The Epic Tale of Ivanhoe the Cat

Kitten on phone ( out of university a decade or so ago, I was fresh-faced and eager to explore the seemingly limitless opportunities afforded to me through my career choice as a high school English teacher. Unfortunately, I soon learned that such jobs were exceedingly rare in my province (even more so nowadays), and so it was with a great sense of surprise that I landed a half-time position in a community about an hour outside of town. Of course, I seized upon the opportunity, but found myself in dire straights immediately. I was now expected to find lodgings I could afford, which worked out to a mere three hundred a month after a minimal grocery and utility budget was extracted from my meagre paycheque.

Now, by sheer coincidence, another young teacher --let's call him Joe Smith-- was hired the same day, and it turned out that I had met him briefly at a mutual friend's house a month before. Not only that, but he was looking for someone to split the cost of a house rental in the area. That evening, I moved in the essentials (bed, computer and books), and began the adjustment to my new job and surroundings. And to Joe.

He was cat-like in his habits. He was exceptionally tidy, spent an hour a day grooming himself, loved sports and games, and enjoyed prowling about the town like a tomcat in the evenings. And he had one other feline trait: he would do anything and everything he could get away with.

For example, I was shocked when our vacant cutlery drawer and cupboards filled up with utensils and mugs from the local restaurant. Some of his other doings and saying aren't fit for a public forum, but let's just say that I was regularly astonished by his lifestyle.

And then came Ivanhoe, a cute little (female) kitten that Joe adopted. I suspected that it was less a matter of tenderness or a quest for camaraderie, and more a matter of a certain woman's predilection for cute l'il creatures, but since I'm particularly fond of almost any animal, it was perfectly fine by me.

A few weeks later, I fetched a strange package at the post office box. It was addressed to Ivanhoe. Joe ripped open the package at the kitchen table, and then presented the twelve rap CDs inside to the little cat, whom I suddenly realised had poor taste in music. This was followed soon after by Ivanhoe's subscription to a book-of-the-month club (six books about sports, spies and far-eastern erotica), another ten CDs from a different service, and so on. All of these had one thing in common: get a bunch now for free, and agree to purchase a few more over the next few months.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only trouble Ivanhoe became embroiled in, as collectors soon began to phone for the naughty kitty. The receiver was duly passed along, and indeed served as a useful surface upon which the unspayed Ivanhoe could rub and purr, for she was squirrelly and in heat. And then, on one of the last days of our year-long contract, there was the sound of a car coming up our steep gravel driveway and a strong, deft knock. Joe was at the school coaching one of the sports teams, so I opened the door to face a small ruddy-faced man with a briefcase and a very irate expression penetrating from beneath the largest mustache I had ever seen.

"This the residence of Ivanhoe Smith?" he asked, peering past me into the kitchen.

"It is," I said, with some apprehension. "Can I help you?"

"Are you Mr. Smith?" One eye opened wide and twitched in my direction.

"I'm afraid not." I held back the cat with slippered foot while she wailed in heat and made a play for the door. "Look, this isn't a good time...."

"Where is he? We've been phoning for a month, and he refuses to take our calls. Unless I see him right away, I'm afraid we're going to have to initiate legal...."

At that moment, Ivanhoe made a mad dash out the door. "There she goes!" I cried, and chased after her towards the large farmer's field behind the house. The stout little man came running after me, his briefcase and bat-winged black coat flying wildly as we leaped over a little fence and scrambled into the field. The cat zigzagged from right to left, leaping over the rusty remnants of a plow, ducking into an irrigation pipe, zipping beneath a sawhorse, and we chased it from one end of the field to the other, cornering it for mere moments before seeing her perform a death-defying leap, jump or climb in order to escape our grasp.

Finally, the collector yelled and flung himself down. I rushed over to pick him up, only to find poor Ivanhoe wrapped up in his muddy coat. "You got her!", I exclaimed. "Good show!" I carefully took the cat --which was now howling and clawing wildly in all directions-- by the scruff of her neck and made my way back to the house.

"Well, you can thank me," he demanded, scraping the mud and blood off his coat, "by telling me where I can find Ivanhoe Smith."

I turned around and held up the cat.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. It's easy to pin the blame upon something or someone besides ourselves. It always catches up to us, though, so we might as well learn to deal with the issues as they arise, before things get far worse. Poor Ivanhoe. I told her to stay away from Columbia House.

This rambling and barely sensible post brought to you by the tired mind of Douglas Johnston, who is now designing Hipster cards in his shambling sleep. Yes, it's almost ready.

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True story?

True story?

True story

I can vouch for this. Wonderful stories and interesting characters have a habit of finding Doug. Only the cat's name was changed to protect innocent parties. And the moral is "not too many things in life are free so isn't it nice that the hipster is" or something like that. I think. (-:

Cats and more cats

Hhmm, Let's see. Ivy can take care of the hydro bill, Angus could pay the rent, Skipper could take care of Rogers and Willow and Sagwa could share the car insurance..whew, and I was worried about making it through the next month. Ah if only. YOur friend was very daring to try stunts like that, maybe as retribution for his wrongdoings he'll come back as a cat. What ever happened to Ivanhoe?

Ivanhoe in China?

I did run into "Joe" about two years later. He had just accepted a position to go teach in China, and his new wife and child-to-be were going to be joining him soon. I did meet Ivanhoe again at the time -- she was now a very huge and nervous cat that refused to come near me. (Perhaps she remembered the chase through the field?) Joe was thinking about taking her along to China, but wasn't sure about how realistic that would be. I'm afraid I lost touch thereafter. Sorry to be anticlimactic....


...and the Cat...

Thank you Doug that story brought a lot of happy (and not so) memories.

One incident involved a roomy who, when drunk, thought he could play like the Cat (Stevens). Rather than hurt his feeling I decided to sell his amp and claim it was stolen by one of the others... :D My plan was flawless, I was the only one not to have complained about his cat-o-maowling. I skipped a lecture - most unlike me - and the deed was done. Just like Raskolnikov I justified my crime. It was not only for the good of mankind but also the money would pay for my dissertation to be typed. I had however made one terrible mistake. As we returned to the house to 'find' the horrific deed I suggested instead of crying like a girl, we had a toke and worked out who the villain was... Horrorfied indeed was I to learn that our whole stash was at the pawn brokers, concealed in the back of said amp.... :*(

And to blame it all on a

And to blame it all on a poor little kitty.... I briefly had a roommate once whose boyfriend would order stuff from all the Columbia House-type stuff that came in the mail in the name of a previous roommate. That poor girl is probably still trying to correct her credit report, and it's a wonder any of those businesses survived!

Loved that the collector helped you chase the cat! :D Deb