Marrying Into the Food Chain
Well, it has finally happened – after all the prayers, and all the cursing, and all the, “I will never, ever, not in a million years tie myself down to one man” statements, I have finally met the man of my dreams. The one who not only accepts me as I am, but also accepts my neurotic animals as they are. That’s a tough combination. If you knew me, and you knew my animals, you would understand my new husband’s predicament a little bit better.
First of all, it takes a very strong person (although a family history of mental illness also helps) to want to enter the food chain. It’s not for the meek. No, my friends, entering the food chain is to undertake a journey of incredible magnitude, it could even be called an odyssey of sorts.
There are many conditions you must meet and accept before you can enter the food chain. For example, you must learn not to question the all night pitter-patter of feet across the rooftop. You must learn to ignore the banshee cries of feral cats as they run through the night, fighting amongst each other for the best looking feline, despite the fact that they are all “fixed.”
You must learn to sleep through the constantly changing audience of feline and canine bed partners as they walk over you in the night, vying for the best position and refusing to move, although you are sweating beneath the blankets from all the body heat. And while learning to disregard all of the noises and movements, you must remain alert at all times in the event an injured cat makes an appearance. (Even in the cat world, word spreads quickly of your “Dr. Doolittle” ability to care for strays.)
Somehow, in between all of these unnerving events, you must manage to get enough sleep to maintain your day job, so that you can finance the numerous animals that you have added to the food chain. After all, you are at the top of it. You are the pack leader, the lioness of the pride, the alpha, the head honcho…
Sam not only does all these things, he does them well. In fact, I’m a little jealous at times. Now when our somewhat suicidal cat, Ghost, feels a little insecure, it is to Sam that he runs for encouraging words. When Tristan the coyote is misbehaving, it is Sam he listens to for correction. When the animals are due for their annual vaccinations, it is Sam who they trust to hold them. And when Mama-San, mother of many cats, makes a rare “pet me” request, it is Sam’s lap she curls up in. Why? Because Sam has the gentlest of souls that only unicorns and other fantastical animals are aware of on any conscious level.
I’ve been told my entire life that no man in his right mind would ever agree to me having these pets. And up until now, my response has been, “…then I shall have no man in my life”. Sam, however, has proven to be the exception to that rule, and not only accepts me as I am, but our pets as they are. It is not uncommon to walk into the family room after a hard day of work, and see four or five cats piled on and around Sam as he dozes, the coyote lying at his feet.
When we are faced with yet another $1,500 veterinarian bill in less than a month, Sam’s response is to look at me and shrug, “What do you do…” he says.
It’s a statement, not a question.
The answer is obvious. We pay the bill and return home, (hoping for a lot of “float” time) and while I begin writing yet another story for publication, he runs off to work to pull as much overtime as he can. And it always works out.
Yes, I am indeed fortunate to have met such a man. And he, in turn, has been fortunate to meet us. He is now an integral part of the food chain and I, like our animals, wonder what we had done without him for so long…
*This is an excerpt from the book, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One)