamed of yourself for deceiving this poor little guy. Letting him think he’s looking at the genuine article. These are all reproductions. Can you say that word, little guy? Reproductions.”

But Chuck had no intention of saying anything. He snarled, then disappeared like a puff of French cigarette smoke into my bag.

I stepped back away from the stranger and made a bee-line for the door. “Sorry, Chuck. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

And I thought back to what my husband had said back in Deauville--that it was humiliating that we, no I, was no smarter than a cat.

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