Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Well-Dressed Cat: An Essay on Style and Sensitivity

This is Rhubarb, a Well-Dressed Cat. Rhubarb’s real name is Lord Randall Smythe Marjoriebanks and the question of why he is being referred to as a vegetable is constantly perplexing to him. Perhaps this nickname, Rhubarb, has been assigned to him because of his bittersweet personality and the tendency of the fruit to wake people up at 5:07, 5:09, 5:11, 5:12, 5:19, 5:26 every single morning by jumping on their bed and meowing loudly, but he still finds it a shocking affront and hopes that if he never answers to the name, it will fall into disuse.

Lord Randall Smythe Marjoriebanks patently ignoring the photographer.

Lord Marjoriebanks never allows himself to be seen in his dressing-gown; he consistently goes about in the silk-lined tuxedo with the starched shirt, gloves, and breeches that give him such a trim appearance. He finds that this modish yet dignified clothing goes over just as well when he is hunting mice in meadows and dashing across the street in front of enormous dump trucks as when he is enjoying cocktails in the city.

Inclement weather sometimes forces Lord Randall Smythe Marjoriebanks to cancel evening plans.

His Lordship is often disappointed by the quality of service his people provide at home. Sometimes he has to use his stentorian meow for ten whole minutes before his people realize that his food dish is not completely full and cannot, thus, be eaten from. He hates it when the other cats leave evidence that they all feed from the same bowl; his mother always told him it was an ignominy to share dinnerware.

Lord Randall Smythe Marjoriebanks out of temper because of the poor presentation of his supper.

If you find that his exacting behavior and raffishly crooked jaw, a war wound which popular myth says was dealt to Lord Marjoriebanks by Napoleon, make him seem heroically formidable, you may not wish to be disillusioned by the knowledge that while he will not answer to Rhubarb, he does come to the door when he hears the sound of a fork banging on a can of cat food. Not to mention that when he is very sleepy he likes his ears to be scratched.

Lord Randall Smythe Marjoriebanks at rest.

Nevertheless, he would wish you to know that it is still true that he will creep across your sleeping body to meow in your face every morning at 5:07 and 5:09 and 5:11 and 5:12 and 5:19 and 5:26 . . . If Lord Randall Smythe Marjoriebanks is never indolent, neither should you be.

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