Sunday, March 24, 2013

Living In Israel --- Susan's Cat --- Eleanor

                                                                                elinor        אלינור         

The story so far


Friday morning, early, the landlord arrived with his giant wife, three children and a baby. He installed a new fuse box—the envy of all the neighbours. Collecting his children he apologized for the American toilet roll strewn over the flat—they had never seen such a remarkable item. I thanked him profusely, or should I say pro-fuse-ly… 

The story continues ...

After my spending some months in the apartment with the brand-new fuse box, the owners decided to move back to Jerusalem and my lease was not to be renewed. I found a new flat in a totally Sephardic neighbourhood where I was known as hashketa, the quiet one, apparently because I didn’t yell. Of course I didn’t yell—I had no one to yell at—which also meant a certain level of loneliness, so when my daughter rang one day to ask if I would take Susan’s cat, I was inclined to say yes. My landlord assured me that pets were acceptable because as he said, There is nothing in the flat to damage except your belongings.

Now Susan was famous amongst my daughter’s friends for having ‘dragged’ her cat from her home in the USA to Israel when she made aliyah. Yes, the cat had to be put into ­­­quarantine for many expensive months—not that Israel hadn’t already accumulated more than a fair share of unattached and even feral felines—but Susan was determined to keep her cat, unaccountably named Squat. Susan adored Squat and provided her with a comfy bed, an elegant litter box, a dandy flea collar and the best cat-food available. She spoiled that cat something fierce and then she met Mr Right—who was allergic to cats—and Squat was on the market. Out. Nice knowing you. So the cat needed a new home and I was it.

Susan brought Squat to my flat, introduced us at breakneck speed, dumped her high-priced stuff just inside my front door and ran. Mr R was waiting in her car and that cat was all mine.

So, I said to Squat, the first order of business—besides determining where you will carry out your various functions—is to change your name. Squeak? Squawk? I couldn’t sustain the ‘squa’ sound unless I were to call her Squash. Unacceptable. After some weeks I looked at that cat’s lovely face and said Don’t worry, sweetheart—we’ll think of something. Goodness gracious me—Sweetheart! And so she remained. We came to terms. She kept me warm; I kept her fed. The perfect relationship.

Then, in the manner of renters everywhere, I shifted flats again and my new landlord was allergic, too. No cat hair allowed. Moral dilemma—is finding the right apartment in Jerusalem worth more than a cat? Sadly I canvassed everyone I knew and finally found one of the bakers at a restaurant I frequented who had a disabled younger sister who’d love the company of my cat. I hesitated, because it took a very long time to bond with that cat, but he assured me that his sister was gentle and patient by nature. All right, then. Off she was carried to an unknown and possibly unidentifiable village where, I was assured by someone less kind, they probably eat cats. I don’t think so.

cross posted  Geoffff's Joint


  1. Ha, I have apparently earned a reputation as a 'quiet one,' too. I live in the rear half of the first floor of a typical three-story inner city North Philadelphia rowhouse, with a shop in the front half of the first floor and two apartments above. The woman above me, from out of nowhere, recently praised me for being the quietest neighbor she's ever had.

    Of course, it probably helps that my place is too small (can't be much more than like 308 square feet - I've never asked or measured, but 22 deep x 14 wide sounds about right, although I do have the even tinier concrete back 'yard' for container gardening as well) for guests to do anything but use the bathroom on our way out to somewhere else. Also, I watch the teevee machine with no sound and just captions, since meningitis took most of my hearing years ago. And when I listen to music, I do it with my headphones. The only time I ever make noise louder than typing is when I'm showering or cooking. And neither of those two things are particularly loud, either.

    I do not sing in the shower, for the record. ;)

    I have three feral cats that take turns living out back behind my kitchen. I've named my favorite one "Thing." The others I just call "The Orange One" and "The Gray One." Conveniently enough, they're color coded. Thing is all-black, and resembles my mother's ancient cat, which she got as a newborn from a horse farm in Jamesburg, NJ in 1996, when I was a senior in high school.

    Thing, unfortunately, seems to be the weakest of the three, so when the others seek shelter and he or she is already back there, they generally just kick his or her ass and chase him up over the wall back onto the street. Survival of the fittest, I guess. Thing is the only one I feed when I can, though.

    Keep the stories coming!

    1. Eleanor's little stories are terrific and always have a subtle political undertone.

      The American cat that made aliyah and ended up the companion of an unknown disabled Arab girl.


  2. And speaking of the back. I want to clear it out (hardy, woody winter weeds that grow through brick and concrete suck!) by next weekend and build a simple raised bed or two (if I can fit two) out there for this year.

    As soon as tomorrow's snow goes away, I should have a few hours each evening to get to work. Should finally be Spring, weather-wise, beginning Tuesday. Which means it's about time to start thinking of tomatoes and eggplant!

    Well, at least up out here in our part of the planet... ;)