“It’s time to get started,” I told my wife.
“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.
To be clear, Cat is the name of our cat and his last two reviews were complete disasters. An entire year had passed without any noticeable sign of improvement and according to our process, my hands are tied. After three consecutive bad reviews, our only option was termination.
Cat must be banished to the shed as an outside cat.
“Before you start ranting,” 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, 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 with all sincerity.
By engaging cat in meaningful dialog, I had hoped to 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.
“We must make allowances, being a cat,” my wife explained, “he has certain….” Here 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. He has been caught sleeping on the bed, clattering among the dishes and scaling the bookcase to get at the glasses of milk I inadvertently leave there.”
“We must do a better job of closing doors and picking up ourselves,” my wife said.
I resented her lack of the plural in the word we.
“Point B: Behavioral Issues. He swats and hisses at the grandchildren.”
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 and batting 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?
Not wanting to debate the point, I plowed on.
“Point D: Personal Hygiene. Cat refuses to bury his business and sometimes, little bits cling to his fur which then drop off 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.