The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship

by Kevin Burton

   It wasn’t a Walkman, it was an off brand, essentially the same.  Most days I took it with me to listen to my tunes on the short bus ride down High Street in Columbus, to my job as an office assistant. 

   One day I turn it on, no sound, no tunes. I’m watching for my stop so it took a little while to register, hey, I’m not hearing anything.   I repeat this step of course. OK, dead batteries, short in the cord?

   Now siting at my desk at work, I took a closer look and see that the wire on one side of the headphones had been cut.

   Actually not cut, chewed, by my new friend Mex. It was her first notable “contribution” to my life.

   The Christmas after my father died my brother and I made it a point to go to Georgia to see my mother and grandmother just before Christmas.  In the days before I left, my co-worker Rita told us about these two kittens she had found on her front porch.

   She said she had to separate then with a partition in her garage because “the one would bite and scratch and try to kill the other.”  Rita was trying to find homes for the kittens.

    I was mildly interested and thus mildly disappointed when she said she thought she had found homes for them. 

   I told her “Well I am going to Georgia to see my mother. If you have not found a home for them by the time I get back, I will take one of them.”

   When I got back Rita said, “You have a cat.”  Remembering that cardboard partition I asked her, “Did I get the biter or the bitee?”

   “You got the biter,” Rita said. That was my first clue as to what I was in for. 

   The next day she delivered the all-black, female kitten to me at work. She fit easily into the palm of my hand.

   She actually stayed at work for a night or two. I was moving from an apartment where I was not allowed pets, to one where I could have her. Once I got the keys to my new place, I took her home.

   She thanked me by chewing up my headphones. I told myself and my girlfriend at the time that I wasn’t going to keep this cat. That’s why I didn’t get her declawed.  I didn’t know what setting she would be moving to and it wouldn’t be fair to take away her defensive (offensive?) weapons. 

   My other thought was, one of these days you are going to chew the wrong wire and you will get a little surprise dear kitty.

   My girlfriend laughed and urged me to have patience with my furry friend for the first, but not the last, time.

   I had Mex spayed so she would never become the gift that keeps on giving.  It was her first encounter with the medical profession.

   When they brought her back to me from the procedure, Mex was bundled and sore.  

   “She showed some attitude,” the vet assistant said.

   “That’s my girl,” I said to myself.  Out loud I asked, “Do you have any of those cones?” 

   I was referring to the plastic cones you put on animals so they can’t disturb the surgery area.  Already in the waiting room Mex was inspecting her stitches.  If I didn’t have that cone, all that good vet work would be undone by the time I got her home. 

   Mex had her own agenda from day one.

   She would chase a purple and yellow butterfly I had on a string, as long as I cared to run with it through the apartment. One day we played this game an extra-long time. I noticed something was dreadfully wrong with her.  I thought she was about to expire.

   It took a minute, but I finally figured it out.

   “My God she’s panting!” I thought. I looked up cats panting on the internet, which I was just learning to use, and found that yes, cats do pant. 

   It was her first, but not her only dog trait.  Cats rub against people and objects to leave their scent.  It’s widely thought to be a sign of affection. Maybe so, but the primary purpose is to mark their territory. 

   Mex would do this head first, head-butting people. Thus a new verb was coined in my household. In infinitive form “to mex” means “to head-butt and rub against.”

   Usage; “Stop mexing me!”

   Anyway, I thought that was dog-ish. But Mex always had her own rules.

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