Chasing Tail



I have to say I didn’t expect it.

Rex, our large male cat, is a hunter, as many of you know.  These balmy, spring days have been ideal for him.  A true sun-worshiper, he spends all day out of doors, only nipping in for a quick bite.  Then he’s back out to bask in the golden rays.  This is probably why he is covered with glitter lately.  Ruby spilled some “pixtie dust” in the driveway, left over from a fairy birthday party on Saturday.  He routinely lolls and rolls around on the driveway.

Rex, in his illustrious career as a predator, has caught moles, rats, mice, voles (I think), lizards, snakes and creepy-crawling things.  He likes that crunch!  He doesn’t do so well with things in trees, as he is rather hefty.  Hard to sneak up on a light,  feathered one when you’re a lumbering mass yourself.

But he always coveted the squirrels. They are at the top of the prey food chain, it appears.  He would trot up the hillside, stalking them.  They would taunt him:  “Chee-chee!  chee!”  was their little haughty jibe delivered from their high perches fringing our property.

No more.

Today, I watched him slink up the hillside, all shiny strength and stealth.  I thought, Here we go again!

Then he came down with something large and gray in his mouth.

It was a squirrel.  A big one.  Probably one he’d been drooling over for months, possibly years.  “Taunt me, will ya?  I’ll get you, my pretty!”

He carried it carefully down the hillside.  Ruby and I looked on in awe.  We couldn’t believe it.  We’ve watched him with mice and such, but nothing so big.

He wouldn’t put it down.  Or couldn’t.  In fact, he didn’t seem to know what to do with it.  It’s as if he wasn’t sure what the protocol was.  Do I eat it?  Do I dance for joy?  Do I let – God forbid – Chloe have a nibble?

And so, in the end, he dropped it in the side yard.  It is – was –  a full grown male.  It is very, very dead.  Mercifully, he did not try to bring it in the house.

Now, right about now, you might feel sorry for the squirrel.  I like to watch them.  Their energetic scurryings are delightful.  I feel for the mammals.  But once you’ve had one gnaw into your house and make a nest for herself and her newborn babies, you kinda lose any love for them.  Besides, they’re good eating.

It made me think.  Some of the things we’ve wanted so much in this life, we’ve gotten.  We chased after them, hard.  And we got them!  Yay!  Now what?  They aren’t worth much, in the end.  I remember as a freshman in high school wanting very much to be in Wind Ensemble, the elite band. I wanted to be part of the best.  Problem is, there were too many flutes.  We had to audition.

I remember lurking outside the bandroom door and seeing that list on yellow legal paper and…I had not made it.  I was devastated.  But if we were going by chairs, why did Misty get in?  She sat below me in chair rank.  So, I questioned it.  My band director, a kind-hearted sort, gave in to my protests.  I was in.  Misty initially said she didn’t want to be in W.E. anyway because she would have to change up her entire school schedule…then she changed her mind.  Our director let several of us in, just to be fair.  It was a hollow victory.  I made the most of it over time, but I wasn’t sure how to feel at first.

I figured out I had to decide I belonged.  I worked hard.  I practiced a lot.  This band was all about expression AND accuracy.  I learned piccolo.  I traveled for festivals.  I marched wearing our lovely red, black and white polyester uniforms with girdle-like elastic on the shirtwaist. That’s what held the uniform pants up.  The red feather in our caps was the coolest part of that outfit.  Now you know. I played for pep band.  And little by little, I *did* belong.  I proved myself.  It was worth it, after all.

Rex is not going to do anything else with the squirrel.  It lies bereft in the changing light of the yard, rigor mortise setting in on this trophy.  Tonight I will move it to the trash.  Rex fulfilled a feline fantasy today.  I wonder what will be next?

What are you chasing after?  Will it be worth it once you catch it?


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