4: It Takes a Licking

4: It Takes a Licking

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

It Takes a Licking

Sleeping together is a euphemism for people, but tantamount to marriage with cats.

~Marge Percy

My wife Julie hates cats. I use the word “hate” purposefully because she does not simply dislike, she most undoubtedly hates them. I believe what happened early in our relationship contributed to this animosity.

Julie was never fond of cats even though she grew up on a farm where there were cats, but these, she tells me, were outside cats — mousers. These cats would crowd around as she was milking the cows. Some cats would drop down from the rafters and scare her. Others would crowd around her feet hoping to trip her so she would spill some precious cream. At times, some would be bold enough to actually jump into the pail of milk, thus ruining the contents. On those occasions, Julie would then suffer the scorn of her parents who relied on the sale of the milk to make ends meet. So it is with these eyes — cats are mischievous, devilish, downright despicable and the cause of the many ills of the world — that she perceived all cats.

We both lived in the city when we met and were dating for over eight months when we were asked to Julie’s sister’s acreage to help put up a playground for her kids. I think it was a test to see if I was marriage material. If I could be around the potential in-laws for a day and be coerced into slave labour, then book the church, send out the invitations, and hire a preacher, the wedding was on.

We started at 9:00 a.m. The work was exhausting, as we were building a wooden jungle gym complete with rope ladders, a swinging bridge, a fort, a slide, a couple of swings, and roped monkey bars. By 8:00 p.m. most of the work was finished except for a few minor details that could be completed in an hour or two. But we were too tired to continue and decided we would complete the job the next day. So, with apprehension, Julie agreed to stay the night.

I say apprehension because her sister had a cat — a molly. This was a house cat — a beautiful marbled tabby with spectacular green eyes. It’s funny how females tend to engage in competition and quickly establish their territory.

This cat loved me. She hissed at Julie.

As we sat around the supper table, this cat rubbed herself against me, sat on my lap, and purred, all the while glaring at Julie. Julie simply looked at me with disdain as I overtly showed my affection for this pristine feline.

That night Julie and I slept on a pullout couch in the middle of the living room. As I said, we were physically exhausted from the day’s work, so I quickly fell into a deep sleep. And then it happened.

Around 4:00 a.m., when what one dreams and what is real become confused, my subconscious was slowly being tickled in a sensation of wakefulness. In a groggy, sleep-gravelled voice, I murmured my approval. My giddiness woke up Julie, and her clear, succinct, stark voice surprisingly woke me up to sudden awareness.

“In what world do you think I would be licking your armpit?”

I looked over to my right and there was the cat licking my armpit like a child licking ice cream. Apparently, she liked the combination of sweat and Old Spice.

“I thought you were being kinky,” I said. “You know, all the fresh country air and…”

“Think again, buddy!”

My dear wife enjoys telling and retelling this story to people every time I suggest we get a cat, or when she wishes to explain to people how weird I am, or how she still married me even after this event, which is a testimony to the strength of her character.

To date, we have been married for twenty-five years. In this time, we have never owned a cat nor do I think will we ever have one. And just for the record, after all these years, my wife has never licked my armpit.

~Manley Fisher

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