Today Chuck visited his dad, a 70-something who was probably wearing the same thing as Chuck at the time. Maybe his hoodie was a different color, and that hoodie probably didn't have custom holes through which one can thread iPod ear buds. Chuck invited him to come over and see the new place, and Mr. Chuck said he would stop by after his nap -- and bring his small streamlined white puff of dog, Penny.
"That's fine," Chuck told him. "Although, I'm not sure Toonses has ever seen another animal before, so ..."
[Later Chuck told me that he thought this would be a bad idea. He also thought it would be pretty funny.]
That's not necessarily true, that Toonses hasn't ever seen another animal, but close. About six or seven years ago I was living in this rickety old apartment where the closest thing to insulation were the pita chip-sized flecks of lead paint littering the floor.One winter afternoon on my way out into the world, I slammed the back door too hard and it bounced back open without me noticing. When I got home in the middle of the night, the entire back of the house was wide open and the temperature inside had dipped to just below cryogenics. There was a foreign cat hanging out in my computer room, obviously staking his claim of all things AOL and Limewire; Toonses was hiding in my bedroom with a particularly narc-y look on his face, all but pointing a paw at the other cat and stuttering about how "... and thenStripe chewed through the chord of the alarm clock and ate an entire family pack of the Colonel's Original Recipe!"
We got rid of the foreign cat that day, but Toonses lived on in my mind as an animal that is a bit of a, well, pussy.
So that didn't happen today. As soon as Penny pranced into the room, Toonses went into his defensive crouch. And when Penny sampled Toonsie's Iams all hell broke loose. Toonses' growling drowned out Penny's yapping. He climbed onto his hind legs and boxed the puppy's ears and clawed at this eyes. He nipped and bayed, and frankly scared the crap out of Penny, who had to be locked in the bathroom for her own protection.
I was told that if Toonses had front claws, blood would have spilled.
I'm so kind of ... proud of him. And, yes, because he is a vicious dog-killer. Also because he protected his territory. And for as much as I don't necessarily like cats, I'm totally not feeling little dogs. Anyway, we've taken to calling Toonses "Rocky" tonight. And when he was getting a little chatty, Chuck looked at him and said: "Yeah, yeah. We know. You fought today."