Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The White Knights

"More?" I asked retossing the salad in the kitchen. 
"Please," Mr. Wonderful said seated at the table. As I strode toward him with the salad bowl Jackson plopped on the floor in front of me stopping me in my tracks.
"I guess he wants salad, too."

Funny things had been happening since Jackson had gone for an accidental swim in our pool: 1) His coat got cleaned; 2) His fur turned as soft as silk and; 3) He became nice. The bratty and emotionally bruised kitty that we had taken in when no one else would, had--after one dunk in the pool--become a loving house pet. 

We should have tossed him in the drink months ago.

When he was overboard in the deep end, we came to rescue him. When he was dripping wet, I rubbed him dry with fluffy bath towels. When he was soaked and looked hairless and hilarious (!), we did not laugh. Too much. These things had made a sea change--or pool change--in our cat's attitude about us. 

To be fair Jackson had been warming up to us lately, specifically since our trip to Seattle. It was a simple six-day trip and a needed break for Mr. Wonderful and me. While we were perusing the Space Needle and coffee shops of the city where Frazier was set, Jackson was doing what he normally did--sleeping 72 hours a day. Nevertheless, we'd arranged with Harold and Norma to feed and water our kitty while we were away.  

When we returned full of stories of Washington wines and "Frazier Crane" sightings, Norma hurried over to our house with her brows knitted together and her blue eyes looking pained. 
"We fed your cat all week," she said biting her lip "but I'm afraid he's… gone." 
"No, we just saw him--sleeping in the spare bedroom." 
"Oh thank goodness!" she said grabbing my arm for support. "I thought we'd lost him!"
"No, he's right where we left him." 
"We came in the house every day to feed him but I never saw him." 
"That's his normal. He's not fond of people. Us included," I said explaining the odd psychology of our house pet. 
"Oh," she said sympathy oozing from her pores for us.

Once Norma had left the house, Jackson slunk out from his hiding place, he rubbed up against my legs, circling them then stopped to stand with his paw on my foot, then he repeated the dance with Mr. Wonderful and his foot. At the time it seemed to me that during those six days of our absence Jackson feared that we were gone and he would be on his own. Again. Then it must have hit him that he would miss us playing the ribbon and the stick game with him, miss us petting him, miss our bodies being furniture for him to lounge all over like a polka-dotted feather boa.

However this pool experience was different. After it, he'd become outright affectionate. Purring, wanting to be petted at many and various times of the day, holding my hand. (Okay that last one is a stretch, but he does put his paw on my hand now!) It reminds me of what they call the "White Knight Syndrome", which is when a rescued person falls in love with the person who rescued him. Perhaps we were Jackson's White Knights? Perhaps he now knew that we were his White Knights? And perhaps he knew that we knew that he knew that we were his White Knights?

Regardless, the White Knight Syndrome must have started while we were in Seattle when he realized that he'd miss us if we never came back and he lived on without us. Meanwhile while in the pool struggling for one of his nine lives, maybe Jackson realized that this time he could be the one to go and never come back; that we'd continue fixing up this house, drinking wine and coping with the neighbors but Jackson just… wouldn't. Following this realization through--if cats could do this--and since cats in videos can get 16 million views on youtube, I think they can do more than we give them credit for. Anyway, following this realization through, meant that Jackson wouldn't get any more petting or playing or catnip-induced good times racing around the kitchen.

I think his realizations after his dunk in the pool caused Jackson to die a little inside. But it also caused him to live and love a little more, too. Now he seemed to embrace living and interacting with us, which was a good thing. Or at least he stopped being a pain in the neck for his White Knights, which was a great thing.

Any way you look at it, water helped. Yep, we should have tossed him in the drink months ago. Ah, live and learn!

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