The Day the Cat Stood Still

We may have lost a couple of potential customers a few days ago. I suppose that’s what happens when the wife lets me mind the store.

Not really my fault though.

See, when the weather is nice, we leave the front door open. It seems to get folks in that would otherwise bypass us. See, for some reason, despite the green and black “open” sign, the decorated bench out front, The Big Chief keeping watch on the sidewalk out front, and the super bright flashing blue and red LED “OPEN” sign, folks often seem to doubt that we are open…peering in the windows and moving on.

The open door seems to confirm any suspicion that we might possibly be open, and they will come on in.

I keep wondering if I should employ a sort of “reverse bouncer”, ya know, some 6 foot 7 inch, 350 pound, steroid-sucking mass of muscle and attitude…to stand out on the sidewalk and throw people IN to the store…but that’s just a stray thought.

Anyway, nice weather. Door open. Attracts people and saves some on AC or heat. Nothing wrong with a nice breeze and the sounds of small town Texas.

But doors that are open to people, are open to other things too.

As is my habit, I was tinkering on something or other in the work area at the back of the shop, when to my surprise I hear a “Merroww?” and a small cat rubs up against my legs.

Behold! A visitor! Probably not a customer though, cats typically forget to bring their checkbook, but we do encourage lookers too.

Long familiar with cats, I can tell this small female is well fed and seems properly socialized. No collar, so maybe a stray, but if so, a recent one.

Since she was rubbing against my leg, that is usually a sign they are friendly and want some attention.

I reached down to pet her.

She didn’t like that at all!

“PPPHHHHHHSSSSSSTTTTMMMMEEEYOOOOOW!” All the hair she had stood on end, she jumped at least 3 feet in the air, and bolted out of the store at just slightly under light-speed.

A little startling, but in the end, no harm done and the cat left on her own. Problem solved. I seem to have more than my fair share of problems lately, so I really dig the ones that solve themselves.

Or so I thought.

Some time and several customers later (Hey! I sold one whole soft-drink!), a couple of older ladies came in and began to browse.

As usual I greeted them and then left them alone to shop. It’s a fine balance…customers don’t want to be bothered/smothered…but they don’t want to be ignored either. Each one has a different tolerance…

Sitting at the counter trying to figure out which limb the state comptroller was gonna want chopped off and filed with the quarterly tax paperwork (small business friendly my big hairy butt ur back), I could hear the ladies talking to themselves about the art.

“Oooo…this one’s nice.” I glanced up. Yep, one of Roger’s works. They invariably get compliments.

Shortly, they had moved on to the paintings, and a particularly interesting piece by Larry Algaier…a ceramic fired, mounted/framed female torso relief (I need to get/post a pic of this work).

“How do you think he made that?” the ladies discuss among themselves. They giggle a bit, “Who do you think the model was?”

I grin to myself. It’s the ladies that invariably comment on any art that depicts the female form.

I do enjoy the lookers, even when they aren’t buying. At least I can get some confirmation that art, and enjoyment of it, is not dead. In this depressed economy, when everybody seems only to remember the pragmatic and practical, I sometimes wonder.

“Oooo! Look at that one! It’s SO lifelike!”

I glance up. They are still admiring the section with Larry’s works. I wonder which one they are discussing, but I am more focused on re-reading (for the tenth time) the instructions on the tax form. A degree in engineering…well over 40 credit hours of higher mathematics…and this stupid paragraph makes absolutely no sense. I’m pretty sure, translated into “people” speak, it means something like, “Pull any number you can think of out of thin air and put it here.” Ah well. All they can do if I mess it up is send armed troops in to seize everything I own. I write “3.1416” in the blank.

Another snippet from the ladies, “Look at the eyes! How do you suppose he did those?”

A tickle at the back of my neck…something’s not quite right. I’m pretty familiar with the selection of art in the shop and can’t really think of any in that area that would/should elicit that response.

I glance up, the ladies are on the other side of a counter and bent over looking at something on the bottom shelf that I can’t see.

“And the fur! It’s so real!”

The fur? THE FUR? Oh crap…

I stand up just in time to see one of the ladies reach down to touch the “art”.

Sitting there on the bottom shelf, frozen as still as any statue, is the small cat that had visited me this morning.

The lady’s hand approaches. The cat is still frozen, ears forward, watching.

Perched on her haunches, tail wrapped back around her front paws, she has placed herself so she looks exactly like she belongs. Not even a whisker twitches.

Yep, here I am. Just another piece of art.

The hand reaches closer. I raise my hand to point (I’ve no idea why) and start to speak.

Contact.

The cat simply explodes. “YRRROOOOWWWWWPPHHHHHSSSSTTTTTT!” Fur expands. The cat, fluffed out to fully twice her normal size, leaps clear over the hapless bent over women and simply disappear-er-ates (technical term) with a electrical “snap” and the hint of a sonic boom.

I barely catch a glimpse of her tail vanishing around the corner out in front of the store.

Both women throw up their hands and howl, with laughter or terror, I can’t be sure, and then with a sort of trot/jog, head for the door with a foot-stamping gait…a sort of “OMG a mouse” kind of stereo-typical run/dance that carries them around the tables and statues in the front of the shop. The howling approaches a siren’s wail as they hit the doorway still running for all they are worth.

I stand there behind the counter, hand raised, and with my mouth open to speak. I’m still not sure what I was gonna say.

I’m not sure whether I lost a couple customers, or gained some great advertising.

Me, they’ll probably forget, but “The Day the Cat Stood Still” will no doubt live on in their memories forever.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer


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