Monday, August 04, 2008

More on my favorite monster.

One of the many things I love about Jeff is that he is such a softie, and he was so very upset about Harold today.  It truly moved me.

For me, it's different.  I've lived with Harold for 11 years, and he wasn't himself today at all.  I said on Saturday that I thought we'd lose him within the month.  But it quickly became clear that it would just be cruel to let things drag on any longer.  His condition went from bad to unbearable overnight, and he was already gone when the vet came.  I can be oddly businesslike at times, but I think I did my crying about Harold, and I was ready to let him go.

A couple interesting things about this document, which came from my vet in Brooklyn.  One:  Harold truly did take a one way trip to California.  Two:  he weighed 14 pounds, which is now what our son weighs!  It's so weird what I end up saving.  Meanwhile, where the hell are my iphone headphones?  I've lost two sets of those things.

When I first moved to LA, I got a one bedroom.  For $550 a month, if you can believe that.  I remember looking around that place our first night here, and looking out the window, with Harold.

But he hated living alone.  He was very gregarious and missed my crazy Brooklyn roommates, who used to feed him fish when I wasn't looking.  Harold was the kind of cat who would come out during a party and sit in the living room, as if he were participating in the conversation. 

One day when I came home to the K-town one bedroom, Harold jumped up on top of a tall dresser, because I was busy on the phone and didn't stop to pet him.  He didn't quite make it all the way up, and seeing his desperate little face over the side of the dresser, while he held on with his front paws, really convinced me that he was not good on his own all day.  He was too social for so much solitude.

So the penthouse apartment upstairs became available--an enormous two bedroom that a couple who recently became unengaged was vacating.  It was $1100, which seemed expensive to me back then.  So I got a roommate who had two cats.  Harold was much happier there.

Harold and Julie wrestling in the penthouse.

Harold was a mad wrestler.  If I really wanted to play with him, I had to wear an old Columbia sweatshirt, so he could use his back claws on me.  He ripped that thing to shreds.

He didn't like to play with stuff that most cats like.  He really loved to interact with people.  Facsimiles of birds or mice or whatever did nothing for him.  He didn't even acknowledge the laser pointer.  He wanted to play with you.

But mostly, he was a lover!

Eventually I had to stop having roommates, because I had this funny idea that I should live on my own before I got into a real relationship.  I moved into another old building in K-town, where a whole bunch of other actors and writers lived.  They were mostly people from Improv Olympic, because the building manager worked there.  We had a lot of fun in that building.  There were always cool neighbors to hang out with, and we were all poor as hell.

We would trade stuff in the basement.  You could leave things you didn't need in the basement, and other tenants would pick those things up.  I still have a spaghetti serving thingemebob from there.  And it always cracked me up what would disappear from the basement.  For example, once I left (ahem) a sex toy down there.  (Someone gave it to me as a joke--I didn't buy it.)  I left it in the basement at 6:00 a.m., and it was gone by 7:00!  Meanwhile, a fully functional Juiceman juicer remained for weeks.  I learned from this experience that people like sex more than juice.

Harold in a sunny patch in my little Koreatown studio.

Of course, I knew that I could not leave Harold alone all day.  So I got him a pet: Bridget.

Both of my cats were cast offs, desperate for homes.  Harold came to me via my friend Jon, who was out of work and needed a "temporary" place for Harold.

Some other friends of mine captured a stray mother cat and all her kittens.  They spayed the mother cat and let her go.  She was totally feral.  The kittens became various degrees of tame.  Bridget was somewhere in the middle.  The nice thing was that she would never, ever have become tame at all, if it weren't for Harold.  She loved Harold and was afraid of all humans.  She would only approach me if Harold led the way.  Eventually, she came to see that I wasn't so bad.

Bridget biting Harold's tail.
Their relationship was so innocent back then.
Later, it became oddly perverted, as Jeff described below.

Harold would occasionally dash out the door of the K-town studio, into the hallway.  Then, he would look around, as if to say, "This is where you spend your time away from me?"  He never really knew what to do once he got out.  He was an apartment cat all the way.  But one day, I walked with him up to the roof of the building, and he stayed by my side.  It seemed he was more interested in having an experience with me than exploring the outside world.

I kind of regret that I never tried to take Harold on walks.  I believe he would have stayed with me.  He was definitely dog-like in that way.  But I'm so horribly allergic to flea bites, and by an awful coincidence, so incredibly attractive to fleas, that taking the cat outside on a regular basis would have been a huge pain.

Bridget is totally freaked out today.  She has a little ritual of begging for treats, and one of my exes actually trained her to "squeak" for them.  But she would never eat alone.  She always looked for Harold to come and get a treat, too.  She just loved Harold, even though he could not stop molesting her.

She got her treat today, and she still hasn't eaten it.  It's sitting on the floor.  She won't indulge herself without Harold, and she's been crying for him and looking around the apartment.

I'm afraid her mistrust of us is at an all time high.  And who can blame her?  After all, we're getting rid of cats today.  It's the culmination of all her fears.

Harold trying to convince me not to work.
(*Sigh*  I had a such a great desk in that K-town apartment!)

Harold foraging for plastic to chew in our bathroom.
He became skilled at opening these cabinet doors.

I will really miss my little buddy.  I got Harold at the end of a bad breakup with the guy I stupidly dated after Jeff, back in the day.  That stupid guy was allergic to cats, so it was kind of a big thing to take on Harold.  But Harold was ready to commit!

I'm glad Harold got to be a part of our family for just a little while.

Harold really could never pick his way across the LEGO desk
without making a racket.

These are the things I will miss most about him:

--He would play tag with me, and he would chase back.

--I had to teach him how to climb the spiral staircase in my Brooklyn apartment.  He was afraid of stairs, never having seen them before.  But after a few lessons, they became his favorite place to play.  He would greet me by running up the stairs so I could play with him through the gaps between the steps.

--If I yelled because I saw a spider or stubbed my toe, Harold would come running into the room with a terribly concerned expression and meow to ask if I was okay.  (Bridget runs under the bed to save her own skin.)

--He would spoon with me.  I've lived with cats my whole life, and he's the only cat who actually almost hugged.

There are pets and there are pets.  Harold was really a classic.


Octopunk said...

Yeah, it's hard to believe his little black-and-white furryness won't be slinking around the apartment anymore. Today the bag of cloth diapers was delivered, and Jules and I both separately thought "oh jeez, we better move that plastic bag before... oh, yeah." Many a quiet night would be interrupted by the crackling of plastic when Harold found a choice bit of the stuff. I'll miss that, even though I also won't.

Sigh, sigh sigh. Such a wonderful soul.

DCD said...

Beautiful eulogy, Julie. Damn, now I'm at work and crying!!

50PageMcGee said...

I'm really sorry, you guys. I had the pleasure of meeting Harold a couple times. Such a friendly guy.

My dog Snupe is in pretty rough shape these days. And now that I'm moving down, I'm actually going to be there when he goes -- I don't really know if that's fortunate or not.

Julie said...

Thanks DCD & 50. Looking forward to your imminent arrival, 50!

Yeah...we've been leaving plastic everywhere, willy nilly. It's our version of spillin' a little for our homie.

Obsidian Kitten said...

sending you my love and big hugs.

maybe harold is hanging out with grey cat now, swapping tales of how ridiculous their humans were. "hey your humans were--" and "my humans were--" and that slow cat-blink moment of "you mean our humans knew each other onceuponatime?" but they wouldn't care all that much, b/c cats are like that. but they could spoon together, because grey was like that, too.

btw, you made me cry, too. thanks a lot for bringing out my inner mush.