Today, a story of intense magic.
Baxter McClellen was an only child, and as an only child he was spoiled quite rotten from day one of his life. Not until the age of three did his unusual talent emerge.
Staying with a sitter while his parents went out for an evening of dinner and dancing, Baxter asked the sitter for more popcorn and to stay up later than usual. Baxter’s parents would have easily given in but his sitter was intent on spending the evening making out with her boyfriend who was scheduled to arrive in less than an hour.
The sitter hurried the screaming Baxter to his bed. With a quick story and a glass of milk, the sitter tucked in a fighting Baxter and turned the light out before leaving the room.
An hour later the boyfriend arrived and the sitter decided to check on Baxter before settling in on the couch with her young man. A scream was heard from the bedroom and the boyfriend ran to check on the situation.
“Baxter has disappeared!” the sitter exclaimed. Turning back the bed covers in horror the two teenagers discovered only a small gray kitten where Baxter had earlier been tucked into his bed to sleep.
Frightened and panicked, the sitter ran to call the parents. The boyfriend called to her, “Baxter is right here and nothing is wrong.”
Sure enough, Baxter was safe and sound and was lifted into loving arms and spent the rest of the evening between the two young people, happily watching television and eating popcorn.
Baxter had discovered that turning himself into a cat at opportune times could get him anything he wanted. He turned into a cat at the grocery when his mom refused to purchase a certain breakfast cereal. He turned into a cat if his father refused to buy him a toy. His grandmother was appalled when Baxter turned into a cat at the movie theater and quickly she gave in to see a PG movie.
Preparation for pre-school began with a conference with Baxter’s future teacher and an explanation of his unusual skill. The school explained they simply would not tolerate Baxter’s behavior and so Baxter was home-schooled by an aunt who would tolerate his feline apparition. Baxter learned well but only what Baxter wanted to learn. He was frequently a cat in his aunt’s lap being fed treats to try and coerce him into reappearing as a normal boy.
Inquisitive as he was, Baxter wanted to intermingle with other children. Gradually, his parents allowed him to attend a local nursery school but were always on call to pick him up if the need arrived to take their catboy home.
When Baxter turned five he was told he should start Kindergarten. His parents took him to a counselor who discovered Baxter’s little secret within minutes of his arrival. The counselor had seen many manipulative children but this one was really something bizarre. With only a few months to go before the start of Kindergarten, the counselor had his hands full.
The counselor and Baxter talked about lots of things like learning to share and how to tell the difference between needs and wants. Baxter liked the counselor and especially liked the ball of yarn that the counselor let him play with while he was a cat.
Unfortunately, Baxter began to grow hairballs while grooming himself as a cat. He had a horrible cough and was totally disgusting to those around him. The counselor recommended seeing a vet and the vet gave Baxter’s parents some medication to help alleviate the hairballs.
Baxter’s first week of Kindergarten went pretty well. He was getting to know the other children and his teacher was really pretty and smelled so nice too. The second week did not go as well. Baxter was forced to live with a routine that did not suit him. He hated being forced to go to the bathroom when he did not need to go. He disliked snacking when it appealed to his teacher and not to himself. He especially hated having to sit at a table and be still for minutes on end. Baxter decided to become a cat.
When Baxter’s teacher discovered a cat in her classroom she immediately picked it up and threw it out a nearby window. Baxter’s teacher was allergic to cats and could not stand them being around. Baxter discovered himself outside the school and alone. He decided to go play on the playground.
Unfortunately, the lady across the street from the school saw the cat being tossed out the window of the school and called the animal control people. Baxter had turned back into a little boy and was happily playing on the playground swingset when the Principal came out and forced him back into the school.
No sooner had Baxter gotten back to class than snack was being passed around. It was chocolate cake, which Baxter did not like. Back to being a cat, Baxter was again tossed outside the school building by his allergic teacher.
Imagine Baxter’s dismay when a net was thrown over him and he was pitched into a cage in a dark Animal Control wagon. He began to cry and turned back into a boy. The driver of the van heard the young lad crying and stopped the vehicle to investigate. He was amazed to find Baxter in one of his animal cages. The driver returned to school with Baxter where an onslaught of distraught parents, teachers, students and faculty all seemed to be on Baxter’s case.
“If you want to be a cat, you will be treated like a cat,” the Principal told him and Baxter found himself in a different Kindergarten room in a cage. He was given catfood at lunch and taken outside for bathroom breaks. Baxter was beside himself with anger and rage. His parents came running when they heard of Baxter’s trouble.
Baxter’s parents huddled around him and tried to console him. The Principal told them they were responsible for Baxter’s actions and that they should be ashamed of themselves. How was he ever to survive living behind this façade of being a cat whenever it was appropriate to him?
Baxter was suspended from school and his parents took him home to try and sort out this predicament. The counselor was called in. The aunt was brought back to continue Baxter’s learning. The vet was called again because the hairball problem had once again emerged as Baxter spent more and more of his time being a cat.
Many methods of approach were tried to get Baxter to give up his changing into a cat. Doctors, psychologists, therapists were all called in to try to help alleviate this problem. One therapist suggested getting Baxter a puppy but the puppy chased Baxter when he turned into a cat and the two animals tore up the house so badly that Baxter’s parents immediately got rid of the puppy.
The next thing they tried was asking Baxter if he would like a brother or sister. Baxter stayed a cat for almost an entire week. The Baxter’s reassured Baxter that they would not have another child. And so, in the end, the Baxter’s got the boy a cat.
Cat and boy and sometimes cat and cat, got along quite well. One day when the cat was eating catfood and the boy was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the cat walked over to Baxter and said, “you know, being a cat is not all that it is made up to be.”
Baxter asked the cat what it meant. The cat explained to Baxter that he did not want to eat catfood; he wanted to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When Baxter offered the cat his sandwich the cat refused. “I’m a cat and I eat catfood. That is just the way it is.”
“What else is wrong with being a cat?” Baxter asked his pet.
“I hate using that stupid litter box. It is just so degrading and it stinks to high Heaven. I’d much rather go outside but that is just as degrading because people watch you while you ‘go’.” Baxter offered to help the cat use the toilet like he did but the cat just sighed and said, “I am a cat. I use the litter box and that is just the way it is.”
“Anything else troubling you?” Baxter asked his friend, the cat.
“Sometimes I don’t like being petted. Sometimes I just feel like lying in the sun and dozing but people come along, pick me up and start petting. That noise I am making is not a purr. It is me trying to keep from growling at times. Why don’t people realize when you just want to be left alone?”
“And another thing,” the cat continued, “I really hate going to the vet. He pokes and prods, and pinches you up and zaps you with a needle. Would it hurt him just once to ask what is the matter with me?”
“Oh, well. I am a cat. I get petted and I go to the vet, and that is just the way it is.”
The next day Baxter was up early. He told his mother that he was ready to go back to Kindergarten. His parents got him ready and took him back to school. The principal asked Baxter if he was going to give up his old habits and Baxter told him, “I am a little boy and I go to school. I do the things other little boys do, and that is just the way it is.”
To this very day, Baxter has stayed a boy and not turned into a cat. But on occasion he does give his pet cat a bite of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He leaves the cat alone when he is snoozing in the sun. Baxter keeps his cat’s litter box spanking clean. And Baxter always stays close when the cat has to go to the vet to be sure that the cat is asked what is the matter with him.
I am certain that I don't have a picture of a cat on my computer. It is almost asparagus time. I cannot wait. We grill our asparagus with sesame oil and seeds. Love it!