Life Alone With Myrtle

I was watching The Rainmaker last night, being blown away by the sorrow that greed rains down on people…as well as the inescapable parallel to the definitely pathetic so-called leadership in America.

I got up from my reclined position on the sofa to refill my dinner wine – just kidding, I had lasagna, wine was just the side dish…and dessert – and had this little obstacle to navigate around.

Heading in to the kitchen:Heading back to the couch:

I’d like to think she takes an interest in my doings, but really I know she was just on the lookout for bonus treats.

I told her she’d just had dinner, so no treats.

Going on, I chided her that given the similarities in our body types and supine positions, “Y’know, Myrt, the only real difference between us is this wine glass”.

As clearly unimpressed as Myrtle was with that comparison – her inscrutable gaze seemed to say, “I make it look good” – the brief interaction made me grin. She’s not the warmest of beings, but coming up on three years together, at least we’ve reached a point in our relationship where she’s no longer overtly hostile toward me.

She still makes attack runs at my ankles, but they are…playful?

She still sits and scratches at doors she wants open versus closed. I can count on three such acts occurring in some combination between the linen closet, utility room or coat closet each evening.

She’s still mental is all I’m saying. Just calmer.

And at three years, it’s settled into a pretty nice – using that word loosely – cohabitation. My favorite part being sleeping together at night.

Myrtle spends a good chunk of her day sleeping on the bed. Probably she sleeps about 16 hours a day, which includes my nightly struggle.

Whether my night consists of four hours or seven, she’s usually there with me for most of it. Tolerating my intrusion into her bed.

Frankly, it’s my favorite part of sleeping, having her join me. Sometimes she sleeps at the foot of the bed – I’m a restless sleeper. Others, she’ll snuggle up to my lower leg and a couple times a week, she’ll even nest between my legs.

There’s actually three stages of sharing a bed with Myrtle.

Stage One is my bedtime. Usually, she’s already there and I have to ease myself into a position that is fairly comfortable for me without disturbing her. I’m not always successful with this and sometimes she will leave the bed in protest.

Regardless of my success, she’ll usually hop down at some point. At the very least, she’ll get up with me if I wake up to pee.

She expects a treat. She expects one every time I get out of the bed…like it’s a reward for her not killing me in my sleep.

Stage Two is when she comes back to bed after her treat. I’ll usually lay on my back with a pillow over my face, legs crossed at the ankle or in a figure 4 with one ankle under the opposite knee. She comes back on her own timetable after patrolling the house and maybe playing or dispatching and insects that need killing.

In true unstable Myrtle fashion, she walks into the room – claws clicking on the cork flooring – and instead of jumping on the bed by the door, walks around the bed <click,click,click> and jumps up at the head of the bed. I think she does this strictly to terrify me. The anticipation building until she pounces onto the bed inches from my head.

Now you know why it’s covered by a pillow.

That brief terror is all part of the routine as she reminds me of my place in our relationship. Then she will spend some time picking out her spot, either against my leg or between them. Regardless, my favorite part of every night is when I feel her weight settle in against my body. I smile every time, regardless of how awake/asleep I am.

More than once during this Phase Two, her timing has been around the same time I decide I want a drink of water. I’ll roll over into my stomach and reach over to the nightstand for my glass, propping myself up on my elbows.

<pounce>

Myrtle will settle between my legs as I’m on my elbows and stomach, sipping. Having instantly become settled, Myrtle will meet any disturbance with…prejudice.

This leaves me with two choices: disgruntled feline or making the most of it. Usually, I will pull pillows up under my torso until I am some sort of strange pyramid. Then try to sleep.

She’s for sure the boss.

At some point, I’ll move. This will drive Myrtle out of her nest and she’ll go prowl for a while. Sometimes I’ll be awake and just lay in bed reading, other times I’ll fall back to sleep.

Stage Three is when she comes back to bed for the final time for her pre-breakfast nap.

<click,click,click>

If I’m reading, she’ll definitely crawl onto my crossed legs and stretch out. If I’m not already reading, this is my wake up call and she’ll settle in at the foot of the bed until I get up. She’s nice enough to let me read a little while I wake up.

I think she’s just playing the odds that my old brain will forget whether she had a “midnight” snack or not. Regardless, when I get up she hops onto the table and perches in Snack Pose. If I don’t fall for it and serve her breakfast, she regards me with a look that expresses how disappointed she is in my lack of trainability. Eventually she jumps off her perch and checks out the kibble before finding a spot in the sun for her morning catnap.

It’s a fairly terrifying relationship with moments that I intentionally mistake for affection. But it’s still the most functional relationship I’ve had in the last five years. Having a cat like Myrtle has significantly curbed my desire to date, since what I tend to find in Portland are broken and lost boys.

At least the shit she gives me is literal and flushable instead of emotional and semi-permanent.

I’ll take that trade off.

Life Alone With Myrtle

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