Monday, August 25, 2008

Why I Am Not Yet Married

Like a big rat scurrying by her foot in an alley, the little thing swoops by her right ankle and brushes its orange fur against her ashen skin.

She blurts out that familiar yelp she does whenever she’s startled. I laugh as she jerks her right leg and checks out what hit her.

Then, the unnerved creature jumps in front of its dinner and gives us a very mean glare. It looks as if it is going to charge like a bull with its two tiny ears aiming at us. It gives a warning growl which sounded more of a mating purr.

‘Cute, ’she exclaims!

Not wanting to use the same adjective, I say, ‘Yeah it’s adorable!’

Mistakenly sensing sarcasm in our voices and amazed looks, it stares more maliciously with its lucent green eyes. I was expecting that it would arc its body, erect its tail and stretch its four legs upward to look more intimidating and less Lilliputian, but it continues to pose with that same trying-hard-to-look-angry look a terrible B-movie actor does in a horrible B-movie.

‘Awww, you should get one babe,’ she blurts while slightly bending down to have a closer look. I didn’t say anything.

Obviously perturbed by our reaction, it attempts even harder to look fierce. But its charade just melts our hearts more. There’s no way that it can look scary, even if you put Freddy Krueger’s face on it. And if it were to replace a gargoyle which guards the door of a treasure castle, all the intruders would just pat its head and take a photo with it while doing that notorious Korean hand sign. And they would put the photo in Facebook. And their friends will also comment on the photo: Cute! Adorable!

I’m not undermining it abilities though. Despite its diminutive stature, and being considered as a harmless midget when compared to its much bigger and scarier cousins, it has survived through time not only by endearing humans to treat it as part of the family, but also by being a canny and adept beast. Whether in the woods or in the jungles of the metropolis, it can easily subsist without any help from people. And like all the fighters in Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, it also has a special ability. In fact in one episode in the National Geographic channel, this fascinating talent was showcased ---and that is to land on its four legs from a high fall, while doing 2 somersaults, 2 back-flips and 2 twists in the process. Hence, if you see one stuck up an electric post or a tree, there’s no need to call a fireman. Just goad the thing to jump and it will survive the plunge unscathed.

She walks to it nearer and attempts to pat its head. I pulled her back and said, ‘Just leave it alone.’

But, however skillful and athletic it is, it will always be a harmless and pusillanimous (no pun intended) creature to humans. The slightest rustling can surprise it like a crack junkie and the faintest provocation can make it jump and run for cover. And it will remain like this in fact and in appearance. I hope. Imagine yourself watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. But instead of the birds, these are the villains. It would not be as popular and as scary as the original, in spite of the higher amount of gore and body counts, because they would still look lovable and innocent even if they are tearing up your innards. And the probability of the movie’s fictional premise turning into reality will not even distress the viewers, since it is synonymous to cute chubby babies holding a killing spree. Look at the Itchy & Scratchy Show in The Simpsons. It is one of the most violent and explicit cartoons in television’s history. But it is still funny. And stupid. And cute.

And about cases of freak attack on humans, the only one I can recall is in When Animals Go Wild when the possessed thing spirals on a man’s leg, stops at the groin area and buries its fangs through his jeans. Up to this day, I’m still wondering what prompted the creature to bite the poor man’s meatball. But there is one thing I’m definite of, it is not vegetarian.

‘Hehehe, it’s really funny.’

‘And stupid. And cute.’

‘You should really get one,’ she reiterates. ‘Some of your neighbors keep one, even if it’s not allowed.’

‘Not at the moment,’ I say half-heartedly. ‘Anyway, I already have one, and it’s more intelligent and sweeter than this one.’ She blushes and pinches my arm.

‘Not at the moment,’ I say again but this time to myself. I picture myself cleaning its pee on the carpet and its shit on my kitchen floor, vacuuming its fur from the couch, ensuring that it doesn’t starve or thirst to death, begging my neighbors to take care of it while I’m on vacation, and bringing it over to a veterinarian for a regular check-up. I see myself calling it by its name and humanizing it by referring to it as he or she. It is not that I’m afraid, self-centered or I don’t have the time and money. It is not that I don’t want it or I don’t want to. It is just that I feel in my heart that I’m not ready yet. And my mind is not ready too. One fine day, I’ll feel and know that I’m ready.

Sensing that we are more charmed than terrified of its futile performance and that we are not interested in stealing its food, it lies down sideways, gives a funny-looking grin and shows its white underbelly. Its squinting eyes follow us as we exit the toilet’s threshold hand-in-hand. It wags it tail and licks its paws...

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