Friday, June 26, 2009

Basil, Part 2 of 2

or, A Happy Ending for Kitty

To spare you unnecessary suspense, I tell you ahead of time that it has a happy ending.

But what a problem, trying to find kitty a home! I walked all over the neighborhood three times, with kitty on my shoulder, asking everybody I dared, “Do you want a kitten? He’s very friendly, as you can see,” while kitty would rub against my cheek.

Nobody wanted him, precious as he is. There are thousands of homeless cats in this city, tens of thousands.

I met some very nice people in the effort, though, Earlier this week, I met a kind monk, who stopped to say, “What a lovely kitten!” and who wanted to pet him. Of course he couldn’t take it, and he didn’t know anybody else who would, either. I met some very pleasant shopkeepers, sitting on the sidewalk out in front of their establishments. I met a woman with a toddler in tow who said she loved cats and would love to take this one, but she was leaving, same as me. She was French, living here most of the time, but going back and forth to France for vacations. I met another woman who was fussing at her toddler, and when I stopped to ask an old man sitting on a stone wall whether he’d like a kitten, he smiled and nodded toward the woman and said, “Ask her. She can throw away the kid and take the cat.” So I laughed with him. I met two very sweet young women sitting at a sidewalk cafĂ©, and they told me there was a lady across the street who loved cats, and I should ask her. They were just showing me which apartment was hers, when she appeared on the balcony. Or perhaps I misunderstood and it was not she, but a neighbor fed up with all the cats. At any rate, she called down to me: “Kyria, Kyria!” Lady, lady! When I looked up, she took off her shoe and kicked her bare foot at me. (You remember about shoes and the East, don’t you, from the incident wherein an Iraqi threw at shoe at President Bush?) “Go away!” she yelled. “Go away! Go on, get out of here!”

I think if I had it to do over again, I might have said, “I go where I please” and have sat down. But as it was about to rain, I shrugged and walked sadly away. That is the one and only Greek, here or in America, who has ever been rude to me.

This morning, Demetrios got up at dawn and caught a cab to the village and church of St. Anthony, to arrive in time for services beginning at 7:00. Ioannis the theologian and Chrysostomos are both cantors in that parish, and had proposed that Demetrios join them today. So he did, and if he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have found a home for kitty. Because they all went out for coffee afterwards, and the priest joined them, together with his sympatheros. (Your sympatheros is your married child’s father-in-law.) And when Demetrios thought to ask whether anyone knew someone who could take our kitty, the sympatheros said he would! He already has several cats, including two litters of kittens, but he said it would be no problem to take our kitten as well.

Well, now I’ve got to go clean up my cat carrier, which will go with him, a donation to his new owner, and tomorrow (the shops all being closed for the rest of today), I’ll buy a big bag of cat food, too.

Kitty will be a yard cat, not a house cat, but that’s better than being a street cat. And he will be guaranteed a living; i.e., food, although it will most likely be table scraps. He probably won’t get regular medical care, but he will if there’s anything seriously wrong with him. He won’t be neutered, so I have explained to him that he is just going to have to be the toughest, strongest tomcat out there, to do well in cat fights over females. To that end, to express that hope, he now has a name: Basil.