My wife and I let an old foreign man live in our apartment with us. We give him food and water, and he pretty much just sits around the apartment all day. And when he does get up, it’s usually just to walk in a small circle and then sit down several inches away from his original spot. He’s usually pretty quiet, unless we have friends over. Then he starts pacing around, stopping in front of each of us—often inches away from our faces—and stares at us. After he’s satisfied with the stare, he’ll let out a monosyllabic noise and then walk away.

He’s pretty low key, though. He sleeps on the couch or even sometimes sprawled out on the bathroom floor. He’s tried to sleep on our bed near our feet, but this has proved a little disruptive. In the middle of the night, he’ll hear a noise and then immediately bolt upright and sprint down the hallway to see what caused it. We’ve given him his own bathroom, but he refuses to clean it. But when we clean it, he seems a little put off, like we’ve ruined some sort of life’s work he’d been planning.

The foreign man’s name is Molly, and he is a cat.

I find it very interesting that the preceding paragraphs sound very odd to me, but for some reason they sound perfectly normal if I change their subject to “tiny obese mammal covered in fur” or “cat.” My brain does some kind of instant translation that says, “of course you let a tiny obese mammal covered in fur poop in a sand toilet in your apartment. Why wouldn’t you?”

I had a messenger bag that I very much enjoyed. We had a lot of good times, that messenger bag and I. I loved putting things into it, and I loved taking things out of it, and I loved the way that it contained those things while I traveled from one place to another. But one day, Molly the Cat sprayed her urine all over that messenger bag to let me know that she wasn’t pleased with something that I had done or neglected to do. And yet for some reason, my brain decided that it made sense that Molly the Cat should stay and the pee-stained-yet-innocent messenger bag that should go. And it also made sense for me to create an elaborate ritual of hanging my replacement bag precariously out of reach of Molly the Cat rather than to let Molly the Cat explore other housing options.

It seems that Molly the Cat and my brain are in league with one another, which is very unfortunate, because I rely on my brain to accomplish a lot of things for me. So I’ve been forced into a truce with Molly the Cat. And I’ve had to learn to accept the reality that some days I may be wearing a very respectable collared shirt and chinos and at the same time be extracting hardened chunks of poop out of a small sandy landscape—the world’s crappiest archaeologist.


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