I had a conversation with my editor earlier this week that had us both laughing our heads off even though it wasn't meant to be funny.
It was about how others perceive us, and the factors that mold us into who we are -- comparative to the underlying backstory of fictional characters and why they behave the way they do on the page.
I was telling her how my mom once came for a visit and handed me a little care package. Inside, along with a bunch of fresh baking, I found a beautiful ceramic plaque that said Cat Lover.
Confused, I asked who it was for.
"You," she said.
I studied it, worried this slip of hers might be an early sign of Alzheimers.
"Mom, it's gorgeous," I said gently. "But I'm not really a big cat lover."
She crossed her arms. "You love cats."
"No, not really."
"Then why do you have four?"
I opened my mouth and then shut it again. She had me on that one. I did have four cats, and yet until she gave me that little plaque, I'd never considered myself a big 'cat lover'.
The first one was found at a landfill site inside a box of dead kittens someone had drowned. Somehow she'd survived. Her name is Brady and she's now twelve. Two years later, our Newfoundland dog brought home a kitten she'd found in the bush. The mother had been killed by a lynx, so we kept her and called her Java.
The next one was going to be put down in three days (the sign on his cage said so) and after walking past it half a dozen times, I finally caved and took him home, complaining the entire way. My boys named him Buzz (after Buzz Lightyear) and it took my husband almost three weeks to notice we'd gotten another one (keep in mind, he travels a lot).
Then there's the fourth cat, who has an interesting story.
My stepdaughter (I hate calling her this, but saying 'daughter' implies her mom doesn't exist and that's not right -- it's a dilemna I'll have to address in a separate post). Anyhow, my stepdaughter wanted to get a cat for her mom as a surprise, so I went with her to pick one out. We bought the cat, the cage, the food and then her mom broke the news to both of us that she didn't want a cat. Her name became Roo; she's currently asleep on top my manuscript.
Today, I'm down to two. Java had diabetes and had to be put to sleep and a few years after we got Buzz, he began adopting every bed in the house as his own personal litter box, so he went the same route.
So... am I a cat lover? I guess the evidence points that way, doesn't it? And yet, if you asked me, I'd probably say it's more of a 'heart issue' than anything else. Either that or I have no back bone. You decide.