43: The Dinner Party

43: The Dinner Party

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Cat Did That!

The Dinner Party

The trouble with cats is that they’ve got no tact.

~Sir Philip Sidney

Twinky and I were soul mates — right from the first time she stared deep into my eyes. We spent all our time together once the busy house emptied each morning. Kids off to school, husband off to work, and the day was ours. She followed me from room to room as I did housework and laundry. She sat and listened if I chatted on the phone. When I went outside to work in my garden, she shadowed me and would take particular pleasure in hiding among my plants. Then she would leap out when I least expected, always eliciting a little scream in return.

In the afternoon, when I made my tea and sat down with a good book or my knitting, she would lie beside me on the couch and purr. That was our cuddle time. If ever I was home alone in the evening, she was my faithful companion. If I went out, she never failed to meet me at the door.

But, as in every close relationship, sometimes you let each other down.

One night, my husband and I had invited three couples for dinner. I was used to entertaining, but it was generally casual and relaxed when we hosted family or old friends. This time we had invited my husband’s boss and his wife, along with another business associate and his sophisticated spouse. Everything would be decidedly more formal. I had met all of them at company functions over the years, but had never entertained them in my humble home.

To round out the table I had invited a third couple — my good friend and her husband, a comfortable pair I could depend on to help put me at ease.

I had agonized over the menu, done the baking ahead of time, and had already cleaned the house, but that day I was still running around frantically. Everything had to be perfect. My laidback husband could not understand why I was a nervous wreck.

“It’s only a dinner,” he said, advising the kids to stay out of my way.

But he forgot to warn Twinky. My poor cat could not understand why I was so upset. We hadn’t even had our daily cuddle.

In an attempt to calm me, she repeatedly wrapped herself around my feet as I charged about my kitchen. After tripping over her for the umpteenth time I did the unthinkable. I yelled at the poor little creature to get out of my way, and pushed her out of my path with my foot.

Twinky flew out my kitchen, bewildered and heartbroken, and headed down the basement stairs. I immediately felt terrible, but had no time to dwell on it. I had too much to do.

That evening when the doorbell rang, everything was ready. The kids were all out for the night, and no cat was to be seen. Our guests, leaving their coats and boots at the door, entered noisily and made themselves at home. The wife of the business associate presented us with an expensive bottle of wine, taking care to inform us it should be opened at once and left to breathe.

We chatted in the living room while the wine aired in the kitchen. When we finally sat down to eat, I felt that everything was going well. The meal turned out great, my husband was at his charming best, and our guests seemed to hit it off tremendously. The wine was excellent. I started to relax as my good friend gave me a wink.

That was when the cat reappeared from nowhere and headed straight toward my feet.

“Oh, isn’t that cute,” remarked my husband’s boss. “The cat is playing with his little toy mouse.”

I looked at my husband in horror. Twinky did not own a toy mouse.

Twinky put down the very-much-alive mouse at my feet. The mouse ran wildly under the table and then bolted for the living room, with Twinky in hot pursuit.

Pandemonium broke out. Two out of four ladies screamed and leapt to their feet, their husbands looking on bemused. I had never been so embarrassed.

Without missing a beat my good friend turned to me and queried, “Oh dear, did you forget to close the cage again?”

The evening ended soon. Our distinguished guests headed for the door and grabbed their footwear. Where was the mouse now? Hopefully not in anybody’s boot.

Our old friends stayed behind to rehash the evening and help us search for the mouse while Twinky watched disdainfully. After that, much to the relief of my family and my cat, I did not attempt many formal dinner parties. And Twinky and I forgave each other — soul mates till the end.

~Virginia Maher

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