Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Naked Truth

At the age of three, my brother was outside one afternoon building a sand castle and fielding bids from developers to subdivide it into condos. In the midst of this flurry of activity, he spied the family cat, Sam, from the corner of his eye and noticed that the Siamese was in need of cleaning. (How he determined this “need” is still an open debate at family gatherings.) He scooped up the filthy feline beneath his arm and started toward the house. (Most cats choose the time and place that they’ll allow a human to pick them up, and this is usually done with both arms cradling them. So, being hooked under the midsection with a small and somewhat-less-sure arm was surely an affront to this cat’s dignity.) My brother entered the house and made for the bathroom.

Kicking open the bathroom door, he noticed the air was warm and steamy. Someone had already run a bath. Happy day! So, he slid open the glass door on the shower/bath and discovered my dad was already in the water with soap bubbles floating on the surface – someone to whom he could delegate the cleaning chore and get back to the sand castle! Gathering his wits about him, my dad greeted my brother and asked if there was something he needed. My brother simply looked at him, cat still squirming to get free from his captor’s devilishly tenacious grip, and said, “Sam needs a bath.” Before this could register in my dad’s brain, my brother flung the helpless feline into the water with my dad and summarily closed the glass door.

This little family vignette touches upon a number of issues: real estate development, early childhood education, animal rights, hygiene, the fact most grown men won’t admit to indulging themselves in the quiet and therapeutic pleasure of soaking in a tub – my dad will probably kill me for telling this story – and the need to have a fully stocked first-aid kit readily available when you have small children around. However, the most interesting thing about this story is what it tells you about yourself.

1. Concern for the cat: If your thoughts went immediately to what became of the cat after being tossed into the tub with a naked man, you like long walks on the beach by yourself (because you know your cat’s not coming close to the water), you prefer to work in a cubicle, and you tend to pick your toenails on the couch.
2. Concern for the dad: You fall into the category in which you and others like you like to watch sports on big-screen TVs, you’ll eat anything if it’s covered in Ranch dressing and/or cheese, and you will drive ten miles out of your way to get gas for $.01 cheaper.
3. Concern for the son: This indicates that you are most likely under the close supervision of a physician, you identify most with Batman (the only major superhero with no real super powers), and you have a proclivity for crème-filled treats.
Although you must agree that this analysis is dead on the numbers, I won’t be so cruel as to not tell you what happened to the parties involved in this little fiasco: the cat had to be brought down off the ceiling by two men wearing body armor and the gloves you see worn by people who handle hawks and eagles, my dad proved far more agile than we had ever seen him in the past or since, and my brother refused psychotherapy and went on to West Point and later to Harvard for an MBA – that explains why so many CEOs are just plain nuts!

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