Saturday, February 6, 2010

Le Chat Qui Me Fair Peur

There is a scary cat that lives outside of our apartment building. He used to belong to someone that lived here, but they moved somewhere that didn't allow pets, so they left their scary cat behind. That's the story, at least, that we heard from our neighbor, who leaves out food and a warm place for him to sleep. He thanks her by vomiting in front of our apartment door instead of hers.

Scary Cat has a meow so scary that I'm positive it means "I will slaughter you and your little cats too." His hair is falling out, and he is a little pathetic, like Arthur "Boo" Radley. (Incidentally "boo radley" is what we say in our house when we want to say "#%*#&." Abe started it, I think, which I love, because it's the first literary reference I ever heard him make, unless you count The Book of Bunny Suicides.)

I feel toward Scary Cat the way that I feel toward other unfortunate things that are outside of my control - a homeless man panhandling by the corner, children going to bed hungry, people wearing ugg boots or tights as pants. Those feelings, plus frightened.

Scary Cat used to run away when he saw me coming. He would meow his murderous "MEOWWWRRRR," glare at me, and run away. Today, I got out of my car carrying 100 groceries, and headed up the sidewalk. Scary Cat followed me. More like, hunted me. He crouched down low, and ran quickly. So I ran too. I thought I was safe for a second. When I hit the "lock" button and my car beeped, Scary Cat stopped for a second, startled... but only for a second. I am sort of ashamed to say that Scary Cat chased me up three flights of stairs, and is now crouched, waiting to kill me, outside of our apartment.

In French - or at least, in Cameroon - they have a word for these situations. It is "moeuf" (pronounced like "boeuf,"* meaning "get the boo radley out of here"), said loudly and rudely, usually thrown in the direction of a mangy street dog, sometimes along with a sharp kick to the animal's ribs. I always felt bad for the dog... until today. I wanted to "moeuf" Scary Cat all the way down the stairs, but it turns out American cats aren't familiar with the term.

*See 0:55

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