Here’s what I don’t understand,” Grant Toews was saying, as Andrew Jackson pulled a chair up to the window table at the café and sat down. Grant paused to greet Andrew with a nod, as did Bob Billings and Harold Schlamp, who were already seated at the table.
“Good morning gentlemen,” said Andrew. “Don’t let me interrupt the flow of conversation.”
“We were discussing gun culture in the USA,” said Harold.
“Ah, I see,” said Andrew. He looked at Grant. “So that’s what you were saying you don’t understand?”
Grant shook his head. “Nope,” he said. “Bob said that. Bob said he doesn’t understand America’s gun culture, and that reminded me of something I don’t understand, which I was going to say, just when you showed up.”
“What don’t you understand Grant?” said Bob. “Does it have to do with guns?”
Grant shook his head. “What I don’t understand,” he said, “is people who have cats.”
There was a brief pause.
“Interesting,” said Harold.
“Not very,” said Andrew.
“No, think about it,” said Grant. “Why would anybody get a cat? Like, it’s easy not to. I do it all the time. I go to the cat store and I look at all the cats and then I go, ‘I don’t want any of these,’ and then I go back home. It’s not hard.”
“Some people like cats,” said Bob.
“I know, but why?” said Grant. “You know your cat is just using you so it doesn’t have to eat mice. If your cat leaves a dead mouse on your pillow, it’s not doing that to let you know how much it loves you and appreciates everything you do for it. Basically it’s just saying, ‘Well, I’m not going to eat this crap but you can if you want.’”
“That’s a valid point,” said Harold.
“I know,” said Grant. “Like, if people want a pet, why don’t they get one that can at least show a little love and affection? Like a tarantula, or a fish.”
“Really?” said Andrew. “How does a tarantula show affection, pray tell?”
“Oh come on,” said Grant. “It’s simple. If you have a tarantula roaming around the house, then every morning when you wake up you can say to yourself ‘my tarantula loves me.’”
“Why could you say that?” asked Bob.
“Because if it didn’t, you wouldn’t wake up,” said Grant.
“Another valid point,” said Harold. “You’re just full of valid points today.”
“I know,” said Grant. “Here’s another one. Ask yourself this. How long would you survive, if your cat was the size of a Great Dane?”
“That’s not a point,” said Andrew. “That’s a question.”
“Not much of a question,” said Harold. “And the answer is, obviously, not more than five minutes, probably.”
“Exactly,” said Grant. “And even if you did survive, imagine what it would be like to live with a cat that size. Every night when you went to bed you’d be like, ‘dang it Mittens! I told you to stop leaving dead antelopes on my pillow!’”
“The plural of antelope is antelope,” said Andrew. “Not antelopes.”
“Whatever,” said Grant. “Having your cat leave a dead one on your pillow every night would get really annoying after a while.”
“So, what are you saying?” asked Bob. “People should just get a dog?”
“I have a dog,” said Harold. “And I read that a dog has the same intellectual capacity as a two-year-old child. I also have a two-year-old grandson. I don’t know which one I should be more disappointed in.”
“Has your grandson ever launched himself at full speed into a closed patio door because he can’t tell the difference between an oak leaf and a squirrel?” asked Grant.
“Only once,” said Harold.
“Well then he’s still smarter than a dog,” said Grant. “Also, it’s a good thing full speed is slower for a two-year-old child than for a dog.”
“That’s true for so many reasons,” said Andrew.
“Well, I have no trouble understanding why people have cats,” said Bob. “My wife has two of them and it’s great. She loves them and they love her and the fact that the cats spend most of their time plotting to kill me is actually kind of adorable. Sometimes I think the cats’ hostility towards me is the reason my wife is so nice to me. Because she feels a bit guilty. I’m good with that.”
“So what you’re saying,” said Andrew, “is that having cats reduces your hostility towards other people?”
“Maybe,” said Bob. “Maybe cats are the answer.”
“The answer to what?” said Harold.
“I don’t know,” said Bob. “Everything? American gun culture?”
There was a moment of silence.
“I doubt it,” said Grant.
“Probably not,” said Harold.
“No way,” said Andrew.
Bob sighed. “I didn’t think so either,” he said.