Sunday, May 10, 2009

Winston: He’s Got a Tiger by the Tail…

Mom decorates her house with “themes.” Or so I told her telling a friend. “The main bathroom came with wallpaper that looks like savannah grass and a beige/brown colour scheme,” she said, “so I turned it into my Lion Room.” She’s a real cat person, so it wasn’t a far stretch for her to put up lion towels, hang lion pictures, lay down a lion throw rug, and decorate with figures representing that alleged “king of beasts.” (If he’s so royal, why is he eating raw meat and sleeping with flies, I ask you? The nickname obviously has nothing to do with fact and everything to do with effective PR.)

Anyway, the focal point of the room, and the one that is keenly of interest to Franklin and me, is the ceiling-tall rack behind the floor-mounted water bowl. The three shelves of this rack are packed with a growing collection of lion plushies that started coming together during Mom’s childhood. Large, small, supine, standing… they number about 40, and they make a splendid display—an hommage au chat—that is entirely pleasing to Frank and me.

But amongst the lions, there is another cat, an outcast, a stripped beast Mom calls “Tiger.” Apparently Mom donated money to an animal group called World Wildlife Fund and they sent her a gift.

Now, it upsets our catly sensibilities to have this mismatched animal amongst an otherwise organized display. So, with great regularity, we have taken to stealing him and hiding his absurdly-stripped self in another room in the house: under the bed, on the dinner table, behind the computer, inside the laundry hamper… you name it, we’ve used it for a secret stashing spot.

It’s not just the hiding to which Mom objects, though, for without any reasoning that we can divine, she also objects to our chewing on Tiger, leaving him not just mangled, but moist. And she gets particularly cranky when—at 3 or 4 in the morning—Franklin pulls Tiger into the bedroom and loudly growls while practicing his pounces. (I, being the soul of discretion, have learned to practice in Silent Mode.)

Mom has started hiding Tiger on the upper shelves, hoping we won’t see him, and she's telling the household and guests, “New rule: close the door when you leave.” Sometimes, though, someone forgets and the door stays open. Today was such a day. So with our usual lightning speed—for one never knows how long one will have an opportunity—we entered the room. Franklin quickly mounted the rack and started tossing lions down, left and right, as he served as reconnaissance in Operation Tiger Search.

I heard a noise on the stairs and quickly exited the room. Franklin was a bit late, though, only noticing the sound of approach when a step fell in the hallway. As he proudly recounted later, “I knew I was too late to jump down and get out of the room before I got caught in the act! So I froze on the top shelf—not even blinking, not a single whisker twitching—as the light came on. And success! No one noticed my blue-eyed, ivory coloured, long-tailed self-of-lifelike proportions amongst the fanciful stuffed animals.”

Or at least that’s what he says.

I haven’t the heart to tell him that moments later, I heard laughter and comments about “a missed Kodak Moment” from downstairs. I am quite sure Franklin will never admit that such comments could have had anything whatever to do with him!


At May 10, 2009 at 9:24 PM , Blogger Linda said...

I love this story. Do they really single out the tiger for attention?

And, how nice that Franklin's dignity was preserved.... as long as Winston keeps his mouth shut.

At May 10, 2009 at 10:35 PM , Blogger Gaile Gray said...

Yes, it's true. For some reason, the 6-inch tiger attracts nearly all their focus. I've tried weaning them away from the felines with, oh, a stuffed Moose I got from the National Wildlife Federation, or a plush duckie that I picked up for their Easter present. They do like a certain kind of fabric, and one of the Ty lions is also well liked. But the Tiger is just IT.

They say cats are colour blind, but how do we really know for sure? Maybe they find the orange and black disconcerting amidst all the beiges and browns? Or find the stripes intrusive over the solid colours of the lions? All I know is, when I hear growling in the dark of night, there's little chance the prey is anything but a damp and well-mussed Tiger.


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