64: The Stare Down

64: The Stare Down

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

The Stare Down

Never try to outstubborn a cat.

~Robert A. Heinlein

My days always wind down with the same routine. Dinner has been cooked and eaten; the dishes have been washed and put away. I grab the newspaper and the television remote control and lean my tired body into the cozy corner of my living room sofa. Then I curl my legs under me as my little black and white tuxedo cat, Chuck, takes his place in front of my seat. It’s a Norman Rockwell moment of domestic bliss — until the staring begins.

Chuck sits on the floor in front of me as still and straight as an ancient sphinx, fixes his glowing yellow eyes on me and stares. And stares. And stares. I ignore him as best I can, lifting the newspaper at just the correct angle to block out his hypnotic gaze. Though I resolve to concentrate on reading an article, I continue to sense his unnerving presence. I flip through some advertisements and peer over the newspaper’s edge. Chuck is still there, his eyes firmly fixed on me.

I lay down the newspaper and give good ol’ Chuck a tickle between the ears. He doesn’t move. “C’mon Chuck,” I say, “let’s watch some TV. I’ll put on Animal Planet.” Though he shows no interest in my generous offer, I flick on the TV anyway and focus my attention on the show, hoping he will follow suit. He does not.

Within a few moments I hear some stirring in the other end of the house and, heralded by the sound of the television, my husband soon joins us at his seat on the opposite end of the sofa. Chuck still doesn’t move a muscle. Or his gaze.

“Will you look at this?” I say to my husband. “Chuck is staring at me again.”

My husband gives me a noncommittal grunt and I poke him in the shoulder, “Hey! How come Chuck never stares at you?”

He yawns. “Chuck’s just not that into me.”

The top of my head starts to pound and I feel the heat rise in my face. I bend down to stare back at Chuck. Maybe a dose of his own medicine will stop him. He never even blinks. Can cats blink? I wonder as I move forward for a closer inspection. Chuck doesn’t flinch. I lean back into my seat and lift the newspaper before me again until the heat generated from Chuck’s laser eyes burns a hole through its pages. I toss down my smoking paper.

“That’s it! You win!” I tell him as I spring from my seat. “The sofa is all yours.”

Chuck makes one swift bounce onto my warmed spot, curls up and starts to purr.

I, on the other hand, stomp into my bedroom and close the door behind me. From there I hear an odd staccato sound: not quite meow, not quite purr. I take a deep breath and turn my head toward the living room for a closer listen. From where I stand, I could swear Chuck is laughing at me.

~Monica A. Andermann

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