I had planned on having a job starting Monday or heading back to Denver. As usual, my plans didn’t work out.

       The interview went great. Unfortunately, so did someone else’s. They’re skipping a week (week 1), then I’m going to move into the sorority house from the 2nd – the 7th (week 2). After that, the board is bringing Player #2 for 7 days (week 3). I’m not sure this is the best idea for anyone involved, but it’s what they’ve chosen to do.  In all fairness, I understand why they’re being cautious…..the girls loved the lady who was their mom for 15 years. But is giving them three more weeks of limbo with Contestants #1 and #2 in and out of the house the best option?  Not my decision. I just hope that whatever is best for the girls prevails.

     The flip side is that I seem to have acquired a semi-black cat along the way.

     When I hit Mini Ha Ha Ranch, Mary and I were sitting on the back porch and she started whistling (I can’t) and yelling a high-pitched, almost shrill, “Here, Kitty, Kitty.”  Did I mention Mary won’t tolerate cats even nuzzling up to her leg — let alone getting up in her lap? And Lina doesn’t even want them on the same planet?

      In seconds, a cat bounded onto the porch, nuzzled her leg, jumped on the patio table for the dinner and water Mary had prepared, and then found me. I’m an easy target and all cats know it.  She nuzzled, butted her head up against me, made bread; did all the things cats know to do when they’re on the lap of a full-fledged wimp. The next thing I knew, I was up the next morning making feeble attempts at whistling, yelling, “Here, Kitty, Kitty,” and rustling a bag of cat food so she’d know it was time for breakfast. She jauntily responded by running up onto the porch, snuggling with me first, having breakfast, and returned to my nap for purrs, nuzzles, and a nap. The ritual was repeated that evening.

     During that first introduction, Mary informed me that Kitty, Kitty had snown up at the ranch torn up. There was an infection on her throat, and I saw the knick in her left ear.  Kitty, Kitty is a house cat.  She’s declawed, spayed, and if those two things are true, her shots must be current. She can’t be over a year old. She can’t defend herself in a cat fight, and wears the evidence to prove it.

      Mary had cared for the infection, started feeding her, and gotten her eating until she became a respectible cat size instead of bones and fur. Kitty, Kitty had been dividing her time in the shelter of the barn and under the concrete porch beside their house’s deck.

       Within a couple of days, I started thinking that Peggy was minus two pets (one who died recently, and one who left when her daughter, Brooke, got her apartment) and that she wouldn’t mind if I brought one home with me. It’s official. I’m not nuts. I’m f’ing nuts.  Of all the times in my life when I officially don’t need to be owned by a pet, it’s now. I don’t know where I live. Don’t know when I’ll know where I live. Shit.

“Kitty, Kitty” didn’t seem like a viable name for a good, self-respecting cat that had been struggling to survive for no one knows how long, so we started playing with names. We didn’t know the sex, picked it up to see, but the whole underside was black. No clue. Tried a couple more times, and it didn’t take long to learn that whatever it was, it didn’t like to be picked up by the front quarters and have its private parts dangled for the world to see.  So, we started with “Shim.” Part She, part Him.” I never liked it. Neither did the cat.

      I always figured I’d end up getting two rescues once I got settled — a boy and a girl — and name them Bogie and Bacall or Holmes and Watson, because in both cases, one wasn’t complete without the other. But if it didn’t make sense to have one animal in my life, two was absolutely, positively out of the question and neither name stood alone — even if we could figure out what it had between its legs.

      Then a friend of Mary & Lina’s came over who seemed to have expertise in the area. We picked up the cat by the front quarters one more time and dangled its crotch in front of B.J.’s face.

      “Girl.” And now we knew.

      I started with Agatha. For Dame Agatha Christy. It seemed like a great idea at the time. But then Jerzi of Jerzi, Jaxi & Judson fame and a friend of hers begged me not to name her Agatha because a girl in their class’s name was Agatha and she had this big wort that made her look like a witch. Agatha never worked again. I laughed too hard when I called the name.

      By this time, Shim/Agatha figured out I was never going to be able to do the Mary whistle, or any other whistle for that matter, and that my “Here, Kitty, Kitty” wasn’t ever going to be as high-pitched. She finally began to grace me with her presence and her snuggles (when it was her idea) when my own brand of pathetic whistle and call rang out over the pastures at Mini Ha Ha. Especially if the rustle of cat food was involved.

      We went through some names — she refused to acknowledge any of them; some actually drew a look like, “You’re kidding. Right?”

      I started calling her Sophie. It seemed right. She ignored it for awhile, but after a few days she started showing up without my calls. I’d look outside the window and she’d be sitting on the table waiting for me. Or lying under it. Or sunning herself on the porch. Her presence meant mine was both requested and required. Her jumping on the window sill became a command performance. My attention was demanded.

     Sophie officially had a new subject. If I got the job in Stillwater and they didn’t allow pets, Mary had a back-up plan in another friend who had agreed to take her, but for now she was mine….or I was hers…..

     So, when it was time to leave Mini Ha Ha, I packed up the car and she came out to watch. Originally, the plan had been to leave the next morning, but there she was. There I was. I scooped her up and we headed for the car. She was a non-volunteer. For the record, she’s very strong and is pretty damned good at wrestling herself away when she doesn’t want to be held. She does not. Does Not. Like Cars.  After about fifteen minutes of bitching, moaning, and roaming, she settled on my lap and went to sleep. But it’s obvious that cars freak her out.

     We got to Jenni & Jason & Jerzi & Jaxi & Judson & Jazzie & Jeno & Jayda Belle and Jinx’s, and the second I opened the car door, she bolted. That went on three times before I finally got her to the door of the house and pitched her inside in front of me. She blasted past everyone, and an hour later we found her behind Jenni & Jason’s bed. Of course, Jerzi walked into the room, said, “Here, Kitty, Kitty,” and she came out. For me? Sure.

        Now, the next day, she’s under mine, but she’s adjusting. She’s letting all the adults and kids come in and pet her; even the not-so-Jentle-Judson. Went straight to her make-shift litter box created from a box and trash-can liner. The dogs got in this morning, and she didn’t bat a whisker. Just maintained her queenly stance on the bed. The cats? Not such a fan. Jayda Belle and Jinx try to make friends, but  they and Sophie end up hissing at each other. We’re working ourselves into those relationships. I understand she’s been in the wild for a good period of time and the only cats she’s come in contact with were feral. They were out to hurt her. But if I don’t get the job and end up at Peggy’s, she’ll have two waiting for her there.

     So, obviously I’m not over making semi-unrational choices, but Sophie is embracing inside-cat-dom. She never left my side last night, snuggling, re-arranging herself, snuggling again. It’s obvious she’s missed owning a human. Even if I don’t get to keep her, I’ve brought her in from the cold, wet, scary, dangerous world where she had to hide under porches.  And I have a good cat to snuggle with again.

      For the record, that’s the only part of the three more weeks in Oklahoma I’m happy about. I don’t like the idea that I’m betting three weeks of my life on a 50/50 bet. Or that the people doing the interviewing weren’t able to make a decision on the spot. Or that I’m going through money in one place where I only have a 50/50 chance of staying. This is not a time in my life when I can afford to spend money in what might end up to be a lost venture. When they called two days ago to ask me to be Contestant #1, I had to ask if there was compensation for living with the girls for a week, and the board president said they hadn’t thought about it. Hadn’t thought about it? Really? They pay for someone to just stay overnight when the house director has a week-end off, and they’re not even expected to be in the house during the day. She said she’d get back to me, but that was two days ago and I haven’t heard from her. That gives me cause for concern.

       Anyway, I’m playing it loosy-goosy now and have a kitty person along for the ride. I’m at J & J & J ….you get the picture, and am so happy here. I love those little poots. All of them. I’d move in with them if I could and be their prank-playing/co-conspirator who could teach them to make stuff and cook and bake. But Jenni and Jason have all those bases covered and are the best parents ever. These kids are loved, and taught, and trained, and expected to be responsible and are disciplined for their actions after they fully understand why they’re being disciplined, and are surrounded with the safety that only a loving, stable home can give. I’m just the crazy auntie who comes to visit and smother them for awhile and moves on. Yes, more often than anticipated lately, but still…..

      For now, from a little boy’s bedroom with a styrofoam cup of Coke on the side table, a cat sleeping under the bed, and three new Oklahoma State tee shirts Jenni bought for me while I was gone this morning looking for cat toys to teach a very young cat how to play again, have a great August 28…….and be safe out there.