88: My Boyfriend Bob

88: My Boyfriend Bob

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

My Boyfriend Bob

Cats know how to obtain food without labor, shelter without confinement, and love without penalties.

~W. L. George

“So, Lenka, do you have a new boyfriend? Who’s this Bob you’ve been raving about?” My coworker leaned against the side of my cubicle with a curious smile on her face. She must have overhead me talking to our receptionist.

“Bob came over last night, so we were just hanging out. We had dinner together and then we just snuggled on the sofa. I watched Grey’s Anatomy while he dozed off. I might see him again tonight.”

I winked at my coworker as I reached to answer my phone. She was so eager to learn about my mysterious admirer. Where did you meet him? What does he look like? Does he have a head full of dark hair? Her inquisitiveness put me into a mischievous state of mind. Why not keep Bob’s identity a secret for now? It certainly sounded like I got myself a loyal companion — and I did.

Bob was a neighborhood cat who started hanging around our apartment building one day. My neighbor Alex and I thought that he might be a lost cat and she even called a local SPCA to see if they could take him. It’s a good thing that she didn’t succeed in her attempt. As she later found out, his owner lived across the street. Ever since she moved to her apartment, Bob turned into a wandering star — and our street was his playground. He’d stay at home during the day, resting after a busy night. When the evening rolled around, he’d get up and set out to make rounds. It was time to check on his neighborhood friends, including Alex and me.

Overtime we established a routine, with Bob waiting devotedly for me at the doorstep every evening. He’d come in, have a snack, tuna being his favorite, and he’d fall asleep on the sofa next to me while I was catching up on my favorite TV shows. After a couple of hours he’d wake up, stretch his long paws — and take off, walking down the shared balcony. His next stop was Alex’s apartment, just two doors down from me. Sometimes he’d take a long nap, and that’s when Alex would come knocking on the door, making sure he hadn’t forgotten about her. “It’s my turn, now,” she’d chirp softly, trying to lure Bob into her arms. We found ourselves in this love triangle, with Bob being the center of our attention — and we were getting a kick out of it. Both Alex and I wanted to make sure Bob divided his time equally between the two of us. His name, so unusual for a pet, confused quite a few people, including my coworkers and even one of my dates.

One Friday evening I was meeting a new guy for drinks. Bob was still snoozing on the couch while I was getting ready for the date. I decided to wake him up, hoping he could walk out with me so he wouldn’t be stuck in my apartment. I gently stroked his back and scratched his belly but he was sound asleep. Bob suddenly took a swipe with his paw, sinking his claws into my skin. As I quickly backed off, his claws ran down my hand, leaving ribbons of scratches behind. I tried to pick him up and carry him to the door but he skillfully escaped my embrace and curled up on the couch again. We wrestled a little longer before Bob finally got up and left. I wasn’t necessarily happy about my victory. But I didn’t want him to be stranded in my place when he woke up and I was not there.

Now I was running late, and by the time I got to the bar the marks on my hand were puffy and burning a bit. “I’m so sorry I’m late,” I apologized. “Bob was hanging out at my place and when I tried to get him to leave, he scratched me.” I waved my scratched hand in front of his eyes. I was sure he’d understand. After all, this was Bob we were talking about.

So why was the guy still staring at me blankly?

“So… there’s a guy at your place? And he doesn’t want you to go out? So when you do, he scratches you?” My date hesitantly put down the cocktail menu. Who is this woman who has a man at home, goes on a date with another one and brags about the wounds he inflicts on her? I burst out laughing. I forgot that my date had no idea who Bob was. It was our first meeting after all. I told him about my part-time cat over a couple of raspberry mojitos and we shared a good laugh. Bob’s escapades eventually became a favorite topic to discuss during most of my first dates, especially when there was no connection or no common things to talk about. It turns out Bob was a good judge of character, too. I ended up dating one of the guys but Bob would not come near him. He must have sensed that I was not in good company — and he was right.

There were days when Alex would get home late, and by then Bob had already left my place. I’d occasionally hear Alex roaming around the neighborhood and whistling into the dark. “Bob! Where are you?” Bob sometimes stayed at her place overnight. One night I was woken by a noisy banging at my front door. I quietly tiptoed to the door but couldn’t see anyone through the peephole. So who was making this loud ruckus at two in the morning? I groggily looked out the window. Two eyes glowed in the dark of the night, staring in my direction. Bob sat at the doorstep and was using his paw with all his might to hit the screen door that wasn’t closed all the way. He figured that if he did that, it would slam against the main door and make enough noise to wake me up. I kept the screen door slightly opened all the time so that Bob could come in and out when the main door was open. I later found out that Alex was not home that night and, since I was just steps away from her apartment, Bob decided to stay at my place.

I was adopted by a cat — but I didn’t mind at all. I enjoyed his company without having to worry about keeping a litter box in my small apartment or finding someone to take care of him when I traveled. He wasn’t the snuggly type that jumps into your lap, but he enjoyed being in close proximity to me and often followed me curiously around my place. And one thing was for sure — I knew that I’d always see him again the following day.

Unfortunately our property manager wasn’t taking good care of the building and it got to the point that I decided to look for a new place. I wanted to stay in the same neighborhood — and after a couple of weeks, I found an apartment just one street down. I was finishing cleaning the apartment when Bob sneaked in through the open door. He quickly scanned the place that was empty except for a few things lying around. He shot me a bemused look — and that’s when his inner feline came alive, wildly roaring around the hardwood floors, chasing a couple of plastic bags, jumping all over the clean counters and into the bathtub. Was this the same cat? Was this Bob? As I taped up the last box, I realized this was his way of letting me know he was upset. I wished I could explain to him that I was tired of sketchy neighbors and the building crumbling away in front of my eyes. Could I just smuggle him into my new apartment in one of the moving boxes? I knew he’d be safe frequenting Alex’s place but I still felt saddened as I closed the door of the empty apartment.

“Bob is waiting for you at the doorstep,” Alex texted me a few weeks later. My heart sank. By then a new tenant had moved into my old apartment but my furry friend still kept coming back to the same doorstep. Who says cats aren’t loyal? Although I only lived one block down, it was a long walk for a cat. I decided it was my turn to pay Bob a visit. So whenever I had the chance, I’d stop by Alex’s place to hang out with Bob, the busiest cat on the block.

~Lenka Leon

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