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, May 6, 2012

Chuck POSES at the Museum of Natural History

       My rascal cat Chuckster is an anomaly.

       He likes to meet other animals.

       When we were in France, I suspect he fell in love with a French cow.

       And in Vienna, Austria, he gave me no peace until he’d stared into the eyes of an orangutan.  

       Once we arrived back in the states, we took a quick jaunt to Washington, D.C., and ever mindful of Chuck’s education, I was eager to take the kid to the National Museum of Natural History.

       Yes, this was my idea because I’d been there before and I thought that Chuckie would get the biggest kick out of their stuffed animal exhibit.

       What was I thinking?

       But I’m getting ahead of myself because this adventure was fraught with challenges.

       If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s a gigantic place--two floors filled with 124 million objects.  Everywhere you’re surrounded by eager tourists struggling to get somewhere else or see something else.  Bodies push and shove their way past you.  There are food lines.  There are lines to get into the the various exhibits, and even though the museum itself is free, there is usually a line to enter into the place past security. 

       Mad house?

       But, of course, it’s worth every aggravating minute.  

       And I was determined to smuggle Chuckie into the museum and show him this exhibit which I’d seen for the first time myself the year before.  

       The animals look so real.  They are coifed and posed.  Magnificent.  

       As we walked to the museum from our hotel, I tried to explain the concept to my rascal cat.  “These animals look real but they aren’t.  Not like you.  They are fake.  So there’s no need to be afraid.”

       When Chuck is trying to figure something out, his cat eyes become enlarged, and he tends to tilt his head sideways.  I could only imagine what he was thinking.

       And, yes, I do believe that cats can think.  Or plot and scheme.

       He had that very expression on his face.  

       “No, there aren’t any cats on exhibit.  We’re talking big game animals here.  For example, the giraffe.  The monkey.  Safari animals.” 

       I had his attention all right.  

       But the kid looked nervous.

       And he’s not a fan of having to stay all scrunched up in my smart bag.

       Chuckie likes to go places where he can pop out of my bag and run around. 

       Let’s face it, his Top Ten List of places to go does not include--M-U-S-E-U-M-S.  But, I figured, this place was special and not at all typical. 

       We snuck into the place.  Surprisingly, that wasn’t a problem.  (I can’t explain why Chuckie glided through the metal detector and the scanner and wasn’t detected. Or, maybe he was, and the guys that do the detecting couldn’t believe what they were seeing--an orange and white overweight cat stuffed into someone’s smart bag?)

       Rather than press our luck, we scooted to the stuffed animal exhibit.  

       Then I figured our success lay in the timing.  Wait until the exhibit was near deserted then I would let Chuck out to see “up close and personal” the animals on display.  

       Bob volunteered to be the “look out,” and he stood at the end of the long hallway that stretches through the exhibit with the animals.   

       Finally Bob gave the signal, and out popped Chuck.  And he stopped.  Clearly mesmerized, he scanned the animals on display.  

       And this is where the “belly boy” surprised me.

       Chuck wasn’t interested in the elephant or the giraffe, or even the leopard who was posed near his prey. Oh, no.  Without hesitation, Chuck did his best imitation of a moonwalk toward the bat.  Which means--he walked very slowly.  And he proceeded to stare at him.  

       Now, you don’t see bats on display everyday, I grant you that. 

       Then Chuck did something even more amazing.  

       Taking his cue from the animals around him, he POSED.

       He stuck his nose forward.  His tail went rigid.  He put himself into a kind of hunting pose.  Very focused.  As if he were competing.  

       I reached into my smart bag for my camera.  

       This was just too good to be true.

       Chuck POSING at the National Museum of Natural History.

       I aimed my camera and was about to click when . . .

       Bob let out a whistle.

       Chuck heard the signal.

       I, of course, was too enticed with the idea of capturing the rascal cat on my digital camera to display for the rest of the world . . . for my blog . . .to even think about what Bob was trying to tell me . . . warn me about . . .

       But, unfortunately, there wasn’t time to even click the shot.   

       “Kate, c’mon.  People are coming,” Bob shouted down the hallway at the very moment that Chuck dropped the POSE.  

       Gosh darn.

       I whipped open my smart bag as lots of voices resounded in the hallway.

       Chuck hopped back in.

       The moment was forever lost. 

       Gee, but the memory was sweet.



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