I decided to make Martin Luther King Day a day of cleaning out some dust from the attic.
That meant going through some of my old boxes from years past. Throwing away some of the needless crap, like old homework assignments from my sophomore year of high school. Or mementos from the past that must have seemed really important at the time but I no longer have any memory of, like empty Hot Tamali boxes and meaningless ticket stubs.
In doing so, I came across a polaroid photo of a beautiful Maine coon cat named Mongo. Mongo was owned by my best friend in high school, Joyce.
Of course, I had to take a photo of the photo using my phone, to send off to Joycey.
I remember Mongo well, because my parents never let us have cats when I was growing up. My Nana, who lived with us, was scared to death of them. Seriously, if any stray cat wandered into our yard, she would lock herself in her apartment until it was gone. She was almost as scared of Toms as she was of Jerrys. But I think she'd probably have to admit that mice were a little bit more frightening.
As a result, Mongo was the first cat I ever spent any time around, which sounds pretty pathetic, I know. Nowadays, having two cats, they're just a part of the scenery. Back then, they seemed strangely exotic, for some reason.
I remember Joyce asking me if I wanted to pick Mongo up, one of the first times I went to visit her. I found the experience incredibly nerve-wracking. "Just make sure you provide some support, with your arm," Joyce advised me. I tried, but I'm not sure how supportive I was. After about a minute, Mongo could endure no more and scampered away.
Alongside the photo of Mongo, I discovered some of the silly plays I used to write, mostly for Joyce's amusement. They were usually satires of various people in band we used to know. The jokes fall rather flat, nowadays, although there were a few items that still make me laugh.
Take, for example, a parody I put together of the National Enquirer, which I called the "Nuptual Enquirer." It was filled with stupid, nonsensical articles like: "Bennie Benson: Why I Love to Ski with Freddie Frechette." Aside from the headline, the entire article read as follows: "'Yes, I do,' answered Bennie, when asked this question."
Or this fine work of journalistic integrity:
Class President Wins Pledge Contest
Senior class president Lori XXX recently demonstrated her flair for saying the Pledge of Allegiance, classily called "the P" by those fabbo student council folks. According to one eye witness, "Lori was in top form that day. Many of the others said 'we' instead of 'I,' at the start of the P, but not Lori! She got up the 'pledge' before fucking it all up."
I had an advice column called "Dear Monkey." It was absolutely absurd, with completely ridiculous questions and useless information.
Help! My wife is being strangled!
That's very sad.
My feature article was called "THE SONG I WAS SCARED OF!" It was an "untold story" of a music teacher I had in junior high that I called "Moe" Valente.
"Terrified," music teacher Moe Valente sobs. "My fingers tremble every time I see it!"
One look at Moe and you can tell that he's the kind of guy you just know will make a jackass out of himself. He considers himself prompt, strict, and prone to never make a mistake. And this is true, admits good old Moe. In his words, "Yes, that's true."
But in all of the dangerous, cuthroat world of music, there is actually one song that even Moe is afraid of. It's called 'The Book Report," and it's said to visciously attack him if he even so much as glances at it.
Impossible. Stupid, even? No.
Moe tells of the first time that he realized that 'The Book Report' had a thing against him.
"I heard from a friend that it would be a good song that my kids would like to play," said Moe. "So, I decided to buy it."
However, in an hour, Moe knew something was different about this tune.
"It started to call me rude names, like 'Babycakes' or 'Pleasure Prince.' Also, a lot of the musical notes on the page disappeared and lipstick marks appeared, instead."
At the time of printing, 'The Book Report' could not be reached for comment.
At the bottom of the box was a note from Joyce, a response to one of my plays. She had written it as a psychiatric evaluation by the noted therapist Melvin A. Padoodle. Included in the evaluation was the following notation: "Ted, your writing shows many facets of your personality. Several characters were likeable, but a lot of their actions were outrageously silly. Your file says that so far we haven't had any reason to resort to shock treatment, pills or enemas and the like for your therapy, as we have with other patients of your class. Keep up the good work."
After all these years, I am happy to report that some cats never change.