Baptizing My Cats

Another weekend with the in-laws ends on a sour note as the question is again raised, once the Agnostic-Rastafarian in the family (that’s me) steps outside to load the car, why our children aren’t baptized.

mary

For some reason this discussion always takes place when I’m out of earshot and can’t participate.  I think it’s because of my reputation as boy theologian, the kid who received a little plastic statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary every year in grade school for the highest score in Catechism class.  That kind of street cred scares off church-goers who worry more about what to wear to Sunday service than the parable of the lilies of the field (Matthew 6: 28) would suggest is proper.

“The kids are grown–it’s their choice,” I say when the uncomfortable discussion is relayed to me once we’re on the road.

“I know, but it’s really important to my parents,” my wife says.

“Do you think it would help if we baptized the cats?” I ask, trying to think of some way to heal the rift that I’m blamed for causing.

“Why on earth do you think that would help?”

“Well, that way they’d know you’d have company when you get to heaven, since I’m not going to be there.”

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“I don’t think that’s the solution, but I know you’re going to do whatever you want, so don’t mind me.”

We drove on in silence, but as soon as we got home I broached the subject to our two male cats, Okie–a grey tabby–and Rocco, a black-and-white “tuxedo” cat.  “Grandma and Grandpa think you can’t get into heaven unless you’re baptized,” I explained.  “Would you guys be interested?”

“Is the cat food better in heaven?” Okie asked.

“It can’t be any worse than that low-cal Iams crap they feed us here,” Rocco said out of the side of his mouth.

“Everything’s supposed to be perfect up there, so I’d say yeah, it will probably be an upgrade,” I say.

“So we’re talking ‘wet’ catfood for once–like every other cat in the freaking universe gets?” Rocco asks with more than a trace of bitterness.

“Yes,” I say.

“Okay, I’m up for it,” Okie says.  He’s gotten by on his dashing good looks his whole life, and as a result his critical thinking skills are–shall we say–underdeveloped.

“You maybe ought to ask him what’s involved in this ‘baptism’ ritual everybody thinks is so important,” Rocco said, as he lifted one leg and licked at the spot where his balls used to be.

Rocco
Rocco: “You can’t be serious.”

 

I was silent for a minute; Okie stared off into the middle distance, profoundly incurious.  Rocco gave me a look like I was a chipmunk peeking its head out of our stone wall and asked–“Well?”

“Let’s just say it involves water,” I said, trying to keep things vague.

“How much water?” Rocco asked.

“Depends.  Could be a little on the forehead, could be what the Southern Baptists call ‘full immersion.’”

cat1
“I’m a martyr for my faith–or lack thereof.”

 

“What do those words mean?” Okie asked.  Every now and then he shows a spark of intellectual curiosity.  About as often as Halley’s Comet comes around.

“It means I’d dunk you under water and hold you there while I repeated some religious mumbo-jumbo.”

“You’d let me up–right?” he asked nervously.

“Don’t worry–I was baptized Catholic, it’s the lower orders of the Protestants who are the real wing-nuts.”

“So that would involve?”

“Just a little moisture on the forehead and you’re good to go.”

“I’m in!” Okie said as he ran to the laundry room sink, the one he knows from past experience he can drink from without getting in too much trouble.

“How about you?” I ask Rocco, who’s been taking all this in with a gimlet eye and a skeptical ear.

“I think I’ll stay rational and maintain my membership in Agnostics of America in good standing,” Rocco says, not even trying to conceal his mammoth indifference to things religious, that source of comfort to so many.

cat3
“I baptize thee in the name of the Father . . .”

 

“You know, the irrational is way underrated,” I say as I prepare to administer the holy sacrament to the more credulous of our two pets.

“You ever notice how Okie hides under the bed when there’s a storm–and I don’t?” Rocco asks.

“Yes, you’re brave that way,” I say.

“Not brave, just not stupid,” he says.  “It’s a simple discharge of electricity,” he says.  He spent a lot of time sleeping in front of educational TV programs when our kids were young.

“I think the two go hand in hand,” I say, as I scratch his head a bit to show him that we two are of like minds, although I’m pretty sure mine is a good deal bigger than his.

“Lightning and thunder?” he asks.

“No, the tendency to believe in a world of spirits, both benign and malign.  People who think there’s an afterlife where the rivers flow with beer and wine are also the ones who get spooked by mundane natural phenomena,” I say.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” he says as he washes a paw with his tongue.  It garbled his message but I understood him.

Okie
“Wait–what?”

 

“Are you guys about finished, because I’d like to get a dish of that wet cat food before I die,” Okie calls from the sink.

“As usual, you missed a fairly essential part of the program,” Rocco replies.

“What’s that?” Okie asks.

“You have to die to get it,” Rocco calls back to him.

There is silence from the laundry room.  Rocco and I wait to see whether the paradox of the belief in an afterlife will penetrate Okie’s thick but good-looking skull.

After a moment the suspense is broken as we hear Okie say “I can live with that.”

Rocco and I look at each other with, as Keats said in On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer, a wild surmise.  That’s the Okester for you.

“How about you, Roc?” I ask as I get up to baptize Okie.  “Don’t you want to go to heaven?”

He looks at me for a second, then returns to the task of washing that paw.  “No, pops.  I’d rather be with you.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

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My Chipmunk Can Beat Up Your Chipmunk

My chipmunk can beat up your chipmunk–
seriously, he can.
When my chipmunk walks on the basketball court
the other chipmunks go “You da man!”

chipmunk1

He is storied in song and poem,
like the one you hold in your hand.
He’s the toughest chipmunk on my property
if not in the entire land.

He hides in the stone wall on our driveway
waiting for your chipmunk to come along.
He creates a false sense of security
before doing your chipmunk grievous wrong.

chipmunk

Sometimes it’s assault and battery,
other times merely a threat.
You’d think he harbored a grudge
or was trying to collect a debt.

When the bell rings and the round-card girl
holds up her little sign,
only one chipmunk will take a beating
and I don’t think it’s going to be mine.

chipmunk2

You say you want to see my chipmunk
but I can’t accommodate you on that
because as tough as my chipmunk is
he was recently killed by my cat.

My Cats’ Luxury Apartment

     An official of FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, maintained an opulent lifestyle that included a luxury apartment in New York–for his cats.

                                                              The Wall Street Journal

Image result for wet cat food
“Put down the Friskies and nobody gets hurt.”

 

As I turned the key in Apartment 31G, high above Manhattan, I closed my eyes and braced myself for the spectacle I was sure to encounter once I entered.  I opened the door and, just as I expected, saw empty bags of Iams Less Active Catfood in the distinctive turquoise bag strewn across the floor.  A Fancy Feast Classic Seafood Variety Pack was sitting on the counter, with three cans empty.  My roommate Rocco had apparently used the sports page to relieve himself rather than make the arduous trek all . . . . the . . . way back to the kitty box like a civilized cat.

Image result for wet cat food
Working on a six-pack.

 

The situation was nearly intolerable, but I had no one to blame but myself.  After all, I’d acted in The Odd Couple in high school, and should have remembered that roommates were like drinking–never mix, never worry.  But there was something about Rocco–the tuxedo cat I lived with–that made him hard to turn down when he asked if he could move in with me.

Maybe it was his lack of manners, the way he bowls over everything and everybody in his way to get what he wants.  He’s an alpha male, and I’m a beta.  He’s Oscar Madison to my Felix Unger; he’s a slob, and I’m–well, let’s just say I’m . . . fastidious.

Image result for odd couple

I heard a burp from the vicinity of the couch and knew he was home.  I supposed that should have been some consolation, that he hadn’t left his mess for me to clean up.  On the other hand, if he were out somewhere I could straighten things out without his interference; the infuriating indifference he shows to any attempt whatsoever to maintain a luxury apartment in a state that wouldn’t warrant condemnation by the Board of Health.

“Geez, ya scared me,” he said as he lifted his head up from the sofa cushion.

“I hardly think so.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because if I’d truly scared you, you would have at least jumped out of that heap of trash you’re lounging in.”

“I’m comfortable with whom I am.”

Who not whom,” I said.

“Geez–I woulda thought you’d go the other way on that one.  I was tryin’ to use proper English.”

“I’m glad I’ve had some influence on you, even if it’s only superficial.  The relative pronoun functions as part of the relative clause, not the main clause.  So think of it as ‘I am comfortable with the person who I am.’

“If I ever think of it again, I will.”  He sat up, grabbed the remote and turned on “Top Cat,” the 60s cartoon that’s his favorite–dare I say “only”–artistic interest.

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“You know, our master works very hard to provide us with a luxury apartment–it’s the least you could do to pick up after yourself every once in a while.”

“Define ‘hard work,’” he said with a skeptical tone.  “Is it ‘hard work’ to open up an envelope with a large cash payment from a television network?”

“Well, probably not.”

“Is it ‘hard work’ to accept sexual favors from a precocious jeune fille sent to persuade you to site the next World Cup in Moldavia, or Upper Volta, or Burkina Faso?”

I had him dead to rights now.  “Upper Volta and Burkina Faso are the same country, you dingbat.”

“You get my drift,” he said as he stretched his arms before hopping up onto the counter and popping the top off another can of Fancy Feast.

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“Oh, give it a rest, wouldya?”

 

“You’re getting quite a gut from lying around all day eating that . . . junk.”

“You know and I know that being an international soccer official is just about the most corrupt job in the world, after New Jersey traffic court judge and Massachusetts Democratic elected official.”

“So?”

“So you’re in this up to your whiskers, don’t come on all high and mighty with me.  You’re in pari delicto with the whole scam.”

It struck me that there ought to be a Latin logical fallacy for what Rocco had just done–“argument by changing the subject” or something–but there wasn’t, so he had a smug little smile on his face as he made his way back to the couch.

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“I’m as innocent as the last Speaker of the House, who has paid his debt to society.”

 

We went our separate ways, as always.  It’s no fun having a roommate who doesn’t share your interests which, in my case, include washing myself 6 times a day.  Still, we were very fortunate.  It isn’t every cat who has a luxury apartment, and a room of his own to sleep in–on the bed!–to look out the window of, to retire to when the din of the television in the living room becomes too annoying, to . . .

“Holy crap!”  It was Rocco, screaming at the TV.

“What?” I called out to him.  He doesn’t usually get excited, it had to be something important, like a Today Show interview with the editor of Cat Fancy or something.

“They just indicted a bunch of soccer officials for bribery!”

I came around the counter and looked at the screen.  There was our master, doing the perp walk, while the announcer droned on about a $150 million kickback scheme.  I shook my head in disbelief.  “We’re doomed,” I said finally with disgust.

“Why do you say that?” Rocco asked.

“All of this,” I said, sweeping my paw before him.  “You can kiss it goodbye.”

But as always, the Roc-man saw things a bit differently.  “Don’t be a sap,” he said.  “We’ll turn state’s evidence and write a true crime tell-all book.”

“Isn’t that prohibited by ‘Son of Sam‘ laws?”

Image result for david berkowitz

“You mean the guy who claimed he was possessed by a demon in the form of a dog named Harvey?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“Wrong species–we’re cats!”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

At the Cattes Film Festival

          The Walker Art Center, a well-regarded modern art museum in Minneapolis, held what is believed to be the first Internet Cat Video Film Festival recently.

                    The Boston Globe


“Truffaut? Please–he couldn’t change my litter box.”

 

I’ve come with Rocco–my tuxedo cat and the only one I have left after the recent death of his fractious older brother Okie–to the Cattes Internet Video Film Festival. We have high hopes for what we believe to be the Oak Man’s greatest work–Laser Pointer a la Mode–a moody noir meditation on the futility of love for a long-gelded grey tabby male.


Okie, as he approached Orsonwellesian size.

 

“What do you think of our chances?” Roc asks. He’s wearing a beret–a French touch that strikes me as an affectation. I have opted for the rough-and-tumble red-blooded Americanski look favored by directors such as John Huston. Huston famously divorced one of his wives when she demanded he choose between her and a pet chimpanzee. I’m not that far gone as a cat-man–not yet at least.

 


“Anybody seen my monkey?”

 

“I don’t know,” I say glumly to Rocco. It would be great, a feather in Okie’s cap, if the world of film were to recognize Laser Pointer for what it is–the capstone of a great career–but the competition’s tough. The simplistic videos of cats in t-shirts, cats playing the piano, we’ll blow through those amateurish efforts like shit through a goose. It’s the avant-garde I’m worried about; the long-angle re-tellings of The Cat in the Hat, the shifting points of view to be found in Kibbles ‘n Bits, Mon Amour. There’s a new new wave of young cat film directors out there, NYU, UCLA and ASPCA-trained. These kids are good, whereas Okie, Roc and me, we’re a bunch of old-schoolers stumbling around the house Blair Witch-style with a hand-held camcorder that looks like the VHS equivalent of a room-size Univac computer.


“Je regrettez to tellez-vous, le chat has upchucked on le rug again.”

 

“You have to admit in terms of visual comedy, we’re right up there with Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton,” Roc says as he signs the flea collar of a young female admirer.

“Are you staying at the Radisson?” the cute little Persian asks.

“We’re going to be pretty busy meeting with studios,” I say as I steer Roc away from what could be a potential paternity suit if he hadn’t been fixed about the same time I was.

“Hey, I want to have a little fun while I’m in town,” he grumbles to me.

“Your fun days are over, as are mine,” I tell him with a censorious look. “From now on, we’re dedicated to our art–not chicks, okay?”

He doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t have much choice. We’re swept along by the crowd into theatre #3, where Laser Pointer is scheduled to start in two minutes.

“So what if we come out of the festival without a studio deal?” Roc asks with a note of concern in his voice.

“We stay on the festival circuit,” I say. “Sundance, Telluride, maybe even . . . Boston.”

“Why bother?” Roc asks with a withering deprecation of his home town that surprises me. After all, he caught his first mouse there, humped his first couch there.

“You never know,” I say. “We might get a short-run distribution contract. Anything to avoid the stigma of direct-to-DVD.”

That seems to mollify him and, after I get refreshments–Raisinets for me, Liva Snaps for him–we settle into our seats.

We sit through the obligatory safety recitation–no smoking, where the exits are, turn off your cell phones, et cetera–and the lights go down.

“Cross your fingers,” I say, and he looks at me as if I’m daft. “I’ve got six digits per paw and can’t cross any of ’em,” he says and a bit huffily I might add. “Cross your own damn fingers.”


Slo-Poke: Essentialment a l’enjoyment du cinema.

 

The credits roll and our hope and dreams are launched into that artificial night of le cinema, which has inspired so many dreams, provoked so many nightmares, launched tongues to lick so many Slo-Poke All-Day caramel suckers. I exhale, feeling a sense of relief at the end of a long, difficult process over what we’ve accomplished. The festival received 10,000 cat videos; that’s right, five figures of Americans wasting their time as we have, blocking out shots, dealing with Friskies-fed prima donnas who want to stay in their trailers when the light is just right outside. Now it’s all come down to this; twenty-minutes of what we think was Okie at the very pinnacle of his cinematic powers.


Bergman: “We’ll have to re-shoot the death scene–he woke up from his 6-hour nap.”

 

I can sense the mood of the crowd as wave upon wave of Okie’s bleak end-of-life vision washes over them. It’s like an Ingmar Bergman movie with a concession-stand size pack of Twizzlers Red Licorice. I hear one woman sobbing down front; false alarm, somebody stepped on her foot trying to get to his seat.

As the lights come up it’s clear we’ve got a winner on our hands. I turn to look at Rocco, and he’s got a sly little smile on his face that says “Hollywood here we come.” I can see him sizing up a kitten on a casting couch in his horny little mind: “I want you to play a scene in which you’re desperately, tragically in love with an eight-year-old tuxedo cat.”

After a hush, the audience begins to applaud, softly, reverently at first, then louder and with an intelligent, critical enthusiasm. “Auteur!” someone yells, and others take up the call. I look at Roc, we shrug our shoulders, then we make our way up the aisle to the stage.

“Thank you, thank you very much,” I say since Rocco is capable only of a caw-like meow. “On behalf of our late colleague Okie, we are pleased that you enjoyed our entry in the Art-House category here at the Cattes Film Festival.”

“Art-House?” a cineaste in an aisle seat says, incredulous. “We thought it was a comedy.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

Injuries Few in Annual “Running of the Cats”

SOMERVILLE, Mass.  When this suburb of Boston decided to become a “sister city” with Pamplona, Spain a decade ago, few realized what it would mean for the many cat-owners who live here.


El gato de Somervilla

 

“We have cats the way some cities have cockroaches,” says city animal officer Hardy Michaels.  “There are more apartment dwellers here per capita than any city in Massachusetts, so we have more cats.  Also a lot of goldfish, but they don’t get out as much.”


Running of the idiots . . . er, bulls, Pamplona, Spain

 

Pamplona is the site of the annual running of the bulls made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises,” however, and when officials from the Spanish sister city visited Somerville in 1998, they asked why there was no counterpart to their annual San Fermin festival, generally regarded as the world’s leading manifestation of innate male stupidity.


Somerville, Mass.

 

“Frankly, we were caught off guard,” says Elinor Harrity, who chaired the Committee on International Relations that the City Council set up because they found the topic of sewers boring.  “We improvised to show our Spanish compadres that we meant them no disrespect, and the running of the cats was born.”


“Look out!”

 

All able-bodied males take to the streets of Somerville today while their Spanish counterparts participate in the San Fermin festival.  There are  eight scheduled runs before a pack of cats that have been fed only dry food and water for a week, whetting their appetite.  “It is a sign of your manhood to risk your life running before the jaws and claws of the hungry cats,” says Andrew Benis, a freelance photographer who recently broke up with his girlfriend of six years.  “Women admire a brave man, but what’s the point if you get trampled to death by a bull before you can score?”


On the prowl.

 

Last year, two men were admitted to Mt. Auburn Hospital with claw scratches on their calves and small puncture wounds on their hands that they suffered when they were bitten as they tried to remove attacking cats from their legs.  “You see your whole life flash before you when those cats come tearing around a street corner,” says George VandeKamp, who works in a used record store.  “Of course, if your life is mainly beer, pizza and beating off like mine, that’s not such a big deal.”

Because of its density, city officials say they would never issue a permit for a running of the bulls here, not that such an event is very likely.  “It’s pretty rare to see a bull around here,” says Assistant Chief of Police Dan Hampy, “although you hear a ton of it any time you walk into a bar.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

Summer Jobs for Cats

It’s the end of the first really hot day of the summer.  I take off my coat, drop my briefcase and turn around to find the usual scene; two cats sleeping.  Rocco, the young tuxedo cat on the back of the couch, barely troubles himself to turn in my direction.  Okie, the older grey tabby on the floor, opens his eyes and prepares to flop over for an obligatory tummy scratch.  Forgive me if I have trouble working up much sympathy.


11:30 Pilates class.

 

“You guys have a tough life,” I say.

“Not really,” Okie says.  He’s the more literal-minded of the two.  “We get plenty of rest, the food’s okay, lots of free time to exercise . . .”

“He was being ironic,” Rocco says.  Rocco “gets” my sense of humor, even if he prefers to ignore it.

“So what are you saying?” Okie asks, genuinely befuddled.

“What I mean is, I get up at five in the morning and don’t get home until 6:30 at night.  When I leave you guys are asleep, and when I get home you’re asleep.  You stay out all night and have all the food you want.  Nice work if you can get it.”


“You’ve got to stop and smell the roses.”



“We didn’t even have to apply for it!” Okie says, ever the ingenue.

“Irony again,” Rocco says, tucking his head under his paw hoping I’ll go away.

“You know . . .” I begin.

“Here it comes,” Rocco says.  “Another lecture.”

“. . . when I was your age, I had a job every summer, sometimes two jobs.”

“We have jobs,” Rocco says.

“What?” I ask incredulously.

“Rodent control.  Didn’t you see that mouse I left you in the garage this morning?”

“In fact I didn’t see it.  You dropped it right next to my car and I stepped on it.”

“Oops.  Sorry.”

“Not a nice way to start my day.  Anyway, as I started to say, it’s time you two went out and got summer jobs.”

“Who’s gonna hire me?” Okie says.  “I’m 56 in cat years.”

“I think you could find something, if you’d only look.”

“You don’t exactly help things with your stupid op-eds about how the minimum wage is too high for seasonal youth workers,” Rocco says.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I say, sincerely shocked.  “There’s no way in hell either one of you is worth $11 an hour.”

“There’s not a lot of work out there for unskilled laborers who haven’t got opposable thumbs,” Okie says.  “We’re not polydactyls, you know.”

He’s got a point.  “I’m not suggesting you should become accountants and hold pencils, I’m just saying you could try a little bit harder to earn your keep around here.”

Rocco finally rolls over and looks at me.  “Easy for you to say, you with twenty years of schooling,” he says.  If he had eyebrows, one of them would be arching right now.

“Well, yeah, but . . .”

“No buts about it.  I think we ought to just lie low for awhile, get advanced degrees and wait till things pick up a little.”

It’s my turn to be incredulous.  “Advanced degrees–in what?”

“Interior decorating.  Relaxation therapy,” Okie says earnestly.

“Comparative literature,” Rocco suggests flippantly.

“Those kinds of things would be fine if you two were young, but it’s too late now.  You’re in your peak earning years!” I say, a little exasperated.


Gandhi

 

“We must be the change we want to see in the world,” Okie says.  That was the motto he picked for his senior high school yearbook photo.

“Gandhi–right?” I ask.

“No–Bo Belinsky, playboy pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels,” Rocco says.  When he gets in one of his negative moods, he can be very sarcastic.


Bo Belinsky, with Mamie van Doren

 

“I’ll tell you what,” I say.  “I’ll put you on a piece work basis.”

“What’s that?” Okie asks.

“That’s how you get paid when you do farm work, like de-tasseling corn, or bucking hay.”

“‘Bucking hay,’” Rocco says, rolling over on his back to laugh.  “Sounds like a real hoe-down.”

”Nobody says ‘hoe-down,’” I remind him, “it’s ‘chivaree.’  Anyway, we used to get two cents a bale of hay,” I recall wistfully.

“Whoop-de-do,” Rocco says with contempt.

“It taught you that if you wanted to make money, you worked faster.”

“Thereby causing farm accidents involving the loss of limbs,” Rocco says.

“Nope–not me,” I say proudly, holding out both my arms.  “A farmer told us we’d get our long hair caught in the grain auger if we weren’t careful, but it never happened.”


Grain auger

 

Rocco takes this in for a minute.  “What are you proposing to pay?”

“I don’t know–five cents a mouse, maybe a dime for a chipmunk.  Quarter for a squirrel.  Lay off the birds.”

“Why?” Okie asks.

“Because it makes mom sad when you kill them.”

“So–incentive-based compensation, right?” Rocco asks slily.  I think I know where he’s going.

“That’s right.  And I don’t care if you freelance around the neighborhood on your days off.”

“Do I have to share with slow-poke over there?” Rocco asks, tilting his head towards the old man.


“Why can’t the mice come to me?”

 

“Nope.  As we say in business, using a metaphor drawn from the animal kingdom, ‘You eat what you kill.’”

Suddenly Rocco’s apathy is gone.  “I’m in,” he says.

“Wait,” Okie says, starting to realize that his glide path to retirement will be a little longer than he thought.  “Can I . . . like . . . tag along with Rocco?”

“If you mean sloppy seconds, the answer is no,” Rocco says.  “Find your own goddamn mice.”

“Guys–let’s not let compensation tear the firm apart,” I say, pouring oil on turbulent waters.

“Wonder where you got that line,” Rocco says as he heads for the door.  “Let me out–I’m going prospepecting.”


Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

The Country Mouse and the City Mouse

Once there was a country mouse who grew tired of the limited amusements available in his provincial town. He called up his cousin who lived in a luxury condo in the city.

“Put the sheets on the hide-a-bed cause I’m busting out of this burg,” said the country mouse.

“You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into,” said his cousin.

“So much of your so-called sophistication is but a mere gossamer,” said the country mouse, rising to the level of platitudes. “What I don’t know won’t hurt me,” repeating something he had heard in another context.

“But what will you do for cheese?” asked the city mouse.

“I can get by on barley and corn,” said the country mouse.

“Oh God,” groaned his cousin.

When the country mouse arrived at his cousin’s place, he suggested that they see the sights.

“I was going to catch up on my reading,” said the city mouse, “but don’t let me spoil your fun.”

“Wouldn’t think of it,” said the country mouse.

“Ciao,” said the city mouse.

“No thanks, I’ll eat later.”

The country mouse hailed a cab and asked how much a ride to The Stork Club would cost.

“About five bucks,” said the cabbie, “not including gratuity.”

“Nice night for a walk,” said the country mouse.

Some time later the country mouse arrived at The Stork Club. “Gimme a table near the band,” he said.

“Do you have a reservation?” asked the stork d’hotel.

“Where I come from you don’t need one,” said the mouse.

“There will be a table available in about an hour, and the cover charge is $20,” said the stork, eyeing the mouse doubtfully.

“Forget it,” said the mouse, affecting an air of importance. “I’m a busy mouse.”

The country mouse checked his wallet and decided that his conquest of the city would have to wait until he had a little more walking-around money. “When I do things I do ’em right,” he said to himself. “I travel first-class and I bring my own carfare. I will soon have this city by the tail, if not the whiskers,” and with that he vowed to live frugally, save his money and rise slowly but relentlessly to the top.

On his way back to his cousin’s place the country mouse took an express train that deposited him in a strange neighborhood, where he was set upon by cats who cleaned him out.

Moral: Sophistication is a vain and empty thing, whose value is not appreciated.