lion :: commoner

Martin Lawrence embraces the life of a celebrity. He’s well-groomed, dines on the finest cuisine and has the most comprehensive health plan. Life is good, especially when you’re the king. The trouble is, this Martin Lawrence is neither a Hollywood comedic lion nor the shining star of the movie “Bad Boys.” This Martin, our Martin is a cat. He just doesn’t know it.

I have to admit that I have sent Martin mixed messages since rescuing him from the shelter. Reflecting on some of my over-indulgences, I see where I may have blurred the line between human and feline family members.

On one of Martin’s routine vet checks, I got a warning. Since Martin is a white cat who likes to sit in the sunlight – inside the door, that is – he is more susceptible to getting skin cancer. I had specific instructions to find lick-proof sunscreen for his nose and ears. I frantically searched for this product unfamiliar even to pet store employees. But, I was on a mission to beat any rapidly multiplying carcinoma, imagined or real. I finally found a suitable product, and had it shipped—from Belgium. Whew. Close call.

I also left this appointment with a plastic toothbrush and toothpaste to keep Martin’s gingivitis at bay. What I wasn’t told was that the phrase, “It tastes just like chicken,” doesn’t apply to cats. Nobody mentioned that the poultry-flavored toothpaste wouldn’t be enough of a selling point to coax Martin from under the bed. I certainly didn’t get the tip that maintaining Martin’s oral hygiene could become disruptive to my life. I had to learn that on my own, after arriving late for an appointment.

“I’m sorry I’m late. I was brushing my cat’s teeth,” I matter-of-factly explained to my friend.

The look I got said it all. Apparently not everyone is willing to go to the ends of the earth (or under the bed) for their pets’ healthy gums. Imagine that.

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protector :: aggressor

I am awestruck by their flight formation.

Other than that, I have never been particularly interested in birds — that is, until one landed on my head.

That day I parked the car in the driveway the way I had done hundreds of times. But this time when I stepped out of the car, I felt my hair twist and lift. I awkwardly swatted the air and looked around for the invisible hit-and-run perpetrator.

Then I spotted the long tail and gray slender body. She stood guard on the roof of the garage and stared at me — the perceived threat between her and her young ‘uns that I just realized were chirping behind me.

Birds don’t…couldn’t be.

I shrugged it off and walked into the house.

When I stepped out of the car the next day, I listened for chirping, the signal that the feathered baby sitter was near.  I looked for her on the roof, on the neighbor’s roof, across the street on the mailbox, in the trees.

She might camouflage herself to look like a leaf. It could happen.

Although I couldn’t see her, I sensed her presence. She had succeeded in making me paranoid and I hated the control she had over me.

I got all the way down the walkway to the steps of the front porch when I felt the familiar twist on the back of my head. This attack was from behind and much more calculated.

I will not tolerate this.

It was then that I learned her name. Mimus polyglottos, the many-tongued mimic. Mockingbird. Mom. I hated her and revered her at the same time.

The person who answered at the Animal Control hotline advised me to wait two weeks until the fledglings grew up. At that time, my problems would flap away on the wings of their new skill set.

“Well, can I move her nest?” I asked.

Not a chance. It turns out that Mama Mockingbird and other songstresses are protected. It would be against the law for me to touch her nest. I suddenly felt sorry for pigeons. These second-class bird citizens were considered a nuisance and could be “taken care of.”

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