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The Fourth Wall

If on a winter's morn a cat lover ...

She is about to begin reading today’s column with the expectation that it will be about our cat.


She will be disappointed. Somewhat. The cat (who henceforth will be referred to as Tiffany … that being her name) will wander her way into the column — but only during the telling of a dog story. It isn’t a shaggy one … the dog story, not the cat.


Tiffany (whose name was going to be Keiko before I was outvoted, 1 to 1) could not care less about being written about. She barely knows words other than her name — so the needle on her indifference meter wouldn’t be likely to budge, even to acknowledge that I properly used “could not care less” at the start of this paragraph.


So, getting on track …


There was this dog (name unknown) who decades ago in a galaxy far, far away (name of Massachusetts) took it upon himself to halt a high school football game by wandering onto the field in the middle of a play.


We once saw a butterfly cause a momentary pause by wandering onto the stage in the middle of a play at the Elizabethan Theatre (“The Winter’s Tale,” I think), but this particular dog would not be exiting, pursued by a bear. It was content to mosey about with no seeming intensive purpose from sideline to sideline, oblivious to his surroundings.


Or so we thought.


The cat’s … umm … Tiffany’s like that as well. We once tried to see whether she would recognize the photo that accompanies this column (years back, when it was named “Rogue Viewpoint”), by taking the newspaper out of the grocery bag where it had been put away for recycling, and placing my face in front of her.


She quickly became enamored … with the grocery bag.


I was attending the dog-delayed football game in my role as sports editor for the local newspaper. I was perched on a berm at about the 30-yard line, standing between the home team’s hockey and girls' basketball coaches, each of whom I’d written about on a consistent basis. The three of us watched as the dog made a path Bill Keane could have used as a template for young Billy’s dash-dash-dash adventures in a Sunday panel of “The Family Circus.”


Tiffany’s much more direct in the paths she takes to reach her objectives. And while she doesn’t hint at recognition when my face appears in the newspaper, she has no trouble seeking me out when she wants to take a nap.


On this we are one, and make far better nap buddies than Ross and Joey did on “Friends.” Tiffany and I have a symbiotic relationship (she purrs me to sleep, I supply body warmth) — much as bug-eating egrets and bug-bothered cows share when one stands atop the other.


(It starts to make sense if you think of the cat as the egret.)


Getting back on track …


What the dog wanted soon would be clear, as he made his way across the field and up the berm — directly toward us — as the football game resumed.


The dog sniffed about, then lifted a leg and peed ... directly onto my sneakers ... before ambling away.


“That’s amazing,” offered the basketball coach.


“I know,” deadpanned the hockey coach. “Who knew dogs could read?”


While this story seems too good to be true, I am sometimes honest by chance — and the memory of my pee-stained sneakers came to mind after scanning through the online comments attached to recent columns dealing with the Florida school shooting.


“Idiot,” “fool,” “elitist,” “blathering nonsense” … at first I thought my parents were posting from the Great Beyond until I realized that a) they never used the internet while they were alive, and 2) I doubt they’ve bothered to figured it out since.


So whether such comments come from down the street or the outskirts of Owattagu, Siam, enjoying the freedom to lift one’s leg and offer editorial comment is what makes America the country it is today.


For now, though, the cat — a wee-bit foggy on her little feet — comes looking for her nap buddy. Who am I to disappoint an egret?


— Mail Tribune copy editor Robert Galvin, who can be reached at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com, still calls his cat "Keiko" every so often.

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