Cat Calls

A quest for her Dear Pussy brings perspective to one activist about President Obama’s promises.

By Sally Sheklaw

CatCallsOur cat got out last night. Balmy summer evenings must be the call of the kitty-wild to Dear Pussy (not her real name).

Wifey and I took turns calling her from out the front door and then the back. She ignored our coaxing. Maybe you heard us—or some other equally desperate cat owner—stage-whisper, hissing into the past-bedtime darkness, “Psss-psss-psss, kitty kitty kitty, psss-psss-psss!”

Wifey, who has to get up for work earlier than I do, abandoned hope and went to bed. I was too worried to join her. (Talk about a threat to the sanctity of marriage!)

Dear Pussy vs. the sharp claws of night-roving raccoons. After-hours speeders not even watching for cop cars, let alone a black and white of a much smaller scale. A mouse in rat-poisoned death throes posing as a midnight snack. You name it, I worried about it. This must be how my poor parents felt during my incorrigible high school years, while they waited up, frantic, all those nights when I was out doing “nothing.”

I pushed the screen door open and tried again. I psss-psss-psssed for all I was worth. No kitty. Also no snarling raccoons. Or screeching tires. Or toxic wretching. Thank God(dess.)

I’d have to stay up until Dear Pussy came home—or turned up as road kill, God(dess) forbid. I was too anxious to sleep. I switched on the late edition of The Rachel Maddow Show. My favorite commentator’s brilliant news analysis might lessen my cat-astrophizing.

Rachel reminded viewers that our president has yet to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (trans-inclusive), overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or undo the Defense of Marriage Act. Then, in all her Rhodes Scholar dykey handsomeness (drool, drool), Rachel ended her show and bid me goodnight. I clicked off the TV and barefooted onto the back deck.

I called out over the railing, “Psss-psss-psss, kitty kitty kitty, psss-psss-psss.”


Not a sign of Dear Pussy.

While I waited for the pitter patter of little kitty paws, I stood under the starry sky and wondered, Is our president straying from his campaign promises? Can Obama supporters coax him back? Are my president and my cat beyond retrieval? Do I still have the audacity of hope?

I settled into a deck chair and looked for the big dipper, the “drinking gourd” underground railroaders followed to freedom. I was trying to imagine Harriet Tubman’s night terrors when Dear Pussy came prancing up the back steps as if it had just occurred to her that she’d prefer to spend the night in the comfort and safety of her own home with the people who pet her and groom her, buy expensive organic kibble, pay the vet bills and provide cushy furniture—not that I’m resentful.

Dear Pussy trotted right past me with a What-Me-Worry? look on her furry little face, scampered through the door and curled up in her spot on our comfy sofa (aka the homo-sectional).

I lingered on the deck. A shimmering moon rose over the rooftops. I took in the soft night air scented with jasmine, nicotiana, and heliotrope. If Dear Pussy had come in when Wifey and I first called her, I’d have missed this quiet, sweet-smelling, moonlit moment. If Obama had made good on his word the moment he got into office, we’d have missed an awful lot of strategic organizing and heartfelt community building. But enough already. Time to come
on home.

The neighborhood was utterly quiet—all except for the distant, soft, harmonic rasp of a train whistle. That, and some other poor shmo in some other backyard calling,“Heeeeeeeeere kittykittykitty-kitty!” into the night.

Award-winning writer Sally Sheklow lives with Wifey (not her real name) and Dear Pussy (not her real name) in Eugene, Oregon.


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