Thursday, March 29, 2007
Once upon a time there were two writers who lived next door to each other, and they each had a cat.
One cat, called Offset, was an enormous, long-haired magnificent beast. Old ladies would queue up down the street for the honor of petting him as he sat patiently on his owner’s front porch all day from sunrise to sunset--accepting the admiration that was his due.
The other, more of a kitten really, was called Epub. She was small, even for a kitten, and distinguished only by a freakishly long tail. When people saw her they peered curiously a while, wondering ‘is that a cat?’ and then moved quickly on.
One fine day Offset was sitting on the porch when Epub wandered over.
“Don’t sit next to me,” Offset huffed. “I only hang out with real cats.”
“I am too a cat,” Epub squeaked. “A very extraordinary cat. My owner loves me very much. And I have a tail so long that they still have a cage for it at the animal shelter even though I was adopted from there twenty years ago.”
“Writers don’t really care about tails,” Offset replied smugly. “They are only interested in what comes in advance. And they want to have something to sit in their lap. Something they can pet without squashing it. Something real.”
“No,” Epub insisted. “Writers really just want as much cat as they can get, they don’t care how it is distributed. My tail is so long that I am sure if you added it all up I would actually be at least as much cat as you.”
“So let me get this straight,” Offset said. “You are actually twenty years old and would still lose a sumo match with a cockroach? Because, ya know, if we were drawn to scale you would be 1% of my size, your tail would be no larger than a thread of cotton. I think I am still far more cat than you in quantity as well as quality.”
“…A thread of cotton that could be theoretically infinitely long.”
Offset was beginning to think that he wasn’t really get much out of this conversation, except that the little old ladies might think less of him for associating with such riff raff. “In theory,” he muttered, “theory and practice are the same thing. In practice, you will find, they are somewhat different.”
“…Besides,” Epub pressed. “I am growing. I am growing over ten percent a year!”
“Ten percent of nothing is still nothing.”
But Offset felt a slight annoying tickle in the back of his head, a very small but growing worry. For although nobody in the neighborhood had noticed yet, he knew that he had been losing weight. Only a few percent a year, but still. He desperately wanted to get up and walk away from the disquieting freakish kitten but he dared not. For then the old ladies might appreciate that, although otherwise regal and magnificent, Offset had no tail--no tail at all.