I have a flesh and blood sister, Joon. And I have a flesh and fur sister, Tawnee.

Since we were a military family, we never had pets. So when we moved to Randomville and it looked like we were staying here, Joon and I lobbied hard for a cuddly something.

But our dad always said no. In fact, he said NOOOOOOOOO.

And then one week our dad went on a trip. So we got a cat.

It wasn't really that simple. We saw a kitten in our cove one day, and Joon and I rescued it. And by "rescue," I definitely mean "begged our mom to let us have it." She wouldn't let us, though, on account of she was a submissive wife in those days. She did, however, let us put a box on the porch for the cat, and we could spend all the time we wanted to petting it--outside.

I named her Tawnee. At the time I was heavily into Whitesnake, and David Coverdale was dating Tawney Kitaen. It was a little joke with myself: Tawnee Kitten. I've always been a nerd.

When we talked to my dad that week, we mentioned Tawnee and asked if we could keep her. He told us unequivocally no ... I mean NOOOOOOOOO. And we all cried buckets that night, but we were obedient back then so we knew we wouldn't be keeping the cat.

The next afternoon we went out into our neighborhood to try to find the cat's owner, if she had one. We came to one house with five billion kids in the yard and asked if they'd lost a kitten. "Yes," said one greedy little bastard kid, and took Tawnee out of Mom's hand. Then he started turning circles, and HELD OUR CAT BY THE TAIL AND SWUNG HER AROUND.

"You must be thinking of another cat," my mom said, and snatched her up and turned us around toward home.

Tawnee slept inside the house that night, and when I woke up, there she was, sticking her butt in my face. "She wants you to know she used a litterbox," Mom said.

Once again, Dad told us that the cat had better be out of the house when he returned, and we all sobbed ourselves to sleep. But we still had her when he came home, and we were in trouble.

But a funny thing happened: Tawnee was well aware of our situation. I know this because, from the day Daddy came home, she acted like he was the only person who'd ever walked the earth. He did everything he could to stay away from her, but she would not be stayed away from. When Joon and I got home from school the next day, Dad was in his recliner, and Tawnee was on his lap.

And that's how we got our cat.

I was fourteen, and Joon was twelve, when Tawnee came into our lives. We made up a song about her (Joon makes up songs about everything). It goes like this:

Our cat Tawnee is a mean old gal
When she gets hungry she likes to howl

The best part is "howl," because it sounds like this: "how-OOOOOOOOOL."

So maybe it wasn't our best effort, but it was fun to sing, and we cracked our own selves up. Also, that was the birth of the Old Gals. Tawnee was the original, and then Joon and I started calling each other Old Gal, then Old G, then O-G. The Beignet, Joon's Lil' Darlin', and Lulu are all O-Gs too. It's an exclusive club that started with a silly song.

Tawnee is a long-haired cat, and her fur was an inconvenience to us all. She had this great trick, where she'd poop in her litterbox and then run through the house like a madwoman. Only some of the poo would get stuck in her hair, and we'd have to run after her to make sure she didn't leave tracks. It was pretty gross, and it's why, eventually, Mom started shaving her butt. Tawnee's, I mean.

One time I tried to help out by giving Tawnee a haircut. It did not go well. I immortalized this event in poetry. (Not because I'm a poet, but because I had an assignment for school to write a poem in the vein of Poe's "The Raven," and it was a convenient subject.) Here it is (try not to be jealous of my awesome talent):

Once upon the floor I sat, and on my lap I had my cat
Whose fur was tangled up in several spots.
Thinking of a fast solution, I quickly made a resolution:
"I'll get the scissors and start cutting,
Cutting the tangles from her hair."

Quickly I went into action, never thinking of her reaction
And little bits of hair fell on the floor.
"I'll cut the tangles," was what I thought, but I soon learned
it was hard to stop.
The result was a bedraggled cat, looking so very miserable that
I looked at her and said, "Oh, my gosh,
I cut her hair!"

Looking at the cat in horror, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her,
But she looked so funny that I had to laugh.
Then I thought, "Oh no! My parents!" and wished for some degree of transparence
So they couldn't spank me when they saw the cat,
and couldn't miss the obvious fact:
I'd cut her hair.

Now in my dreams she comes to haunt me
Her eyes say, "Who did this?" Mine say, "Not me!"
And my folks say, "You must be her maid."
So she does gross things in her litterbox because
She likes to see me suffer while she laughs behind her paws,
And with a twinkle in her eye and a swish of her tail,
She says, "Ha ha!" That's what you get, for
You cut my hair!"

I was sixteen when I wrote that masterpiece. All based on fact.

Joon and I showed our affection for Tawnee by picking her up like a baby and hugging her. Tawnee did not care for that and, in fact, did not much care for US. Our dad often accused us of torturing the cat. That's what he said all the time: "Quit torturing that cat!" He didn't understand, because that cat was always going up to him and purring and being nice; Joon and I did not understand why she was so cold to us, when WE RESCUED HER AND DADDY DIDN'T WANT HER IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Tawnee died last week, and it was very tragic for all of us. She fortunately passed in her sleep; none of us would have wanted her to suffer, and FOR SURE none of us wanted to have to make a tough decision at the vet's office.

She was eighteen, which is like 140 for a cat, or something (My dad: "Leave that cat alone! She's over a hundred years old!")

Tawnee was a lucky little baby; she probably would have died if we hadn't adopted her. She was treated like a queen, that's for sure, and she was the boss in the house, there's no question. Toward the end of her life, my parents were paying upwards of $100 a month for her medication, and would have paid more if necessary.

But, really, we were the lucky ones. Because regardless of Tawnee's feelings (or lack thereof) for us, she enriched our lives just by being part of them. So ... thanks, Old Gal. We love you.


Dreamy said...

That was a GREAT pet story. I'm sorry to hear that she passed away, but thrilled to hear that she was so loved.

Marsha said...

She sounds like a terrific cat. I'm sorry to hear that she's gone. But wow, what great memories.

Joon said...

Haha, I forGOT about the song I made up about Tawnee. Can't you see us puckering our lips together and our chins in the air when "howl" was said? I laughed and laughed at that part. I also forgot that that's where OG came from. You have an awesome memory. Good story and pics, og.


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