Dog Person? Cat Person? People Person? . . .
THEM: "So are you a 'cat' or a 'dog' person?"
ME: "Neither. I mean, I guess if I had to choose, I'd be a 'dog' person but I am pretty sure there would have to be a gun to my head."
THEM: "Oh, come on. Are you such a tough guy that you can't love a cat or a dog?"
ME: "No. I don't even like most PEOPLE on this planet - why would I have a preference for the beasts around us?"
THEM: (blank stare)
So. Yeah. Apparently I'm not performing to my best potential these days because - generally speaking - that conversation ends with actual tension and them challenging me to admit that I'm really a big softie OR them implying I'm actually a sociopath that doesn't deserve the love of G-d's creatures. One time (okay, maybe twice) it was both.
I should clarify . . . I really don't like animals. Sure. I loved our family dog, Lily, when we had her and I took care of her as needed (food, water, bathroom, occasional walks) but I was more than happy to acknowledge that she was older, low maintenance, and generally happy to be left alone. I love Gus (the world's crankiest guinea pig) but that's because he is a 1 pound version of me and if I didn't love him - my counseling would go back to twice a week. I can also tell you - without a moment's hesitation - that the cat that lived with us could have honestly choked to death on one of those oversized fireballs from the vending machines that cats and kids love to eat so much right in front of me and I would simply complain about having to clean up all that red dye #5 and her corpse. Yeah. I said it. I don't WISH death on her but if she's going to eat human candy that is bigger than the esophagus (and cats DO eat those things, right?) and if it goes wrong - that is a her problem. Plain and simple.
I should also clarify this . . . I'm not a luke warm person. I'm all "in" or all "out." If a woman, man, child, physical possession, pretentious indie-rock band, or guest on Fresh Air appeals to me - I'm faithful forever. If, on the other hand, a woman, man, child, thing, or person that likes poetry that I can't "connect" with comes around - I'm probably never going to really embrace them or go out of my way to receive their embrace (unless they have a soft, sweet nature about them and smell pretty but then it is just for the hug).
I KNOW I'm not "better" than them and I know this level of candor probably doesn't help make me seem any more warm and fuzzy than your average aloof, arrogant, self-centered man that believes cats eat fireballs. And that is fine.
My college priest (yes, I was raised Catholic and loved the church for a long, long time) once said that if you can't count all your real friends on one hand, you're not being honest with yourself. My heart goes out to people that lost digits in high school shop class but I think the point is that five TRUE friends is all you really need. You can have thousands of relationships, acquaintances, people, etc. and I think that is true (I know approximately 4.2 million people on this earth and I like 2.1 million of them but I am truly close with MAYBE 5 people).
I could go into a rant here about my belief that people who openly profess love for cats and dogs are either, deep down, sad people that crave acceptance (animals so freely give) from people who simply won't give it to them or they have been abused at some point in their life and loving and animal is their escape from that pain or they have a much, much more serious problem - a big, juicy, overflowing heart. Instead I'll cut to the moral of it . . . blek. Instead, I'll say this . . .
Love what you love. Be who you are. Own it. I have plenty of things that I DO love that are equally as silly as animals (reading, knitting, hummus, Google products, no-sugar added canned fruit cocktail, etc.) and there are people in my life (my daughter and . . . oh . . . what'stheirface . . . you know . . . ) who I would give the entire world to. I'm not immune to love and respect and kindness. But I'm also not going to lie and identify myself as a "dog" or "cat" person simply to make the woman in the bible verse embroidered golf shirt feel better.
Seriously though - cats DO eat fireballs, right?