When I moved to my first apartment, I brought along my little gray cat Billie.
Billie had been a gift from a cast member in a production of Sound of Music I had just done, and I loved her dearly.
Billie loved my first apartment – because she was entertained all day by the mice that lived in the walls. Hey, I’m just thoughtful that way.
My next apartment did not come with mice in the walls. It did, however, come with another cat. A big gray tom cat, whom I named Harold.
I named him Harold, because, being deep in my Monty Python fandom phase, I believed him to be that most dangerous of animals and thus, he was named after Harold the Clever Sheep.
Harold did not so much belong to me, as hung out with me from time to time. He would wake me up in the mornings by walking along the extremely narrow sill on the outside of my bedroom window. I still don’t know what exactly he was walking on – to all appearances, there was nothing there to walk on.
Once I was awake, he was allowed into the house to finish off Billie’s breakfast.
He also would wait for me to return from work, and go in and finish off any food Billie had left unfinished during the day.
Once, I went to McDonalds, and returning to my car found Harold laying in the back seat of my car; apparently enjoying the trip.
He was a very mellow and pleasant boy.
However, Harold lived in terror of Billie – and for good reason.
When Billie felt Harold had overstayed his welcome inside HER house, she would chase him. Harold would try to dive under the sofa – except Harold’s butt could not fit all the way under the sofa. So there was Harold with his front end under the sofa and his back end sticking up, undefended. And Billie would just bat at poor Harold’s balls until I stopped her (which I endeavored to do as quickly as possible – right after I stopped laughing, because fuck it was funny).
Harold was a clever sheep, though. He learned after a few run-ins with Billie and her batting paws, that the best option was to simply sit down and refuse to move until Billie was removed from the scene. And that made me laugh too.
Then my work schedule changed and I didn’t see Harold for about a week. When I came out of the house on the following Saturday, I found Harold laying in the driveway, almost too weak to move; and I realized that he had been depending on my schedule to provide him with food – and I realized that Harold was now my cat.
When I moved from the house, back into my Grandma Harris’ house, much as I wanted to, I couldn’t take Harold with me. Grandma’s cat Skittabootch was barely able to put up with Billie and she certainly wasn’t willing to stand for a male cat moving into her queendom.
Luckily, my folks agreed to take in Harold.
Harold immediately became best friends with their Siamese Raja – and they were inseparable, even curling up together in Raja’s little cat bed.
Sadly Raja died. Both cats were outside when the City sprayed for mosquitos. The poison killed Raja, but Harold survived – but thereafter, his head was crooked (nerve damage) – he looked like a child’s drawing of a cat with the head not quite right; but despite his goofy appearance, he lived to a ripe old age.
My mother often complained about me naming Harold Harold.
Their neighbor’s name was Cheryl (who kept sheep, coincidentally), and Mom would be outside calling Harold (there was a big orchard behind the house – perfect for safe kitty roaming). And often Cheryl would call out – “What do you want, Betty?” And my Mom would have to explain that no, she was calling for Harold, the cat.
Hey, what could I do? Harold was the only name for that most dangerous of animals.