21  A Cool Drink

Some oenophiles prefer red wine, and some prefer white. Some like dry wines, and some like sweet. Some beer aficionados brew malty brown ales, and some go for hoppy IPAs. Some people stick to juices, soft drinks, or water, bubbly or still.

Bingley’s a water and milk kind of guy. He likes filtered water, and he prefers it cool: sometimes he’ll even lick the icy condensation off the windows when the season changes and outside temperatures grow colder. Fortunately, from the time he joined us he was pretty good about drinking water. After a meal, he’d shift right over to his water bowl to wash it down with deft flicks of his tongue.

More recently he’s become a milk lover, too, enough that he sometimes neglects his water. After breakfast especially he’ll saunter out to his special milk bowl in the dining room and stand there at attention waiting for me to pour. I try to get him to play first, but often he’ll just stand there and stare at me as if to say, “You know what I want now.” If I don’t hop to it, he’ll ask for it with a high-pitched “miiiilk” with a rising and then falling tone. If he won’t play beforehand, he’ll play afterwards: milk is now part of his routine, but preferably before play . I love the thoroughly happy sound  he makes as he drinks:  “laplaplaplaplap.”

I must take care, though, in how I serve it. Bingley gets CatSip from a small blue box, and when we get to the bottom of the box and I try to pour the last half-ounce or so, I may get some bubbles in the milk. The first time that happened, he didn’t drink. He just looked up at me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.


“What’s wrong with that.”

“I don’t like the bubbles.”


I picked up the milk and stirred it with my finger to remove the bubbles and then put the bowl back down.

I could tell he wasn’t happy with how I did it. He gave the milk a supercilious sniff, drank a little of it casually, and left the rest.

Since then I’ve taken care not to leave bubbles when I pour.

Once my wife did something even more terrible: hoping to improve his water intake, she mixed a little water with the milk.

Bingley took one one look in the bowl, glared at her, and stalked away.

Neither of us has made that mistake again.

Some Scotch drinkers add a little water to bring out the flavor, I’ve heard, and I even read in a wine guide that some French people will add a little cold water to their Beaujolais in the summer.

But some of us remain purists.

* * *

When the semester ended a few days ago, one of the students wrote a note at the end of her exam: “Tell Bing Lee I said ‘merry Christmas!'”

I thought about the name. It suggests Bingley is a mixture of Bing Crosby and Bruce Lee.

He does like to vocalize:  sometimes he’ll stroll around the basement crooning “marooow rooow rooow ow, marooow rooow rooow ow”: the sound echoes, and I think he finds that amusing. That must be the “Bing” part. And when he plays with one of his toy mice, he can get really quick with a snap of either left paw or right paw, and if he’s in the right mood and we swing a toy above his head, he’ll leap up and kick it with all four paws at once. That must be the “Lee” part.

To describe Bingley accurately, though, you’d have to mix in someone really cuddly. I’m not the right person to guess if that was true of either Bing Crosby or Bruce Lee, admirable as they were in their very different ways. You’ll find better singers and kickers, but you’ll have a hard time besting the Bingley Cat for cuddly.