In my early twenties Id
moved from New York to San Francisco, gotten a job with a regional brewer and
lived in a studio apartment that I didnt like. The building it was in was
ramshackle, the walls were paper thin, the furniture, such as it was, came from
a thrift store and the sofa bed I slept in was lumpy. My title at the brewery
was Sales Research Manager, which sounded impressive enough, but in reality I
had a staff of one and my salary was probably less than any of the unionized
workers in the brewery.
I became interested in a pretty
girl in accounting; her name was Gloria. It turned out that Gloria had a cat
and the cat had kittens. Gloria was looking for anyone whod take the
kittens. When she pleaded with me to take one I couldnt turn her down.
After work she brought the kitten over, it was tiny and gray, along with a
litter box and some cans of cat food. I must have made a pass at her, my memory
after all these years is hazy, but it was inconclusive. I do remember that when
I was in my lumpy sofa bed that night I felt a little furry presence on my
stomach and heard a purring sound. A month or so later Gloria announced she was
getting married and quitting her job. So Gloria was gone but I had Mickey.
When I returned from work
Id call Mickey and shed come from wherever she was at to be fed her
supper. When I sat down in my uncomfortable armchair to read after my own
supper shed jump in my lap and Id tell her about the events of the
day. I assumed my neighbors could hear me as I could hear them through the
paper thin walls and maybe they thought I was strange. Or maybe they thought I
had another person in the apartment with me named Mickey. Id had
Mickey for several months when one day the landlord unexpectedly appeared, told
me someone had said I had a cat and no pets were allowed in his building. I had
to get rid of Mickey or move out. I started looking for another place to
I found a place, not in San
Francisco, but over the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. It was on the middle
floor of a three-story wooden house and it had a view of the Bay, Alcatraz and
of the city beyond. It had a balcony and also had a bedroom with a real bed.
The rent was quite a bit more than Id been paying. I told the landlord I
had a cat. He said that was okay. I immediately took it.
Mickey and I liked the
Sausalito apartment much better than the old one, even though I had to drive
over the Golden Gate Bridge every day to work. Before leaving in the morning,
Id let her out. There was an empty field in back of the building where
she could play. When I returned Id go out on the balcony and if I could
see her in the field Id call her name. Her ears would go up. At my second
call shed turn around. At the third call shed come
running. At night wed sit out on the balcony and watch the
lights of Alcatraz and of the city. After a time, I learned that Mickey also
visited the spinster who lived in the apartment below and the couple in the
apartment above. She became known as the building cat.
One day when I came back after
work I didnt see Mickey in the field or anywhere else. I called but no
Mickey. Night came and still no Mickey. This continued for a week. Id
lost Mickey. Then on a Sunday I was watching a football game when there was a
scratching at the door and a low meow. I sprang from my chair and rushed to the
door. It was Mickey but her back legs were crooked. She must have been hit by a
car. I called my office on Monday and said I wouldnt be in. I found a vet
in the phone book and took Mickey there. He did something and Mickeys
back legs were almost straightened out. The vet said shed recover in
time. The vet was right. I had Mickey again.
The only problem with living in
Sausalito was that, even with Mickey, after a while I became lonely. I finally
met a girl, Ashley, at the San Francisco Marketing Association. She was
Marketing Manager at a paper company, but she was a real manager, with a staff
of half a dozen and a salary that I was sure was much higher than mine. She was
also sophisticated and very ambitious. I must admit I was smitten with her.
After a few dates I brought her over to my Sausalito apartment. She was
impressed with the view but didnt like Mickey; she said she was allergic
to cats. Mickey in her turn didnt like her. She came over to examine
Brittany, shook her head and walked away. Then came another event. The brewery
where I worked closed down. Theyd decoded they couldnt compete with
two other powerful regional brands. I was out on the street. The next time I
called Britney and told her I was unemployed she said, Oh and hung
up. Later on, someone at the Marketing Association told me Ashley had said
shed gone on a date with some poor loser with a scruffy cat. I never
asked her out again.
Sally was a different story.
She was a nurse at a San Francisco hospital. The wife of my landlord, also a
nurse there, had introduced us. Sally was a shy girl, like myself, with a soft
voice and a warm smile. When I brought her over to my apartment Mickey came
over to examine her and promptly jumped in her lap. Eventually, after a few
months we made good use of the first bedroom I had. A few months after that we
were married. By this time I had another job, with the State, not
terribly exciting but a lot more secure than the brewery. We had to move to
Sacramento, the state capital and center of all state agencies, for me to get a
promotion. We found an apartment which didnt allow pets. We searched all
over but couldnt find anything else. We had to move quickly and I left
Mickey with the couple who lived upstairs who promised to take good care of
her. It was a sad leave-taking. After a year in Sacramento we bought a house
and got a cat. I named her Mickey II.