A Decade with Dusty, Part 1: Meetings and Lessons Learned
When I was nineteen, I lived in St. Cloud, Mn, and had a girlfriend with an older sister who lived in the Twin Cities southeastern suburban town of Cottage Grove. One weekend, we had tickets to see the band Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, which was a very special place to see a concert, by the way. In my opinion it’s really too bad that it has since been replaced. So, we decided that we would drive down to the Twin Cities early, and visit her sister’s family for a few hours.
We met her sister at the front door, entered her home and sat down at a dining room table where she was ready to serve coffee. On the fourth chair at the table was a magnificent gray cat. He was broad across the chest when sitting, looked a bit overweight until one noted the length and thickness of his coat, and had that amused-but-bored, smug look that confident male cats can manage. I immediately introduced myself to him, and his ‘mom’ told me his name was Dusty. He was friendly but not eager, tolerant of my attention to the point of almost feigning pleasure a couple of times, and he completely charmed me within moments.
When he finally tired of my attention and gave me that friendly-but-firm look of thanks-but-we’re-finished-for now. I turned my attention back to the sisters’ conversation and joined in. At a quiet moment, the elder sister turned and said something like; “You and Dusty have hit it off, I see. He doesn’t usually take to people he doesn’t know.” I said that I thought he was an awfully fine fellow and asked how old he was. Turns out he was eleven years old.
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She then sort of wistfully said; “I don’t suppose you’d want to take him home with you? Now that the kids are beyond crawling, it’s getting to be kind of hard on him. He’s used to being the center of attention in the house, and having some dignity.” I thought long and hard before answering. My girlfriend told me later that I’d hesitated at least a full second, maybe even one and a half, before leaning forward and saying; “Consider it done!”
A bit later, when the kids woke up from their nap, I saw that they were about two and four years old. As they came stumbling from their bedroom, rubbing their eyes and looking innocent and cute as can be, Dusty rose to all four feet and stretched, gave me a look that could have been interpreted as; “I don’t think you’ll fit behind the couch with me, but you may want to be looking for a place to hide” and then jumped down off the chair and glided away into the living room.