For years I’ve been the Antonin Scalia on all judgements in the family pet battle.
Can we get a dog? No. Too much work.
Can we get a cat? No. Too bitchy.
Hamster? No. Too close to a mouse.
Guinea pig? No. Too close to a rat.
Bird? No. Too annoying.
Fish? Ok I did say yes here but after five toilet bowl funerals, many tears, an aquarium leak and a rehoming mission that resulted in the Turk driving around Indy with a fish in a Ziploc begging someone to take him, my no fish stance is firm.
About three Christmases ago I thought I might have won the battle when I got to match the Midge’s request for a dog with, “No, but I can give you a brother.” That worked for like a day.
A few months ago the Turk decided that the best reward to the entire family – myself, the caretaker, obviously excluded- for making it though everything with the Nugget’s health, was to get a family dog. My reply was a predictable, “Aw hells no.”
Nothing against man’s best friend but I’m not a dog gal. Ok, I’m not a pet gal at all. I hate sharing my space with something that cannot talk back to me (Yes, I realize I do that with the Nugget but he signs so that point is moot.) I hate fur all over. I hate that nasty ass smell that comes with pets; you know the one that is a combination of pee and pet food. Most of all, I hate stray turds. I have a potty training two-year-old; my world has enough stray turds.
But ten years with this Turk and I know that a hard “no” would only drive him and the risk of him turning up one day with a Fido surprise was solid, so I countered with the feline card. “Maybe we should get a starter pet. You know, one that can pet-sit itself, is relatively silent and poops in a contained space. Let’s get a cat.” I barely believed it was my own voice uttering those words but once they were out I had to stand by them.
“No. I had cat in Turkey. Boncuk. (The Turk pet name equivalent of Fido) Boncuk was asshole. All cats are assholes. I will not live with another asshole cat.”
In Turkey cats are everywhere. They’re like furry, surly little street gangs. As for their coexistence with society, Turks fall into one of two camps – they either adore them and feed them from their front doors or they hate them and kick them on the down low. The Turk was raised by one from each camp- his mother adored the cat but his father despised it. No wonder Boncuk was an asshole.
“You know not all cats are like the one you had in Turkey in 1979. Right?”
“No. They are all the same. Assholes.”
“Fine. But there will be no dog in this house until every single person in this home uses a toilet on the reg.” (Though we started with a bang, my stubborn Nugget only uses the toilet when the spirit moves him or if we’re in a public restroom with an exciting toilet. I see this trend continuing for the long haul.)
I’d put my foot down but the boys, led by their captain, The Turk, continued to dog shop at every chance. But one magical day when the Nugget and Turk were out on the town they stumbled across a cat up for adoption. The Turk witnessed first hand the weirdo love the Nugget has for felines and being a total sucker for anything Nugget, he was swayed.
Fast forward to last weekend and he confessed that he’d been test driving cats for weeks and he’d finally found our perfect match. We were set to pick it up in the morning. I steeled myself and agreed under the premise that I get to issue the cat’s moniker. (My family members are known for sucking at pet naming and I wasn’t about to spend the next 20 years with a cat named Cat or, God forbid, another Boncuk.)
Unlike when I named my children and was tasked with finding a name that was Turkish for citizenship reasons but pronounceable in English (PS- your options are pretty freaking limited. There are seriously many online groups filled with people struggling with just this half-breed naming quandary.) my options were wide open.
Should I name it J.J. Walker so I could yell “Dyn-o-Mite!” whenever I called him? What about George Jefferson (Wheezy if a girl) so I could sing “Movin’ on up” when he ran the stairs? Seventies TV is my usual go-to, (I once had a cow named Magnum PI) but I decided to go classic. Cleo-cat-ra, Miss Cleo (like the 80’s fortune teller) for a girl and Gengis Khat for a boy. Cengis (pronounced Jengis) is a common Turk name so we comboed the English/Turk versions so he’d match the kids’ weird names.
Gengis Khat has been an Ozemet for four days now and he’s blended right in. He sleeps with the Nugget, cuddles with the Turk, plays with the Midge and screeches at me when his food bowl is empty. I’m pretty sure he’s Turkish.
The biggest holdout seems to be the one with the instantaneous attachment. The Turk has been away on business all week but texted to see how the new addition was getting on.
-How is my boy?
-Good. He just got home from school.
-No the other one.
-Good. He just got up from his nap.
-No. The other one.
-Gengis??? Are you seriously asking about the cat over your kids?
-Yes. Does he miss me? Scratch him behind the ear for me.
(Eye rolls as I plunk more money into our children’s therapy funds.)
Welcome to the nuthouse Gengis Khat. Things don’t make a lot of sense here but you’ll get the hang of it soon.