In some ways cats are like little boys. When Chuck first heard about the Cyclops--that mythical creature who captured Ulysses and trapped him in a cave until he devised a way to escape--my rascal cat became enthralled with the idea of a Cyclops. He wanted to know more. He wanted to see a real Cyclops. And when I explained that Cyclops didn’t exist anymore--that he was part of ancient lore--he wanted to see where he had lived.
Which meant that after we trekked up Mt. Etna to see the flowing lava underneath the earth, we took a side trip to a small but beautiful town called Accitrezza in Sicily. According to myth, this is where the Cyclops lived. Near the sea. This is where Ulysses met him and this is where the cave sat where Ulysses was imprisoned.
Chuck knew the entire story.
He’d heard the tale of the Cyclops, the creature who had only one eye in the middle of his head. He knew that Ulysses and his men had finally escaped imprisonment by flinging rocks at that eye and blinding the Cyclops. That’s why we had traveled to Accitrezza--to see the boulders in the sea--the same boulders that Ulysses and his men had thrown on that fateful day when they had hurled them through the air at the Cyclops and regained their freedom.
When Chuck and I arrived on the spot, we stood there in awe and fascination. Sure enough, if you stand on the shore’s edge, you can clearly see the boulders. Thousands of years later, you can still see them resting there as a testament to the cunning and the brute strength of Ulysses’ men.
“Okay, then,” I said to the Chuckster. “Now you’ve seen the boulders. You know the story. I know you’re impressed. What do you say to a nice gelato at that store over there.” I pointed behind us to a nice mom and pop gelateria.
But Chuck did not glance behind. He waited, perched like a bird on a rock, staring into the sea, at those boulders.
This was not a good sign.
I know the Chuckster.
When he puts his mind to something, he is rarely dissuaded.
“What is it, Chuck?”
Now, of course, cats can’t talk, but this cat of mine always seems to find a way to let me know exactly what he wants. I crouched next to him and followed his line of sight. He was staring directly at those boulders. That’s when I felt sick. I had to hope he wasn’t thinking that he could somehow leap onto one of those treacherous rocks. For what reason, I didn’t know, but it was such a Chuck thing to do.
And sure enough, the moment the thought popped into my head, I could see his hind legs bounce as if that was exactly what he was thinking.
“NO!” No, you don”t, I thought as I grabbed hold of him. If he jumped out there, all I could imagine was him being swept away by a wave and that would be the end of Chuck and my weekly blogging.
When I reached hold of him, I seemed to break him out of some kind of trance. Or did I break him out of the siren’s call?
I held him close.
“Let’s go get that gelato,” I finally said.
Later that evening, back in our hotel, I caught Chuck in his usual meditative position--on his back, his paws curled forward, eyes closed, but just as I went to snap the photo, his eyes shot open.
What was he thinking about--Ulysses and the Cyclops?
The kid needs more adventure in his life . . . or more girls.