My father celebrated his 59th birthday this week.
Yes, he’s young and no, he doesn’t act it.
Anyway, for his birthday, my brother and his girlfriend decided to get him a kitten. This is an absurd gift idea for many reasons.
Briefly, here we go.
1. My parents travel a lot and they don’t really have time for a pet.
2. My mother is allergic to cats.
3. My mother doesn’t like cats.
4. My aunt, my mother’s youngest sister, is very allergic to cats.
5. Neither of my mother’s sisters like cats.
6. I am very allergic to cats.
7. I am agnostic about cats, but I definitely don’t want them in my home near my pillows or on my bed or otherwise near my stuff.
Okay, 7 is an odd number for a list, but I can’t think of anything else.
Anyway, despite the coalition against the cat idea, my brother – rightly – thought that my father needed a healthy project. And if that meant that it caused my mother unrest, all the better.
So my brother told my father that his birthday gift was a kitten. Off they went to meet these kittens and they saw the one – a boy – that they were going to adopt. My father fell in love. My mother was skeptical. After watching this kitten and his smaller sister playing, my parents decided that they couldn’t separate them. That’s rights. So instead of one cat, they got two.
Right now, in my mother’s house – and near her pillows and such – are two kittens. (Talk about words I never thought I’d hear myself say… or write!) They are black with a little white here and there, and my father loves them. He bought them toys before they even got home. I can say, almost definitively, that my father did NOT buy a single item for me or my brother prior to our respective arrivals.
Anyway, in one of my mother’s rants about these cats, she was going on and on and on about how shocked she is about how excited my father is about these kittens. She said, “I mean, really. In 34 years of marriage, I’ve never seen him this excited. I don’t get it.” I then hear in the background from a male voice, “Reen… of course he’s excited… he’s about to get to new pussies.” It was at that moment that I realized that my mother was calling me from her friend Jerry’s house. Jerry, who has been doing my mother’s hair since they were both 19, and who has never produced the same shade of blonde twice.
Even my mother has admitted – amid a stream of anti-cat rhetoric, mind you – that these kittens are cute. In fact, she referred to the girl kitten as “My little girl.” This used to be me. But I’m okay with a little competition. Really.
Still, my mother can’t help herself. She likes these cuddly kittens, but she also sorta hates them. She wants to play with them, but she doesn’t really want to touch them or have them touch her. She wants to treat them like her new babies, who she will love and photograph and talk about to anyone who will listen, but she also finds them irritating, dirty, and sorta gross.
G-d, I really am my mother. This is a problem. Which I will save for another time.
So I asked my mother what the kittens names were.
Me: So what did you name these kittens?
Mom: Your father named them.
Me: Ok, what did HE name them?
Mom: Peaches and Herb [said like the name Herbert].
Mom: Wait, Peaches and herb [said like the noun].
Me: Wait, what?
Mom: That’s their names. Peaches and Herb. [Said like the name.]
Me: [fit of laughter]
Mom: It’s that ridiculous. I mean, who names a cat Peaches and herb. [Said like the noun.]
Me: [Still cracking up.] Ma, it is Herb, like the name, or herb like the spice?
Mom: It’s what I said. Peaches is the girl and herb, I mean, Herb – like Herbie – is the boy.
Me: [Still laughing uncontrollably.] Where the fuck did Daddy come up with these names?!
Mom: They’re singers. Peaches and herb. [Saying it like the noun again.]
Me: I’ve never heard of them. I’m going to Google them right now.
Googling produced a number of hits… and then this.
I know Peaches and Herb! Love this song! Oh, and don’t forget this one…
I spoke with my father today and asked him about the names. He said that Peaches and Herb are just under consideration right now. Apparently there are other names in the mix. My mother is pushing for Thelma and Louise or Lucy and Ethel. I don’t think she’s accepted that one of the kittens is a boy.
We’ll see what happens. But now I’m rooting for Peaches and Herb. Or herb.