It was a Monday morning. The air was cool but humid and the sky was soft like soft Laffy Taffy, and a blueish-pink color that reminded me of a gender reveal party if the couple didn’t know the answer. I woke up early; after the 4 a.m. fanatics but before the mad rush to offices began. After spending an hour lifting my sandbags, engaging in an obligatory chat with my neighbor, and checking my mailbox for the first time this month, I sat down to work with a very large, very dark, cup of coffee.
Only I did a bad thing, and drank too much coffee. I started feeling goopy, like my fingers weren’t attached to my hands, weren’t attached to my arms, weren’t attached to my shoulders. It wouldn’t be so bad to feel like this if I didn’t feel like this most mornings. I wondered, briefly, if I’ve ever been close to caffeine poisoning. I wondered if caffeine is any better a drug than alcohol or crack cocaine or meth. A drug is a drug, right? Wrong, probably.
Me being high on caffeine, and it being a purple-skied Monday, I had some difficulty figuring out who to call. Not John, I thought, because John talks forever and I would need even more coffee in order to have a productive conversation with John. Not Amy, because she wasn’t very friendly last time we spoke. Not Bill, because Bill is very old and hard of hearing. I settled on cold-calling a strawberry farm, then a pumpkin patch, then a chamber of commerce. Chamber people have to be nice. It’s their job to be nice. If they’re not nice, they might get a bad Yelp review and their business would suffer.
I recently watched a documentary on Netflix all about cats and how they behave and how smart they are and also how cute they are and also how nuts they are. I learned that cats don’t have shoulder blades like humans do. Their arms (legs?) are attached to muscle instead of bone, which is why they can fit through small spaces and also why they’re so floppy sometimes. Their legs can turn in almost any direction. I learned that their whiskers grow to the width of their bodies, unless your cat is unduly fat, in which case even whiskers have a limit. I learned that cats know their names and form emotional bonds with humans and blink at you slowly to say “I love you.” And I learned that you can train cats to do tricks or behave in certain ways, but you can’t train them like dogs because dogs will do what you say, but cats sort of want to think that whatever they’re doing was their own idea. I wondered if I could somehow manipulate my cat into being my assistant. He could enter my call notes into Salesforce and find new customers for me to contact, and thereby (finally) earn his share of my small but mighty apartment.
I have to call people for my job, which means I have to talk to people all day, and some days it’s great fun. Other days, it’s quite exhausting and I find myself envying my cat. “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s cat,” I told my own cat the other day, as he eyed my neighbor’s cat, who is allowed to roam free outside the apartment complex. My neighbor’s cat is smart enough to avoid cars and people. She catches mice in the garden and carries bougainvillea leaves in her mouth. My cat sits in my window sill and stares outside, but never protests his life indoors. He has good (expensive) food here, and cat nip and a comfortable bed. He knows better than to return to life on the streets. Not to mention that he’s old and somewhat deaf, so he’s in the life stage that we all inevitably come to, of wanting to be home and comfortable as much as possible. His sleepiness was in direct opposition to my mania, and I paused for a moment to do a quick Google search.
In humans, lethal caffeine toxicity is estimated at between 150 and 200 mg/kg, meaning that an average adult would have to consume between 80 and 100 cups of coffee in a very short period of time in order to get very sick and/or die. Roughly 90 people die due to caffeine overdoses each year, which is ten times the number of people who die of shark attacks and four times the number of people who are killed by cows each year. The most coffee I’ve drank in a day is a standard, 12-cup pot, which, while totally egregious, is nowhere near lethal.
I was tired of my cats’ sleepiness, so I let him roll around in some cat nip. At least my sole office mate would match my energy for a while. Then I traded my coffee mug for a glass of water and called John, Amy, and Bill. None of them answered.
During the Netflix documentary, I also learned that cats are one of the few animals who activate 100% of their muscles when they jump. They can jump five to six times their length in height, which is the equivalent to a human jumping over a giraffe. I considered this, as I watched my cat do acrobatics across my grey tiled floor. “You’re a real nutjob,” I told him. But he didn’t answer either.
P.S. Listen to an audio version of this blog here.