Wednesday, March 23, 2016

And the candidates are...

Wednesday morning Clem awoke to a very bleary-eyed Zeke staring her in the face. Next to her was a pile of paper, each page toothmarked where Zeke had bitten into it to drag it up onto the couch. “This is all of them. I couldn't figure out how to make the database program run, so I put all the results into a spreadsheet. Name, contact info, ratings on all sorts of things.” Having said this, Zeke flopped onto his side and covered his eyes with his paws. “I think I'll sleep for the rest of the day. It took me all night to do this.”

Clementine was impressed. She didn't think he'd be able to type his name without misspelling it, much less develop a spreadsheet to record all the information. Leafing through the list, she noticed something odd, though. Many of the cats (and other animals) had an entry in a column titled “PC”, and it was the name of one of the presidential candidates, or occasionally another name. She looked over at Zeke, but he was sound asleep so she figured she'd check out some of the emails herself.

It was a great surprise to see that many of these cats were as partisan as some of the Yarn Lady's Facebook friends. They wanted to be the First Cat only if the candidate they preferred was elected. She shook her head and even laughed a bit at some of them. Didn't these cats realize that this was their opportunity to be of service to their country? They might even succeed in bringing peace to the Middle East, if only all the relevant parties would come to the White House and be charmed into understanding how much better it was to be kind and loving, rather than constantly being angry.

Ah, well. Maybe she needed to expand her search beyond the DC metropolitan area. Perhaps a cat from, say, Montana would be a better idea. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Looking for candidate to be First Cat

Clementine stretched luxuriously as she woke up late Monday morning. She'd had a lovely long sleep, disturbed only by Zeke's comings and goings. He'd been restless last night, which was unusual. Clem wandered into the living room, greeted the yarn lady and then visited the kitchen for a few mouthfuls of crunchy food. She settled onto the hassock and watched the yarn lady rush around finding the various things she needed for wherever she was going. Keys, phone, knitting of course, wallet, various pieces of paper, a book – at that point Clem closed her eyes. It was too painful. Humans needed way too much stuff. They should be more like cats. No accessories required.

Finally she was ready and she called out that she'd be back in a few hours. Clem waited a few moments to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything and then logged into her email. Wow, she had a lot of messages. And oddly enough they all had the subject 'Looking for candidate to be First Cat'. She opened the most recent and saw this:

Looking up at the ceiling, Clementine wondered if perhaps she'd gotten up in the night and posted something that might have resulted in all these emails. They appeared to have come from Craigslist, and yes, she did have a Craigslist account. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Ezekiel quietly slinking toward the hallway. She leapt over the arm of the chair and took off in pursuit of the furry miscreant. Cornered in the hallway by the closed bedroom door, Zeke began talking so fast she could barely understand him. “Well, you wanted to find cats to become candidates for First Cat, and I couldn't sleep last night, so I went on Craigslist and checked to see if we could post an ad there for cats to respond to. I don't have an account, so I used yours, and well, next thing I knew I'd created an ad and posted it. I didn't mean to post it, I was just going to make a draft of it and show it to you in the morning, but it looked so good that after I looked at the preview, I, well, kind of hit the post button.” Zeke bowed his head and braced for the head smack he knew was coming.

Nothing happened. Zeke looked up to find Clementine staring icily at him. “You know I don't like anyone using my accounts, and I don't even want to know how you got my password. But it's done now, and there are dozens of animals out there who've responded to the ad. It will be your job to go through each one and do an initial screening. Set up a database to record the name and contact information for each candidate, and make sure to attach any photos. You probably should also figure out a way to determine how well they meet the criteria you set out, and rate each applicant accordingly. I'll expect a summary with thumbnail photos by tomorrow morning, and every morning for as long as we continue to get responses. Oh, and come up with a standard reply or two for all our potential candidates. Thank you for applying and we'll be collecting information type of thing. There probably should be a second one for non-cats, saying that at this time we're not considering other species.”

Zeke sat there staring at Clementine. He wasn't as dumb as he looked, but he wasn't sure how one would set up a database. He barely knew what one was. But looking at Clem's face, he knew that there was no negotiating this issue. He might be bigger, he might be stronger, but both of them knew who was the top cat in the house, and it wasn't Zeke. He sighed and headed for the computer.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What every presidential candidate needs

Clementine logged onto Facebook and scrolled through her news feed. There were two new posts from Slinky Longfellow, a fellow cat and FB friend from Pennsylvania, a story from Charlene Butterbean, an internet celebrity cat, about her trip to the vet to have her teeth cleaned and dozens of reposts from her followers about presidential candidates. A few of those posts extolled the virtues of the poster's preferred candidate, but most of them were simply smear campaigns against a candidate the poster opposed.

Since Clementine had actually met all of the candidates she read the posts with a good deal of skepticism. No, Ted Cruz does not eat babies for breakfast. At least on the road, he eats McDonald's egg white breakfast sandwiches. And no, Hillary Clinton is not auditioning for The Voice next season whether or not she wins the election. She can't carry a tune to save her life. And again no, Donald Trump is not planning to build a wall around Washington DC. He's planning on building a wall the entire length of the US/Mexico border.

The one thing that was obvious from her time on the road meeting the candidates was that they were very stressed people. Ben Carson had been the most mellow of all of the candidates, and the only one to actually pick Clementine up and spend time scratching her head and feeling her purr. By the time he put her down, he was genuinely smiling.

The conclusion was obvious. The presidential candidates needed cats. She'd written to all of them to thank them for taking time to meet her, and had suggested to each of them that they add a cat to their campaign entourage. The responses she'd received were not positive. They ranged from explanations that staffers were allergic to cats to concerns about litter boxes and the ventilation system of their airplanes.

It was a bit disappointing that none of the candidates were interested in taking a cat on the road, but as Clementine thought more about the problem it occurred to her that the whoever won the election, his or her stress wasn't going to decrease once he/she entered the White House. It would increase. Congress would still likely be deadlocked, whichever party lost would be likely be petty and criticize every word out of the new president's mouth and the media would be hovering like vultures waiting for something to pounce on.

Clem knew from her interviews that none of the candidates had cats. A few had dogs, and likely those dogs would come to Washington, but that didn't preclude there being a First Cat. Not if was a cat who could jump onto the desk in the Oval Office when things got tense defuse the tension with purrs and headbutts. Not just any cat would do for that job. It had to be a cat with a strong purr, one that was a snuggler, but yet not too needy. Lots of cats would probably like to live in the White House. Heck, Clem would, except that it would mean leaving her beloved yarn lady.

The more she thought about it, the better the idea seemed. She talked it over with Zeke, and he agreed that it would be a cushy job, one that many cats would jump at. Clem giggled at that. Jump at. Cats would pounce at an opportunity like this. But how would something like that be decided? An ad on Craig's list? There would be no way the new president would be able to read through all the responses.

Then it hit her. There should be an election for the First Cat. Maybe she could even get it on the ballot for November. Oh, there was a lot of thinking to be done about this.