Monday, April 28, 2008

cats, dogs, boys, girls

(Author’s Note: I don’t actually cuss. It's difficult not to when I'm talking with my guy friends, but that's one of those things about being a guy, I guess. I only mention this because I drop an edited “effer” in the story below... but it was not in the presence of any human beings. You’ll see...)

I'm going to spend some time on the next few blogs talking about something I feel very strongly about... how boys are being emasculated by schools, especially school literacy programs (I know, sounds like Christina Hoff Sommers), and how there is this tremendous hole... a void that needs to be filled up on the shelves of bookstores and libraries to bring boys back to reading. This is entirely the reason why I decided to finally send Ghost Medicine out into the world to try to find a publisher.

Guess what my son had to do when he was in fifth grade? Learn how to sew. Guess what I did in fifth grade? I went deer hunting with my dad. I can't sew, though. If something's ripped, I'll just throw it away.

I guess most people think you’re either a dog person or a cat person. I own both. Recently I read something critical of the dogs in Where the Red Fern Grows -- that they had been cruelly turned into soulless, torturing, killing machines. This is a terrific book for boys, by the way, but today schools frown on letting boys read stories that involve such topics as hunting and killing animals.

I own three dogs and three cats. But I am by no stretch of the imagination a “cat person.” And I have never seen more perfect and unstoppable killing machines than domestic cats.

Two days ago, I went out to my garage to get a beer from my very manly beer-only refrigerator. One of my cats, a black one who was born under my bed last Memorial Day, was in the garage. She had a bird in her jaws. She loves to torture and devour any living creature she can get hold of, even (I kid you not) rattlesnakes.

The bird was squawking and crying, just looking at me with its little, pleading, obsidian eyes.

I said, "stupid (insert “effer” here) cat." I really felt bad for the bird, and I was mad at our cat, too... I mean, it's not like we don't feed her. Heck we practically sew for her. But the Red Fern basher argues that cats are nicer than dogs, and cat people (as opposed to dog people) are somehow more refined.

What makes a raccoon so much more evolutionarily desirable than a bird, mouse, rat, gopher, or cricket for that matter?

I have close friends who are vegan. I have seen waiters roll their eyes on numerous occasions when they send back their salads because they’re suspicious the croutons may have been tainted with Parmesan cheese.

I enjoy telling them that tomatoes scream like little birds when you slice into them.

Yesterday, I was upstairs in my office, writing, and I heard that same cry of a bird that had been caught by my cat. I went out the front door, and there was the cat with another bird in her mouth. This time, I took the bird away from her and held it in my hands.

It blinked a few times and then flew off into an oleander.

Okay... so I'm going to talk more about boys and reading coming up...