Clark was eating lunch with six male co-workers. He was about to tell the others that Gwen in accounting was having dinner at his place after work, but Fred, the one colleague he disliked, chuckled, “Hey, it’s like a guy who lives alone with a cat. You know, there are questions.”
Clark was the only one who didn’t laugh. He assumed no one knew he shared an apartment with Chester, a 15-year-old tabby. He feared Fred might say something like “At least you don’t have a cat.”
On the bus ride home Clark forgot about Fred’s comment and, instead, rehearsed how the evening would go. He’d open the door to the piercing meow of a hungry feline, race to the kitchen and open a can of foul smelling cat food. He’d give Chester 15 minutes to eat, toss the uneaten food and burn a scented candle to cover up the odor. Next, he’d reheat the lasagna he’d made the night before. The table was set, including the bottle of wine he’d uncork in front of her.
But when he opened the door, he was greeted with the stench of a bus terminal men’s room. Chester had diarrhea, about half of which was in the litter box. Clark dropped to his knees. The cat rubbed up against him. All was forgiven.
Although he cleaned with a vengeance, Chester’s gift was still present when he opened the door.
Gwen smiled, then squinched her nose.
“Pardon my cat—he’s not 100 percent.”
“I love cats,” she replied.
“I’m glad you do.”