If there’s anything worse than having your heart broken in high school, when your fragile emotional identity is still developing, probably badly, it’s having your heart broken in elementary school, when it’s just sad, and you don’t even know why it’s sad, and you don’t even know what you can do to fix it. Actually, maybe that’s not true. In elementary school, at least you can still play with your “Star Wars” figures. They won’t judge you for your sobbing.
“Why Must I Chase That Cat?”
By Will Harris
This is a story I’ve told countless times to countless people, even working it into my review of the movie “Little Manhattan,” but it remains one of my favorites, and whenever Valentine’s Day rolls around, I find it’s always worth re-telling…
All men have stories of their first love, and here is mine, so let it be told: it was 1980, and the girl’s name was Kathy Hawbaker. She lived a street over from me, and she made me feel funny in my tummy whenever I looked at her. I was only nine years old, but having already received all the information on love I was sure I was ever going to need (courtesy of movies, TV, and Top 40 song lyrics, thank you very much), I decided to make a romantic gesture to Kathy on Valentine’s Day.
I bought a card and a box of candy — both of which ended up being far smaller than I’d originally planned, since my bemused mother assured me it was the thought that counted — and took the suddenly-interminable stroll from my house to Kathy’s. I knocked, her dad answered, and then he called to her. She came up to the screen door and I presented her with her gifts, somehow getting out the words, “These are for you.”
Kathy opened the door and, as she took the card and candy, uttered those three words that every nine-year-old boy longs to hear:
“Oh, my cat!”
Before I knew what had happened, her cat had shot past my ankles. With card and candy in hand, Kathy ran past me and retrieved the feline from the yard, then ran back past me, went inside, and closed the door behind her. I stood dazed for a moment, then, upon the realization that my first-ever romantic gesture had come to a decidedly anticlimactic end, I walked home sobbing, and, upon coming through my own front door, proceeded to take as much comfort as my mother was willing to offer.
I ask you: is it any wonder that I’m more of a dog person?
If you look at a Chinese calendar, you’ll see that 1980 was actually designated the year of the monkey. For yours truly, however, it will always be remembered as…cue the Al Stewart, please…the “Year of the Cat.”