Cats are the most popular pet in most western countries. That’s because they’re furry, extremely cute, make a soothing purring sound, and help their owners procrastinate whenever they jump on our laps. Good kitty. Daddy didn’t want to defrost the fridge anyway. I’d rather pat you instead.
Cats living with humans dates back over 10,000 years. But in all that time, there is not a single documented case of a cat ever thanking its human cohabitant. In ancient Egypt, people worshipped cats as gods. To this day, that’s still how most cats see themselves.
Throughout history, cats have served many valuable functions for their owners. In many early civilizations, as cats became domesticated, they were kept as a means of chasing away snakes and killing mice and other rodents in order to protect the grains in storage.
It is speculated that cats were once used to herd sheep and cattle. However, historians say this practice was believed only to be associated with one group of people in medieval Wales. Apparently this terribly in-bred population suffered from a genetic defect in which everybody was severely near-sighted, and thus they mistook cats for dogs. Before long, this society appears to have died off, most likely from widespread starvation – because they kept losing their food supply of sheep and cattle. It turns out even back in the 700s, cats were terrible at herding. Many generations later, the entire tribe was posthumously given the Darwin Award.
In more recent times, cats have been adopted into families as household pets – mostly by lazy couples who preferred cats over dogs because they’ve concluded that getting up at 5am on a December morning to walk the dog and scoop up its poop on a frozen sidewalk was way too much work.
Throughout my marriage, we’ve owned cats as pets, typically two or three at a time. Don’t worry, I never became one of those “crazy cat people” with a dozen cats – because my wife would never agree to this. We love our cats dearly, but over the years, we’ve had to replace several living room chairs and many blown glass vases, thanks to our cats’ hardwired obsession with scratching furniture and knocking onto the floor anything on a counter that looked expensive.
In recent years, I have found yet another extremely useful function for our three cats, Buddy, Zippy, and Monster: I frequently use them to get out of having to help my wife with chores. That’s because we have a tacit agreement: Whenever one of us is lying on the couch, and there’s a cat on our lap, we mustn’t disturb our furry friend from their peaceful slumber.
As a result, whenever a cat is looking adorably cute, lounging comfortably on my lap, I get an immediate hall pass to avoid helping my wife with any chores until my fuzzy feline decides it’s time to move on to something more fascinating – like a nearby twist tie or a piece of lint. And our giant moose of a cat Buddy has been known to park himself on my lap for hours at a time, all but guaranteeing I won’t have to lift a finger for the rest of the afternoon.
This is our cat named Buddy. He’s huge. And he loves nothing more than to park himself on my lap and stay – usually within 30 seconds of when I was planning to get up to make myself a snack.
This system has been working wonderfully for me. For example, let’s say my wife could use a little help in the kitchen cooking dinner. As she’s getting close to the point where I anticipate she’ll likely be asking for my assistance, I make sure to grab say, Monster, park him on my lap and pat him until he settles in for a nice long nap. “Hey, honey, I would totally help peel the potatoes, but I’m stuck. I have a cat on my lap.” Chore averted.
But be careful not to abuse this strategy. A few years ago, during the peak of the pandemic, I was working from home. My boss asked me for my quarterly sales forecast. I tried to explain that I was not ready to present it at our Zoom meeting because there had been a cat on my lap for the previous two hours.
I figured my boss would understand. Turns out she had no sympathy for my predicament. I made the mistake of working for someone who was a dog person. (It’s my fault for not asking her about this during my job interview.) She had this crazy notion that focusing on my job during work hours took priority over patting kitties. Such a heartless person. I would have submitted a formal harassment claim to the HR department but I couldn’t – because I still had a cat on my lap – and our small company did not have an HR department.
I have been able to avoid raking the leaves, doing laundry, and power-washing the driveway for weeks at a time, thanks to this “Cat On My Lap” (COML) addendum to our marriage vows. But lately, our cat Zippy has been gravitating more to my wife’s lap than mine, thus ruining the balance of cat lap time that had been disproportionately favoring me. My wife is deliberately attempting to turn the tables by claiming “I’d be happy to help you with the gardening, but as you can clearly see, Zippy is parked on my lap.”
As far back as 2,500 years ago, in ancient Egypt, cats were revered. Here is a piece of funerary fabric depicting a cat trying to decide which priceless urn to knock over. It ultimately chose the one on the right.
Our COML agreement worked perfectly when Zippy preferred my lap to my wife’s. But lately he’s turned into a traitor. Even Buddy – who ALWAYS prefers me – has taken to preferring my wife over me for cuddle time. What’s going on??!! My wife has nefariously used this technique to get me to cook dinner three nights in a row – and clean the BBQ grill. So unfair. I think she’s bribing the cats, but I have yet to catch her in the act.
This has to stop. I’m going to start spraying all my wife’s clothing with a dog fur cologne. (I wonder if Amazon has this in stock.) Hopefully, they’ll start to view her with suspicion or even terror and return to choosing my lap over hers, thus restoring order to the cat universe.
I know, it sounds extreme. But when it comes to my relaxation and my desire to avoid helping out around the house, sometimes a husband has to take drastic measures.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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Most days, I try to live up to that inspirational Nike slogan: Just Do It! I answer my email. I do the chores – sometimes with only a few irreparable mistakes. I even exercise. Today, however, was not one of those inspired days. Today was a Just DON’T Do It kind of day.
I started with the best of intentions. Last night I wrote my goals for today – because I read somewhere that people who write down their goals are far more likely to accomplish them, succeed in life, bear attractive children and win the Nobel Prize than people who don’t. I had visions of forsaking watching The View and powering through my To Do list, even making dinner for my wife. Then I woke up.
Below is my original action plan for today, followed by the results I achieved. Well, maybe “achieved” is overstating it a bit. Let’s just say that my Nobel Prize is looking increasingly out of reach.
PLAN: 6:00: Out of bed. Shower, shave, brush teeth, etc.
REALITY: Turns out the snooze button taps out at 10 smacks. Skipped shower, shaving, etc. Rationalized that good hygiene is overrated – plus, saved on my water bill.
PLAN: 6:30: Make a healthy breakfast of fruit and low-fat yogurt. Maybe a kale shake.
REALITY: Maybe NOT a kale shake. Way behind schedule. (I blame Westclox, inventor of the snooze clock, circa 1959). Healthy breakfast preempted by a need to Google “Inventor of snooze alarm.” Scarfed down a frosted apple-cinnamon pop tart and a slice of cold pineapple-topped pizza. On the positive side, met my daily fruit requirement.
PLAN: 7:00: 45 minutes on the elliptical. Lift weights. (more…)
[Note from the staff at VFTB: This post was originally scheduled to run in September 2012, but Tim didn’t get around to it. He was extremely busy attending to more pressing matters, by which we mean trying to break his record score in Angry Birds.]
Do you wake up some mornings feeling overwhelmed by all the things you need to get done? Do you sometimes wish you could just stay in bed for another hour? Another six hours? The month of April? Wish you could avoid all the items on your never-ending to-do list? Well, then what are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time than right now – right this second – to start PROCRASTINATING!
Hi, friend. This is Tim Jones – professional procrastinator and author of the book Why do today what you can put off till forever (a future best-seller – if I ever get around to finishing it). That’s right, friend. Now you can discover my proven techniques to put off completing even the most urgent, unpleasant project.
Tired of your spouse nagging you with her “Honey-Do” list? I know I am. Well here’s my first tip: just keep stalling. Before too long, I guarantee that your spouse will stop nagging you once and for all. (Of course, her attorney may pick up where she left off.) Keep reading for more time-tested tips.
I’m not proud that for most of my adult life, I have tended to play it safe. I’ve always obeyed the rules and did what I was told. I’ve always used my turn signals, always separated the white from the dark laundry. I’ve always followed a predictable routine. If it’s 6:15 am, I’m hopping on the exercycle. If it’s 6:20 am, I’m in the bathroom flossing. A boringly predictable life.
But not anymore. I’ve decided life’s too short. I’m not going to be a conformist sheep following the herd anymore. I’m going to zig when they expect me to zag. I’ve decided to shake up my button-down life – starting by unbuttoning my collar. Hell, I just might not even wear a tie for work tomorrow. And there’s not a damn thing my boss can do about it (since I’m working from home tomorrow).
Lately I’ve turned into a rebel. It feels so liberating. My natural hair color is coffee brown. But last week, feeling in a dangerous mood, I dyed it mocha brown. I feel months younger. And look closely at my hair. I’ve started wearing my left sideburn an eighth of an inch lower than my right one – my silent protest to The Man that I will not conform to society’s rules anymore.
At sporting events, I now do the wave two seconds after the rest of my section. Sure it pisses off some fans. I’m living life on the edge.
If you’re like my wife, then after you’ve been married for about two years you probably realize your decision to get married was a serious mistake. Marriage is difficult, especially if your husband is a humor writer or if you have kids. If both of those conditions apply to you, then may God have mercy on your soul.
My wife Michele (who prefers not to be mentioned by name in my columns, so will henceforth be referred to as “the woman who prefers not to be mentioned as Michele”) and I have been married for 26 years. Like any married couple, we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve squabbled over trivial disagreements like why I always pull all the covers over to my side of the bed at night, what was I thinking the time I taught our 9- and 8-year-old daughters how to hitchhike, and my minor lapse of judgment when I hired a police officer stripper for a surprise party for my wife’s 40th birthday. Turns out my wife was not quite as impressed by Officer Cinnamon’s sexy pole dancing skills as my poker buddies and I were.
So yes, we’ve endured our fair share of marital misunderstandings. But there is one issue which for years has caused more heartache and strife than any couple should have to endure. That’s right. I’m talking about the differences in how we load the dishwasher. It is still painful to talk about in public.