Wednesday, October 17, 2001

I work in the part of town they call the retail district because its where all the big shops are. Nordstrom's flagship store is here, the Bon Marche (home of the shoe sales), Westlake Mall, Pacific Place mall, and dozens and dozens of little boutique shops.

And then there's the $1 to pet the cat booth.

This little booth popped up in Westlake Park late last spring. It's not really a booth, just a cloth-covered table with a triptych behind it explaining that the kitten on display is representing a local animal shelter. For your $1 donation, you not only get to pet the kitty, but can walk away knowing your money is going to a good cause: a home that doesn't put animals "to sleep" if no one adopts them.

The kitten on display has been there since the booth first opened. He's very cute, all black with a white nose. He has a cute little knit cap on his head and occasionally wears a vest. Oh. That's the guy who handles him. Except for the black with white nose part. Anyway, today as I walked by I noticed that not only can you pet the kitty, the kitty now does tricks! He stood on his hind legs and begged. He jumped through a metal hoop. Curled into a tiny furball on the tabletop was a poofy grey kitten, the heir apparent to the black kitty's job of enticing folks to part with their money. Black kitty is getting long of leg. Pretty soon, he'll be a cat and you know what they say: The trouble with a kitten is that eventually it becomes a cat! He'll be going to Tender Vittles High while the little grey poofy one does the soliciting.

Every time I see that black kitty, I can't help but compare it to Mittens. Mittens is spastic. He's low on the cat IQ scale. He's nervous and suspicious and jittery. I suspect he eats the coffee grounds out of the trash can; that's the only explanation for his bizarre behaviour. How did that $1 kitty get to be so calm in the face of hundreds of spectators and cars whizzing by while Mittens takes off like a shot at any unusual sound?

Pike Street, where my office is located, was barracaded by those Police: Do No Cross tapes between Third and Fourth Avenues when I went out to lunch. Someone on the street said they found anthrax in that block. Pure speculation. There's nothing on that bit of street except for a Rite Aid, a Payless Shoes and a Sharper Image. Come on, who'd want to anthrax any of those shops? I refuse to become paranoid just because so many people are out to get me.

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