My name is Robbie. I’m a black cat with green eyes. Most of the year, I live quietly and peaceably enough. Imagine what it’s been like for me, though, these past 12 years on All Hallow’s Eve, assigned to this life as a black cat with green eyes. Try as I might to stay hidden in the shadows, come October 31st, with the sun waning and the moon rising, I am in great demand, none of it well-informed. “Ooh, a black cat, how scary!” they say. “Don’t let it cross your path!” Egad, makes me want to cough up a hairball.
Some want me simply for decoration, to blink slowly at passersby for the spooky factor. Others keep yelling at me “Slink, Robbie, slink!” Some think I can put a curse on the neighbor whose dogs howl at the moon. I can’t, but the dogs are already cursed. After all, they’re dogs. Most folks don’t understand that, as an unattached, independent creature of the night, I am a natural repellant for all things hideous, not their companion. Come Hallow’s Eve, some well-informed parents even offer to hire me for the night just to watch over their children. I decline.
Me? I don’t see much of anything different on Hallow’s Eve than on other holidays, like Easter. Well… maybe not Easter. After all, I’m a cat and I like to chase bunnies. They hop and wrinkle their noses like Elizabeth Montgomery on Bewitched. They’re furry and make little ‘fraidy noises. Sets my tail twitching. Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, well I do get a little action on Fridays the 13th. Like last month. I sat in my usual window, looking out on the world as people pointed at me, birds nested with their heads down and bats flittered about, just out of reach. Most nights, it’s just the bats. We have an understanding, the bats and I. They stick to bugs and I stay this side of the windowpane. Except, maybe, on Hallow’s Eve. Then, we simply stay out of each other’s way.
Two years ago, during a time humans called 2011, they made a big deal about me in some place far away, over something called an ocean. An ocean is just a big puddle of water I don’t want anything to do with. So, I wasn’t much impressed. Anyway, a few locals here said it was my year, too. Seems that was true, as well, for the year before I was born. Year of the Cat, they said. I didn’t pay any attention, though, ‘cause they said that about all cats, not just black ones with green eyes. Somehow, I just didn’t feel all that special. Anyway, some guy named Al Stewart wrote a song called Year of the Cat long before I was born. Personally, I’d rather have a song than a year anytime. Anyway, one of the songs on the album, Midas Touch, had a good line – “the Midas shadow that’s so hard to please.” Yeah, that’s me.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Well, this Hallow’s Eve I’m in a new place. I look out on a jungle now. No, not a parking lot; that was my view at the last place. That’s a different kind of jungle. This year, it’s dead roses, overripe and drying lemons, a few mice, and the occasional roof rat. There’s another cat, too, though not as pretty as me. Maybe even a bat or two. Who knows? We’ll see. I miss my last place. Seems my last partner, her name was Joan, had decided it was time to go to the Great Scratching Post in the Sky – you call it Heaven. I refer to her as a partner because, while cats don’t have owners – they have staff, instead, and all that stuff – I think of her as more of a partner because of the work she did with my cousins in the feral community. She was pretty cool. Gave me treats. Fed me two or three times a day. Stayed home a lot.
This new guy I’m with, I forget his name, it just doesn’t purr out easily… well… he’s sort of a putz. Tries to be new my best friend; doesn’t understand I’m a cat. More than a cat even, I’m a black cat with green eyes. I have needs. I like to twitch and pounce and chase when no one’s looking. I like to blink immutably as if nobody knows what I’m thinking. I don’t like rules. I let myself be scratched only when it suits me. With October the 31st coming up, I need to figure out how to get rid of him, if only for the evening. How else can I maintain my aura of mysterious cat-ness?
Anyway, Hallow’s Eve has been anything but fun for me. My first year, I was just a kitten, unseasoned, so to say. All these little goblins kept coming to the door, making threats and demanding tribute. I hissed. I arched my back. Couldn’t help but make little mewing noises. Natural reactions. None of it did any good, so I just ran and hid. My hair stood on end the entire night. The moon was full that Hallow’s Eve. Even over to the next day, All Soul’s Day, a day that’s supposed to be all about goodness, I was on edge, nervous as a cat, so to say. Maybe it was just a little residual static.
In later years, on Hallow’s Eve, I learned that spitting worked pretty well. The people in my clowder (that’s a group of cat Homies for those of you who are younger than me) thought it was cute. Blech! Eventually, I learned to be more mature, even if I was still a little skittish. I learned to watch from around corners, ready for a fast exit. Just a precaution, in case anyone tried to grab me. I stayed in the shadows. One year, a lot of those little monsters were dressed as witches. Some thought I was supposed to act familiar with them, or something like that. I ignored them and just walked away. One year, not too long ago, a lot of the little girlie-type goblins wore white wigs, lots of makeup and colorful costumes. I remember hearing the name Lady Gaga, mostly because the name makes kind of the same sound I do when I’m retching up a hairball.
This year, I expect things to be quieter. The full moon will have come and gone before Hallow’s Eve, so the crazies should be a bit calmer. And this is the year of the Snake, so nobody’s going to fuss over me this time around. Might get a bit boring, though, so I’m thinking about hiring myself out to walk back and forth in front of people, maybe under a ladder or two. Maybe I’ll get Buddy Guy to play the Black Cat Blues. Like I said, I’d take a song over a year anytime.
Anyway, I’m going to keep my head low and move fast. I hope you have a safe, sane and happy All Hallow’s Eve this year. Be careful not to take candy from babies. Give treats, don’t get tricked. Stay away from ladders and water and dark, unlit alleys. And remember, black cats with green eyes, well, we’re the good guys.