17: Tommy Bangs Shampoo

17: Tommy Bangs Shampoo

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

Tommy Bangs Shampoo

With the qualities of cleanliness, affection, patience, dignity, and courage that cats have, how many of us, I ask you, would be capable of becoming cats?

~Fernand Mery

I didn’t want Tommy Bangs. When my husband and I decided to adopt a cat from the local animal shelter, my choice was a gold and white Himalayan. But Larry liked an ordinary, shorthaired, white and gray tabby that was already curled in his arms.

My darling, regal Himalayan spat and swatted at Larry’s arm. Larry’s cat yawned and butted his chin.

I rolled my eyes. I already knew the outcome of this showdown. Sure enough, the tabby went home with us. I named him after a naughty boy in Little Men, Tommy Bangs, and left the males to bond. It didn’t take long for my husband and Tommy Bangs to establish a routine. In the mornings and evenings after Larry returned from work, he’d trudge to the bathroom, the little gray and white cat trotting after him.

I didn’t have to get up so early, so I’d drift back to sleep.

One morning, Larry shook me awake. “Kar, you have to see this.”

I propped open an eyelid. “Now? Is it an emergency?”

Larry grinned and pulled off the covers. “It’ll only take a minute.”

Trailing a blanket, I trudged after him. I threw up my hands to shield my eyes from the brightness of the bathroom light. Tommy Bangs sat on the sink, admiring his profile in the mirror.

I glared, first at the cat, then at my husband. At 5:38 in the morning, I need a cup of tea before I can think, talk or function. Smiling isn’t even a possibility.

“The cat? You dragged me out of bed to stare at the cat?”

Larry patted the creature’s head. “He’s so smart. He washes himself.”

Before I said something that I would surely regret, I staggered back to the bedroom. “Unless he’s juggling balls and singing, I really don’t want to know!”

A couple of mornings later, I nudged Larry out for early morning necessities. Tommy Bangs was in the tub. We ignored each other while I finished my business and washed my hands. In the mirror, I glanced behind me.

Tommy Bangs caught several drops of water in his left paw. Instead of licking them off as I expected, he slapped the water on his face and scrubbed away. I rubbed my eyes and stared. He repeated the process with the right paw, the right side of his face. He methodically shampooed his chin, the top of his head, and even his ears the same way. He’d pause for a drink, then continue.

People take showers. Raccoons wash their food. Elephants cool down with streams of water. With the exception of tigers, cats are not supposed to like water. Not only did Tommy Bangs like water, but he shampooed his whole head.

Was he imitating my husband? Next, would he be requesting a washcloth and soap on a rope? I wouldn’t be surprised. I went straight to the source.

“Larry, you didn’t tell me that Tommy Bangs was your shower buddy.” I tapped my big husband’s arm. He shrugged on a blue shirt, a small grin on his face.

“I tried to, honey, but you aren’t exactly at your best early in the morning.” He kissed my cheek and fumbled with his cufflinks. “Hey, boy,” he said, calling to the little gray and white cat who jumped on the bed. Tommy Bangs purred and washed the rest of his body in normal cat mode.

I stroked the top of the cat’s wet head. “You can’t get any cleaner than a shower.”

“Yeah. But I’m sure he’s thirsty. His tea should be cool by now. He prefers green tea with honey.” Larry snapped on black suspenders.

Normally, I would compliment Larry on his dapper appearance, but my mind froze. My hand tightened on the cup of tea I’d been sipping.

Cat tea?

See what you miss when you sleep?

Weirdness.

~Karla Brown

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