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Dear Kenichi

2006-03-27 - 8:00 a.m.

Dear Kenichi,

Hi bud. I know you aren't a big fan of the internet, but in case you can break free from your rusty manacles and get to a cyber cafe and read this I figured it would be worth writing it.

Kannerson, it's true we've had a bit of a tumultuous relationship. I made it no secret to anyone that you were shaping up to be my archenemy when Ben first brought you home. Sure, you were a cute little kitten face but I didn't easily forget that you also tried to assassinate me during your first few weeks living here. I know your official word was that you were "just playing with the fan", but that didn't make my face feel any better, due to the giant box fan falling on my head while I was sleeping. I know you were pretty proud of that wily business.

The other reason I wasn't too thrilled to have you around was that I had my own cat for a long time. Most people think cat ownership is not as significant as dog ownership. Truly, dogs are bigger and some will even bring you liquor if you've been in a skiing accident. I've never met a cat that would bring me anything above a dead snake - injured or not. But I had grown up with my cat from Kindergarten to College and when she died I was confident that I not only didn't want another cat soon, but ever.

It had been a few years since my cat had died but I still held fast that I didn't want another cat. But Ben had been saying he really wanted one. He actually wanted a dog instead. And I agreed. But he knew he wasn't home enough for a dog. My only request to him was that if he absolutely had to get a cat, could he at least get a boy cat and not a girl cat? I know it sounds insane now Kenich, but I felt that getting a girl cat was going to make me somehow disloyal to my cat. When you first came to live with us you were a holy terror. 90% owed to you not having yet been fixed. You were also the size of a large hamster. Just a wee little guy you were. Your first name that we gave you was "Malacho." It was my idea. It's the name that Olly would always use for any pet he had on "Sifl & Olly". It stuck for a few weeks. But Ben and I could tell it didn't seem right. Ben's cousin Kristen mentioned to him at some point that she always thought "Chen Kenichi" from Iron Chef would be a humorous name for an animal. We added "Chef" to the front, as a cat with a full name is indeed humorous, but a cat with a title is simply sublime. And from then on, you were Chef Chen Kenichi.

It was a while later that I decided that a.) your middle name was Marie and that b.) I realized this was a great source of embarrassment for you. That's one of the things that turned the tide between me and you Kanner. We both had irrationaly mental swings from time to time. You were mortified that it would become public that your middle name was Marie (a fact that your Aunt Kate and I would mercilessly tease you about) but felt no shame in routinely getting your head caught in every Poland Spring plastic wrap, Miller Lite case, shoe box, Wallakers bag, etc. You also photographed well. To which I'm very thankful. Ben and I had opposite schedules for a long time so you would be with me in the morning, Ben in the late afternoon and then with me again at night. I remember for the first year or so you kept trying to sleep in my room. I didn't want you to for a variety of reasons. Only one of which was that about 6 months into having you, and only when our realtionship had just started to become civil you had gotten sick. And instead of projectile vomitting all over Ben's room, the kitchen, or God forbid - OUTSIDE, you came into my room while I slept and puked all over my sheets, my floor and the window sill. Then you fell asleep on my bed. I'm sure you recall how pleased I was about that little adventure. For the following 6 months you'd still try to come into my room but I would often wake up and catch you skulking about before you could make it to my bed. I would throw pennies at you to discourage your progress. You would think this was a game of "find the pennies in the dark." That's not even a game. You were a dumb bunny. But that's ok, not every pet can be a crime solving Super Monkey.

I remember Ben brought home a scratching pad for you one time and the first thing you did was pee all over it. That was the end of the scratching pad. Ben was not too pleased with you over that. I had to act unhappy about it too Little Rock, but to be honest (and I know I told you this myself months later, but it can't hurt to reiterate) that I thought it was pretty funny. My mom always liked you from the start Kanner. She must have known you were a keeper even if I didn't want to believe it. She would send you cat nip and various kitty treats on holidays. And Nanny would always ask about you. I felt like you were my foster kid after a while. Maybe people had such an interest in you because I was always taking pictures of you with your friends Flat Eric and Spider-Man. I know you thought Eric and Spidey were a bunch of hams, (and they are!), but you all seemed to develop a good circle of friends together. I know you also liked setting up a pen-pal program with your look-alike cousins in New York City. Your Auntie Mo was always sad to see you when she visited because you reminded her of her "wigs" back at home. She always called you "docile". I know you don't know what that means, but I think you had an idea it meant, "kind of slow". Which was fine by you. You knew Harvard wasn't in the cards. And I know sometimes I'd take pictures of you in the snow when you just wanted to come in and eat and I know that you were fit to be tied when I kept stealing your chipmunk last summer. But I always stayed up late for you if you wanted to stay outside a little extra even if it was freezing cold. But still, I appreciate you putting up with my eccentricities.

Kenichi, I know this letter doesn't follow thematic structure, there are no topic sentences and my tenses keep shifting like a motherfucker. But I also know that you don't know what any of that even means, so I'm not too worried. Bud, I know this last year and a half or so has been kind of tough. You shared your living area with Sarah for a while - even though you quickly figured out that she was way more scared of you than vice versa. [Buddy, "vice versa" is just a fancy way of saying "or the other way around".] But that was about the only dog you put up with. I have a long scar on my left arm from you the day I had to rescue you from Fafu's dog and you were all feral and terrified and lashed out and got me good. I know the house seemed to change a lot. I know that when Ben left about a year ago you were a little confused. Not that "little confused" was new for you. He hadn't been around much at that point anyway so it was a pretty easy transition. Then it was officially just Koonroon and me. I started letting you sleep in my room/bed - despite the fact that you made me regret it often. Whether it was because you felt the need to bite my elbow while I slept, or sit on my neck, or sniff my ears. Still, it was nice to know that you needed me. I bought you special treats from the store and I would accidentally drop ingredients from my turkey sub on the floor for you, just like I used to do with my cat. I know we had a scare with that business at the vets last fall and that was one of the scariest, stressful moments I've experienced in the last few years. The thought that something permanant could have happened to you . . . I didn't think I could deal with it. So much change has been going on this last year, and you were the constant thing I could always depend on.

You always asked me about my day when I came home, even if you didn't really want to hear about. You always thought you were "letting" me win at checkers, but in reality, I was "letting" you "let" me win at checkers. You celebrated the Red Sox win with me. You watched the twists and turns of Alias and Lost with me. I shook my head in dismay at your inability to drink water like a real cat. But that was ok, you're a little "special". Just like me Kanner.

I left for Vermont this last weekend for your Auntie Mo's birthday. I left you extra food, extra water and cleaned out your kitty litter. When I came home I couldn't find you. I looked all over the house for you while yelling your variety of names. I went out in the woods, thinking maybe Ben had stopped by and let you out. I couldn't find you anywhere Ranner and I started to get really worried. I called Ben to ask if he'd seen you. And he told me he had. He told me that while I was gone he came and took you and you were going to live with Ben, Fafu, and the dog now.

Kenichi, I want you to know that you didn't do anything wrong and I'm sorry I didn't get to say goodbye to you. And that I miss you. Even if you're not a dog.

It's been real,


ps - If you were to violently pee all over everything in sight then I will know that I taught you everything I could and it would make me very proud.

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