I’ll Be a Real Cat Lady, Someday by Mildred Romero

This morning I got up with the sun like I always do. I don’t have a rooster like I did as a child in Norfolk, but it’s become an ingrained habit to wake up three hours before it’s strictly necessary so I can sit and stare at the wall for a while. It’s my thinking time. Time to review my life, make new goals and reaffirm old ones. And today I pledged once more to myself that, 10years from now, my meaningless existence will have finally come to something. I’m going to be a real cat lady.

My 40th birthday, back in July, was both a happy and melancholy time. Somehow I felt that I was falling short of my cat lady potential, and all I wanted was to talk it out. Ideally I would have 429 purring bodies around to listen to my tale, shedding enthusiastically on my deathly allergic son and giving the producers at TLC something to drool over. But I decided back then that since I haven’t reached the summit of my dreams, I would turn to the ones who have seen me through thus far.

However, Chia Pets aren’t very talkative. And they’re even less responsive to emotional outpourings than your average cat, which is impressive to say the least. Even so, they’ve seen me through my darkest days and are kind enough to let me practice my cat lady abilities on them. They’re very understanding of my dreams. There’s Henry the Hedgehog, Sally Squirrel, Mitchell the Manatee, Rachael Ray, Mr. Buttons the Great White Shark, Happy Pol Pot… all of them hold very special places in my heart. Each day I water their bald Chia heads until they sprout, and then I trim them carefully so that they don’t ever feel neglected. I’ve honed my skills for years on their baked-clay backs, throwing tea parties and making sure they get along with new additions to the family. It’s stressful work, but someone has to put in the time. I’m happy to do it.

Sometimes, though, I think about what could be. What if Happy Pol Pot was actually a Russian Blue-Egyptian Sphinx mix who happened to enjoy torturing small furry things? And Mr. Buttons a particularly ravenous domestic shorthair with a tendency to sharpen his teeth on passer-by? And Sally Squirrel could just be a squirrel, but a real one, with fur instead of bean sprouts! There are endless possibilities to ascend that next level of dementia-ridden grandeur, if only I can find the right transitional point – but it continues to elude my increasingly arthritic grasp, due in large part to the fact that I really, really hate cats. I’ve been told that this flaw in my plans could be a fatal one, but I refuse to succumb to those who doubt.

The determination to be a real cat lady will not be extinguished. I know that Rachael Ray understands, and that the day I graduate to the highest echelons of true shut-in hoarders will be a proud one for my Chia family. So here’s to you, Rachael Ray.