The cat has gotten quite insistent.
I push her away, as I’ve been pushing her away for the last 10 minutes. “I’m – hey – get off the keyboard you ridiculous cat you.”
Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, a small, striped animal with emerald-green eyes and a large, padded envelope she’s hidden in the crawlspace since the last Republican Convention, eyes me with a combination of amusement and disgust.
She pushes past my extended arm, tries to step back onto my laptop.
My laptop: where lukewarm brainwaves are met by a comfortingly warm battery.
I push her off, pat the comfy arrangement of blankets I’ve created for her.
She sighs. “What do you have against the furnace?”
I pull the blankets around her. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” I say. “I’m not sure you’d understand.”
The cat lays on her side, curls up tightly. “Hmm,” she says, her silken voice muffled by her tail. “I’m relatively sure that it has to do with a combination of cheapness, misplaced pioneer spirit, and utter pigheaded-ness.” She smiles, the edges of her mouth tipping up ever-so-slightly. Her eyes glint up at me like newly minted dimes. “Am I close?”
“Not even,” I say.
The cat stands, stretches, points gleaming, quizzical eyes at me. “So your setting the thermostat at 64 is not some odd little homage to the pioneers? The 21st century equivalent, perhaps, of bathing in a creek or something?”
I frown, place self-conscious fingertips on the wrinkles between my eyes, try to smooth them. I make a mental note: Next kitty should be less intuitive.
“Not like that at all,” I say. “I have nothing to prove. I’m as hardy as the next person.”
Liza Bean wrinkles her nose in an adorably tiny fashion. “Hardy?” she says. She rolls the word around as if experiencing it for the first time. “Hardy.” She laughs. “Like how you’re willing to accept Ben and Jerry’s but only if they’re out of Hagen-Daz?”
I quickly frown – and then un-frown. “I dislike cheap dairy products.”
The cat grins.
“Well what about this?” I say. “Last winter I carried baked potatoes in my coat pockets for warmth. How’s that for hardy?”
The cat stares at me, unblinkingly.
“Hey now!” I protest. “Microwaved taters is both the past and the future of mid-winter comfort.”
Liza Bean laughs. “I just want to be there when you pull that potato from your pocket.” She pauses abruptly, looks up at me in all sincerity. “Please do it on the bus. If you pull a baked potato from your coat and eat it on the bus, I will make it worth your while.”
I purse my lips, briefly consider what the cat would be willing to pay to see a city bus’s videotape of a commuter eating a potato pulled from the pocket of her winter coat.
Our eyes meet, and Liza Bean bursts into laughter.
She leans over, reaches a paw under the computer on my lap.
“Mmm,” she purrs. “Warm, toasty words.”
And I scratch between her ears.