williamthomaswEven a casual reader of a newspaper’s advice column will notice the recurring theme of a household crisis involving the woman, her cat and the new boyfriend.

The culprit is never the cat. He got there first and clearly marked the place as his own territory.  The woman usually sets the table for trouble when she decides to strike out looking for companionship, intimacy and love.  Duh!  She already had the cat!  As in all conflicts that result in a war, the guy becomes the main transgressor.  The new boyfriend either doesn’t like cats or is allergic to them and that’s where the battle begins.

Solutions offered up by the advice columnist and the readers varies from “definitely get rid of the guy” to shampooing the cat every two weeks to eliminate the dried saliva in the coat which causes the allergy.  There is one other option.  Years ago, I was on the book tour with Guys – Setting Off The Jerk Detector, and three incidents on my promotional day in Hamilton, Ontario still stand out in my mind.

First, my publicist arranged a book signing in a restaurant in Jackson Square called Walt’s Beanery. They had me sitting at a small table in a corner of the restaurant with an ad sign over my head that read: “Try Our Beans And Let Us Hear From You!”

I know what you’re thinking – it must have sounded like a whoopee cushion going off every minute or so.  Well no, but I did ask for confirmation from the manager that I was sitting in a non-smoking section. I’ll do a lot of crazy things to promote one of my books, but having my hair set on fire by a natural gas explosion is not one of them.

The second thing that I remember was autographing two books for a gruff, middle-aged man in a hurry.  “Sign for Big Ears and another for Big Ears Two.”

As I signed the books I had to ask:  “Please sir, tell me … these are not your children?!?”  It turns out he had a couple of rabbits for pets and wanted to preserve the memory of them on the first page of my book.

And the third thing I remember was a woman telling me the story of how her house was turned into a war zone when her new boyfriend clashed with her cat. Her name was Christine, a lovely young lady who worked at Coles, my next stop on book tour day.

It seems Christine got caught in a love triangle between Sailor and her brand-new boyfriend, Bob.  Bob didn’t care for Sailor while Sailor simply hated Bob’s guts.  Whereas Bob simply ignored Sailor, the cardinal sin of cat care, Sailor took to relieving himself in Bob’s best shoes.  That’s when Sailor’s name got changed to Stinker and at work, Bob’s new nickname was “Lysol.”

The war went on for a month or so, with Bob pushing Sailor off his lap all the while becoming quite ripe in his loafers.

One of them had to go and when Sailor realized Bob’s love for Christine was stronger than the smell of cat pee, he decided he would be the one to leave home.  But — remember, he’s a cat —only on his terms.  I mean, cats run away from home all the time, but not quite like this guy did.

“It must have been over a period of like two weeks … it happened so slowly, I didn’t notice until he was gone,” says Christine with one love affair falling apart just as the new one was growing strong.

First, the rubber mouse on the wheel disappeared. Then, two catnip mice went missing and the plastic ball with the bell inside was never again heard to jingle in the house on Grosvenor Street.

“As his toys disappeared, a few each week, I thought Bob was throwing them away and I remember thinking that was kind of cruel.

“By the time I noticed his small, stuffed cat toy had disappeared, Sailor was long gone,” recalls Christine.  “But still, I thought Bob had something to do with it.  I couldn’t believe the cat had actually moved out of my house, one toy at a time.”

The stuffed cat was Sailor’s favourite, the one he loved to sink his teeth into and drool on, the one that reminded him of Bob. When Sailor made his move, he wasn’t bluffing or bargaining for a better deal at home, like a key to Bob’s walk-in closet where all his shoes were kept.

“One day he was sitting on the sidewalk in front of the house four doors down.  I walked by and as I called his name, he just turned his back on me and walked up on the lady’s porch,” said Christine. Hell hath no fury like a feline rebuffed.

“The little bugger wouldn’t even speak to me,” she said.

Then the door at the top of the porch opened, Sailor scooted in and it was all over, a done deal.  The cat had moved out of his house and into the neighbour’s home after he had relocated all his toys.

And isn’t that the way humans move too?  One toy at a time?

Yes, but the peeing in the other person’s shoe is a novel way to say ‘goodbye.’

For comments, ideas and copies of Guys:  Setting Off The Jerk Detector, go to www.williamthomas.ca.