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.

“Bubbles.”

“What’s wrong with that.”

“I don’t like the bubbles.”

“Oh.”

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.

22  Bingley on the La-Z-Boy

A couple months ago my wife got me a new lounge chair.

It may be the best gift ever, better than Ralphie’s Red Ryder BB Gun (I never wanted a bb gun). Whenever I fall into that chair, I sigh, and if I sit there for very long, I fall into a gentle, pleasant nap.

Bingley likes it, too.

Not long ago we stretched out napping in the chair. When I woke, Bingley had his eyes open, and he was looking right at me.

“I’m more than just a cuddle lion,” he said.

Still a little fuzzy-headed from sleeping, I thought about that for just a moment and said, “I know.”

He nodded agreement. “I just wanted to make sure.”

I didn’t say anything right away, so he went on. “I’m a house lion.”

“Yes, I understand. You’ve corrected me on that point.”

“I do all sorts of important jobs. Every morning, when we take our tour, I make sure you stop at every important spot. When you’re gone, I patrol the house. I check every window and I listen at every door to make sure no one’s out there causing trouble. At night, when you’re sleeping, I’ll stand at my window and keep watch.”

“Thank you,” I said. “You’re the best house lion ever.”

He closed his eyes and nodded contentedly.

Bingley continued. “I also make sure you get some play time every day. Not just workout time: play time, so that you relax and we run around the house together. I clean my dish at mealtimes, I drink from my water bowls, and I keep clean: you know, the litter box and all that.”

“I know you do. You practice exemplary cleanliness.”

Again he closed his eyes and nodded.

“Sometimes when you spill crumbs on the floor, I do my best to help you clean them up. But you don’t let me.”

“They’re usually not good for you, so I don’t want you to eat them, but I appreciate your effort nonetheless.”

One more nod, but that time he didn’t close his eyes: he stared at me intently.

“You’d like a treat, wouldn’t you?” I asked.

“Treat!” he said, and he leaped off my lap and trundled off to the pantry, looking back only once to make sure I was following.

A craftsman definitely deserves a reward for good work.

23  Bingley Talks about Rabbit and Kitty Boy

I told Bingley about “The Adventures of Rabbit and Kitty Boy” on kristydeetz.com. He asked me if “Kitty Boy” refers to him.

“Not exactly, thought the character in the paintings sometimes looks a little like you.”

“Did I inspire him, then?” he asked.

“Oh yes, absolutely.”

“Thank you,” he said, pleased. “I’m glad I helped.”

“You’re welcome. I couldn’t have done the stories without you.”

“Do I get paid?”

He’s been asking me questions like that ever since I mentioned making a living.

“How much would you like?” I asked.

“More than usual.”

I told him you can’t make “more” money when you don’t already make money.

He said, “Not money! More mmmao.”

“You always get plenty! You haven’t missed a meal since you’ve been with us except when you were sick. I doubt you could eat much more than we give already.”

“We could try.”

I knew I wouldn’t get anywhere by reasoning, so I just calmly looked him in the eye waiting for him to change the subject, which he doesn’t do very readily.

Finally he said, “Who’s this Rabbit character, anyway?”

I explained as well as I could.

So he’s not real, just imaginary. Am I real?”

“As real as anyone or anything can be.”

“But not Kitty Boy: he’s not real.”

“He’s just a fictional version of you, a character for stories.”

“Maybe I need to have more adventures so you can tell real stories about me.”

“Maybe. What adventures would you like to have?”

“Flying!”

“Flying? On a plane? Believe me, you wouldn’t like it.”

“No, not on a plane: that sounds terrible. Just flying, like the birds!”

So Bingley jumped into my lap and told me about how he wants to fly. Sometime I’ll tell you that story, too.