Human hair, cat hair, all the hair

Posted on March 26, 2015 by

imagePeter and Caitlin often write heartbreaking, detailed, delightful blog tributes when they lose a pet, and I admire them the more because that is not really my way. I thought I might write something, eventually, when Rumble died, but it didn’t happen. I’ll have to hope that since I so aggressively document the wonder of our cats while they are still pulse-equipped and photogenic, it evens out.

Prior to Rumble, we had only ever gotten kittens who were tiny – six weeks old. He was twice that, and seemed incredibly mature in some ways. Still a kitten, obviously, but old enough to have full run of the house as soon as he joined us. This meant, among other things, that he was bouncing his playful kitty butt all over the bed each night, at the rental apartment belonging to the man known as Frank the Entropic Landlord, as we slept.

I have let my hair grow out since 1995, which was when I shaved it for Clarion West. In the night, if I happened to roll over or even move my head, Rumble would pounce on any moving tresses that happened to drag over my pillow. Having your hair pounced while you’re unconscious, it turns out, is a great way to be compelled to flutter your eyelashes. This, in turn, is a spectacularly successful gambit if what you want most in life is a litter-encrusted kitten paw thrust straight  into one or both of your eye sockets.

I dig being sighted, and soon, with Kelly’s help, I was keeping my hair in French braids pretty much all the time. It wasn’t something I could do myself; I have tried periodically over the years, and made multiple abysmal failures of it. The principle seemed obvious enough, at least for the single braid, but the execution has for years been completely beyond me.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I was thinking about a story problem in the current novel. This tends to be the sort of thing that triggers absent-minded attempts at tasks that are physically beyond me. And blow me down, I sort of managed the single braid! (I can’t remember the plot problem, which means I probably solved that, too.) It wasn’t good, exactly; it didn’t go very far, and the whole process depended rather heavily on my being able to stick the left-hand tress in my mouth. But braid happened! It was still recognizably braid a couple hours later, when Kelly got home.

I rather suspect that the primary difference between all of those other tries and this one is that yoga has made it possible for me to hold my arms above my head for vastly longer periods of time. Or possibly to reach the back of my head at all.

This unexpected success also wasn’t, entirely, a fluke. I figured I had forged the faintest beginnings of a neural pathway, so I might as well see if I could push it further. (No, I actually thought that. Yes, I am that much of a nerd). I have as a result braided my own hair perhaps a half dozen times now, and many of the attempts have been at least marginally better than the one proceeding.

It is a weird thing. Rumble didn’t really cause it. It leaves me thinking about him just the same. He has been gone a year, almost. Going suddenly, as he did, meant he never had a shitty, protracted, painful vet-infested old age. I’m glad he was spared that, and the kittens are wonderful. But even so, and at odd times, the hole still yawns.

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