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12/18/99 The Merge Concept
11/19/99 Degrees of Sickness
10/24/99 The Finger Game
10/14/99 Learning Very Slowly
09/26/99 Serfs Up
09/04/99 Kindergarten
08/15/99 The Son Also Rises
08/06/99 Time to Listen

The Finger Game

I would like to introduce you to my cat, Misty -- or, as she sees herself, Huntress of the Night and Vessel of the Untamed Spirit.

I don't subscribe to the theory that you're either a "cat person" or a "dog person." I cherish all animals, men included.

In fact, I need your help. There is a good chance that I have crossed the line between cat lover and cat freak. We've all felt weak at the sight of a kitten that is so precious, we drool. God made kittens this cute to prevent us from killing them when they destroy our curtains. Their charms make us weak, demand our attention, melt our troubles, and compel us to pay a dollar per can for Sheba. Misty knows that she can always stop me dead in my tracks by rolling onto her back and curling her paws. That's worth a tummy rub every time, even if the house were on fire.

This would all be fine and good, but I have arrived at a whole new level of scary. Sometimes when I go out at night, I leave the television on to keep the cat company. Have you done that? ... Do you look in the TV Guide beforehand? When I'm working at the computer and Misty rolls into a fluffball on my lap, I will pee my pants before I stand up and disrupt her slumber. I let her christen the litter box before I'm done pouring the sand. I groom her with my own hairbrush. I give her my dental floss to play with before I'm done flossing.

On one level, you might understand why some of us coddle our cats this way. They are, after all, great friends. Who else would follow you around all day, lick your ears while you watch TV, and ultimately fall asleep in your lap? On another level, I'm concerned that there are no limits to my pampering. The other night, I was relaxing with a Coors or three, when Misty wanted to play The Finger Game.

She rolled onto her back, curled her toes, and said with her eyes, "Give me your phalange." Being a mere human, I obeyed. She didn't bite my fingers the way she normally does, but licked them instead, which made me buckle in adoration. Too... cute... Need... help... Little did I know that she wasn't giving me kitty kisses but was tenderizing the meat. The next moment, Misty pinned my pinky finger in her jaws and gnawed at my bones with a precious little snarl. Man, did it hurt.

The scary part: when the pain grew so bad that I couldn't stand it, instead of pulling my hand back like a sane person, I extended my next finger. And she chomped it with the same feral bliss. She did not bite hard enough to draw blood because she knew that would end The Finger Game, but she tested the physics of skin perforation.

When that second finger couldn't bear the pain any longer, I extended my next finger. And so it went until Misty had chewed up every finger on my right hand. At which point I offered my left hand! Who was I to deny this darling creature so much pleasure in my pain? Cats are not easy to please. Just last week, I purchased a $15 cat toy for Misty, and she played with the wrapper for an hour. So it goes.

As Misty neared the end of her ten-course meal, her eyes glazed over with the contentment of a glutton. I cringed every time those needle-tip teeth dipped into my skin, but I hung in there till the end.

If there is anyone out there who can help me with this disorder, I would love to hear your advice. Is there medication I can take or some 12-Step Program? I've only got ten fingers, and they're pretty chewed up. Of course, I do still have my toes...