“On what?” she asked.
“Cat’s annual performance review,” I told her.
As if she didn’t know.
“You have got to be kidding,” she said.
She does not take these things seriously but I do. I reminded her that cat’s last two reviews were complete disasters and an entire year had passed without any noticeable sign of improvement. According to our process, my hands were tied: after three consecutive bad reviews, termination is our only option. Cat must be banished to the shed as an outside cat.
My wife gave me the look she usually gives me whenever we have these conversations.
“Before you start complaining about cat,” she said, “let’s hear something positive about him.”
I conceded he was a superb mouser.
“Wait!” she said, “He should hear this.” She reached for his treat jar and ever so lightly, she thunked it with a fingernail.
Cat came bounding into the room, tail held high.
“And?” she asked.
“And he can be an affectionate pet,” I said it with all sincerity. By engaging cat in meaningful dialog, I hoped I could meet him halfway. Instead he sniffed the air while tracking the erratic flight of a moth across the ceiling.
“Typical lack of focus,” I grumbled, glaring out a window.
Taking a stab at reconciliation, my wife explained, “We must make allowances…. Being a cat, he has certain….” she struggled for the right words, “learning and communication challenges.”
I would have none of it. Rattling my list, I asked, “Can we begin?”
“Sure,” she said, picking up her sewing.
“Point A: Violation of security. Cat has been repeatedly escorted out of places where he has no right to be. We have caught him sleeping on the bed, clattering among the dishes and scaling my book case to upset the glasses of milk I inadvertently leave there.”
“We must do a better job of closing doors and picking up our dishes,” my wife said.
I resented her lack of plural in the word we.
“Point B: Behavioral Issues. He swats and hisses at the grand-kids.”
That got her attention.
“Well,” she rationalized, “the girls do like to dress him up in doll clothing.”
We were going nowhere fast.
“Point C: Vandalism. He insists on leaping up onto my toilet lid to bat at the toilet paper. He doesn’t stop until he has unfurled the roll all over the floor and halfway down the hall.”
Laughing, my wife waved a hand to cut me off. “He only does that when you put the roll on the wrong way.”
There is no proper way to mount toilet paper – but not wanting to debate the point, I plowed on.
“Point D: Personal Hygiene. Cat refuses to bury his business and sometimes, little things cling to his fur and he leaves them as presents in embarrassing places.”
My wife almost fell off her chair laughing. When she regained her composure, she scolded me, “You need to change his litter more often.”
“I?” I asked.
“Excuse me,” I protested, “whose review is this anyway, cat’s or mine?”
“Now that you mention it,” she said opening a drawer in her sewing table. She then produced a list of her own.
“Point A….,” she began.