Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Nu kitteh: We haz it.

About three weeks back – not even two weeks after we'd lost Charles Wallace – Jenn comes home from her 2-10 p.m. shift and says, "You're gonna be mad at me."

And, I admit, she was right, because she had a kitten tucked into her sweatshirt.

Here's the thing – we had four kittehs for a long time, and the truth is, four cats plus a dog pretty much put the Booth Wildlife Sanctuary at full capacity, even in Jenn's estimation. (And that's saying something, since she's always been quite the Rescuer of Strays and Adopter of Pets in Need.)

Frankly, having just gone through the whole round of vet visits and bills and the stress of putting Chaz Waz to sleep, I couldn't stand the thought of taking on another pet.

Yet here it was. Sickly little thing. Vertebrae that felt sharp as gravel through the fur on its back, ribs you could feel like the seams on a baseball. Jenn said it came up to her when she went to get in her car. Maybe it'd been dumped; maybe it was born to a stray and gotten lost, or its mom had died. It really was too little to be on its own.

And yes, I referred to it only as It, because I didn't want to name it, didn't want Jenn & Kelsey to get attached, didn't want this new responsibility and duty, and dammit, I still miss Charles Wallace and there seemed to be something unfair about getting a new cat now.

Jenn took it to the vet to see how old it was: Six weeks, they figured, and with a gut full of wormscourge stealing its food from the inside – the vet actually described its tummy as "ropy and angry" – and no, they couldn't take it off our hands.

So we're half-jokingly discussing names within a day or two because I know, I know, I KNOW that this is a losing battle on my part, and I come up with this compromise which Jenn & Kelsey agree to: If we keep this little guy, I, DAD BOOTH, am NO LONGER responsible for ANYHING which comes out of either end of ANY CAT in the house. I will help haul litterbox waste outside because it's heavy, but this adoption hereby absolves me of any cat poop in the library or urp on the floor, no questions asked. The proposal was accepted.

(Laugh if you want, call me a softy and point out that we're back up to our four-cat limit over my objections, but seriously – NO MORE CAT EXCRETIONS for me. That's worth a victory jig.)

Now – the name. We tossed suggestions back and forth. I wanted something science-fiction-y or geekish but not incredibly obvious. (Hey, it worked with "Charles Wallace.") Jenn & Kelsey want something adorable-ish. We go through a few dozen ideas, and none of them seem to stick.

Then we're in the car – on the way to Salt Fork, I think – and we're talking about how unique-looking this guy is, and Jenn mentions how neat it is that he's pure white underneath but with a "kind of peppery" asymmetrical blotch on top, and then she freezes mid-sentence and we look at each other: "Pepper."

Cute enough for my wife & daughter, and – since at the time I was in the middleCatPepper
of "Sly Mongoose" – when I hear "Pepper," I'm thinking ass-kicking survivor type who takes on zombie armies and giant mind-controlling species and isn't above attempting an atmospheric entry with nothing but a spacesuit and a heat shield. (Yet more thanks and a few apologies to Tobias Buckell for inspiring this paste-up job of Pepper and Pepper on his "Sly Mongoose" cover. Couldn't resist.)

That was almost a month ago, and it seems like Pepper's pretty much out of the woods now: His belly's full, his eyes are bright, and his spine is comfortably deep beneath the fur on his back.

And if the interstellar zombie invasion hits our house, we're in good hands. Paws. Whatever.

November 2, 2008 - Posted by | geek, Ohio


  1. Awwwww, he’s cute! Softie! ;)

    Comment by Cindy | November 22, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] My first actual waking hours of Birthday No. 40 came between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m., during which my brain was pretty much chattering along with all sorts of ideas for writing and stuff to remember while also entertaining me with Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” (Sorry. Some things you just can’t control.) Jenn woke up for a few minutes, and we had a conversation about the first few weeks after we adopted Pepper – two years ago this month. […]

    Pingback by On the 32nd anniversary of my eighth birthday. « Cornfield Meet | November 18, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] in crime was Charles Wallace. The last year and a half, she found a more than willing accomplice in Pepper, with whom she shared her tricks to getting into the double-spoon-barred cupboard holding the […]

    Pingback by Goodbye, Lucky. « Cornfield Meet | February 10, 2011 | Reply

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