Bacione



“Is not a kiss the very autograph of love?”
-Henry Finck

I’ll never forget the first time we met.

My first cat, Eponine, had been with me for sixteen years. Eponine was a sweet cat who supported me through more downs than ups, and when Eponine’s body started to fail, I had a hard time accepting it was her time to go. I had hoped to bring her with me in my move to the West Coast; and, I think Eponine wanted to make that last move with me, too--she held out until the night before I departed.

Months later, my mom brought Eponine’s ashes to me so that Eponine could have her final wish, and I buried Eponine in the garden below my window.

It took me a long time to be ready for another cat after that. But, a year after I had gotten settled into my new home in a new city with my new job, I realized I was also ready for a new cat.

And, just like the start to many great love affairs, I found my new cat, now named Harley, on the Internet.

Harley was living with a foster mom at the time and registered under the Humane Society. In her online photo, Harley had a cute little mischievous smirk on her face and seemed to be someone who needed extra love and attention. I thought we might make a good match, so I arranged for an introduction.

Alice, Harley’s then-foster mom, brought Harley over for our first meeting.

Alice took Harley out of the carrier, placed her in my arms and watched, like a protective mother, to see if we had any chemistry.

Moments after being placed in my arms, Harley stretched out her head toward mine. Excited, Alice said, “Do this!” and demonstrated how to stretch my head out towards Harley, leading with my nose. Harley stretched her head further towards mine and touched her nose to my nose. Alice shouted, “She kissed you!”

That was a kiss?! It felt a little bit cold to me. But, uh, ..okay.

“Alright, well, I guess I should keep her, then” I said. I mean, I wanted to do the honorable thing.

“On no,” said Alice. “You can’t keep her!”

What?! Is this a trick? First, I just kissed a cat with my nose and now I can’t keep her!?

“No, she’s got ringworm! She has to be in quarantine for 14-more days!”

“But… we just kissed!” I said, looking for something to wash my face.

And so, this is how our six-year relationship began. A little bit awkward. A little bit funny. And, a little bit sweet.

Harley left that day with her foster mom, Alice, for her 14-day quarantine, before returning to live with me. And, I never developed feline ringworm.

Over the years, I’ve come to learn that Harley’s kissing is a good sign and my dates who don’t get a kiss from Harley on the first or second meeting usually don’t last long with me. Harley has a nose for knowing these things and I’ve learned to trust her intuition.

But, don’t think Harley’s all sweet and roses. I didn’t name her after a motorcycle, for nothin’.

Harley’s an adventurous, mischievous cat. In fact, there was a long period of time where I thought I could write a series of books about the adventures of Harley.

I would have three books about Harley. The first would be, The Adventures of Harley the Cat; the second would be, More Adventures of Harley the Cat and sadly, the last would be, The Final Adventures of Harley the Cat. Given the direction I was headed with the series, I decided to abort the idea. I didn’t want to put any weird ju-ju out there that might give a pre-mature ending to our budding relationship.

Still, it was fun to think about everything I could write about.

For example, there was the time that Harley fell out the window and survived. And then there was the time that Harley got completely soaked when she fell into the bathtub while I was soaking in it. Or, there was the time that Harley fell off the curtain she was climbing it and we stayed until two in the morning in the Animal Emergency Hospital with Harley getting her limbs x-rayed and tested out. Then, there was the time that Harley had an allergic reaction to a rabies shot and we spent an entire fourth of July holiday weekend in the Animal Emergency Hospital. I was certain Dr. Death was knocking at the door that time.

But, nothing tops the time that Harley was constipated and we spent three days at the Animal Emergency Hospital waiting for a very effective laxative to stop working its magic.

Yes, life with Harley has been exciting, fun and filled with kisses. We have been together for six-years now and things are better today than ever. I’ve learned to live with the nearly 800 little kiss-prints on the windows of our lake-view condo. I no longer think anything is strange about Harley’s kissing; and, I find nothing odd about how she likes to snuggle into bed at night. Harley and I have got chemistry, after all.

But most important, I hardly even notice the nights when Harley, comfortable in our relationship, forgets to give me a good-night kiss.


Author’s note: I tried to take a picture of Harley, but she had to kiss the camera lens. That’s her nose, close-up. I think it means she’s kissing you. ;-)