Back in the days before I became an Old Fart, when I was just a Young Fart, before I met The Long-Suffering Wife, before the kids, before The First Wife, when I was in college, I had a cat. I probably shouldn’t have had a cat, since I was a starving college kid in a tiny apartment and I between work and school and work and homework I was just a bit busy. But a neighbor had a litter, I looked at them and picked out the slow, dimwitted one, and named him Murphy because he was always in trouble. Then I got into a different apartment for the last two years of college, and Murphy went to live with my parents for the duration.
After graduating college and getting married, there was a period when The First Wife and I rented her parent’s house to live in. Part of the deal was that we also inherited the family dog, who was also named Murphy. In this case, it was because they had gotten her from a family named Murphy, so it was “Murphy’s dog,” which got shortened.
On moving into the house, all was chaos, as moving often is, especially in the initial combining of two collections of stuff. There were boxes everywhere, furniture in various states of reassembly, piles of stuff that may still be sitting in my garage to this day, unknown and unknowable. Into this environment I retrieved my cat.
In order to avoid too much confusion, immediately the two creatures became known as MurphCat and MurphDog.
The MurphCat was a tiny, skittish critter who had only ever known my apartment and my parent’s house. Bringing her into the chaos caused her to find a safe, dark, hidey hole from which she would come out only when all was quiet, to eat the food we kept putting out for her. Once in a while I would hear her so I knew she was alive around there somewhere, but she wasn’t coming out to face this new reality any time soon.
The MurphDog was an old, old beagle-ish short of dog who was possibly the most friendly and easy-going canine in the history of the planet. It didn’t matter if you had seen her every day of her life or if you were a total stranger, if you would pet her or feed her (even better!) she would sit at your feet and soak it up for hours. She was having a good time with the chaos. Lots of new things to sniff and play with.
The first full weekend after we moved it was a roaster, up in the 90’s at least. My priority task, like it or not, was to tackle the back yard which had been neglected for months and was now waist high. The First Wife was off on some errand or another, so grabbed my machete, lawn mower, and bug spray and dove into the task.
Two hours or so later, sweating like a pig, sunburned, dehydrated, wearing only shorts and about to drop, I let the MurphDog out to check out the work. I got something to drink and, with no furniture yet to sit on in the living room, lay down on the carpet in front of the television to watch the ballgame and recuperate. Needless to say, I was asleep in five minutes.
As the house was now quiet, the MurphCat came out of her hiding spot to look around. The only familiar thing she found was me. She took the chance and curled up on my chest to fall asleep herself.
What a peaceful scene.
Which brings us to The First Wife coming home, oblivious to my position or condition in the living room. She sees the MurphDog sitting out on the back porch, wanting to come in, so she opens the screen. MurphDog goes exploring and finds me and the MurphCat.
Friendly dog. Loving dog. Curious dog. She knew that the MurphCat was around, her nose still worked just fine, but she hadn’t been properly introduced. Here was her chance!
The MurphDog padded over, stuck her nose about 2mm from MurphCat’s sleeping nose and quietly said, “Whooof??”
The MurphCat opened her eyes only to see the most humongous, terrifying, slavering, drooling beast in the world, no doubt about to eat her in one gulp!! She extended all eighteen razor sharp claws and dug in hard for maximum acceleration, going from zero to 9,000 mph in just under two seconds. Unfortunately, her navigation was a little off and she slammed into the leg of the kitchen table about five feet away, then started staggering around the kitchen in a daze.
I awoke suddenly to find my chest ripped open, heart surgery without benefit of anesthesia. From dreamland to intense pain in a fraction of a second, I made it to my knees before I started howling. There may have been some bad words said. Loudly. In Klingon.
The First Wife started laughing hysterically, laughing so hard that she literally could not stay on her feet. It’s a good thing that I come from a people that clot and coagulate well or I could have bled to death before she would have been able to call 911 or help.
The MurphDog just sat there, observing this all dispassionately, wondering what all the fuss was about. After all, she just wanted to say hello to her new housemate. What had happened?
In the end, the MurphCat recovered whatever senses she had and was none the worse for the self-imposed concussion. The MurphDog and The MurphCat became great friends. The First Wife finally caught her breath and figured out what had happened. I eventually healed, although to this day you can still see eighteen thin, horizontal scars across my chest. It became one of those family stories that gets laughed at every now and then. And my mother-in-law bought me this T-shirt:
Nope. Still not funny.