The freshman college basketball player's first practice didn't go well, he thought, as far as his performance was concerned anyway. After practice the young player addressed his new coach, telling him he'd jump much higher and dunk the ball with more ease and regularity then he had in the first practice. He told his coach he wasn't sure why his ability to jump "Out of the gym," and dunk the ball hard had disappeared in his first ever college practice.
The freshman's coach told the boy that being a good player at the college level doesn't require one to jump extremely high or dunk fantastically well. The coach told the boy "The higher the level you play, the more a constant presence of the fundamentals is needed to succeed." The coach listed passing, short shots, defense and conditioning, as being much more important than extremely high jumping and hard dunking.
A greenhorn local short track stock car racer chatted with a wiry, weathered, worn, weary, venerable winning veteran race driver, about the do's and don'ts of circling a quarter-mile racetrack. The green-horn soaked in the veteran racer's advise the same way a Nun wanna-be attempts to soak in her Mother Superior's benevolent essence, on the first day of Nun school. The two racers parted as the race line-up came through the loud speaker, and the greenhorn could not quite believe the veteran racer's parting comment. "Sometimes if you drive slower, you'll go faster," the cagey old driver said.
A house-call making vet appreciated the cat owner's offer to hold his cat while the vet gave the cat her shots, clipped her nails, and checked her pittering little heart, and sharp tiny teeth. Toward the end of the check-up, the cat became restless and started to squirm. The owner held tight and the vet finished his work. The entire procedure took less then five minutes. The owner asked the vet how he's able to work on cats that have a less than calm demeanor. The vet said when he knows he's going to check on a particularly wily feline, he'll bring an assistant who is experienced in cat holding. But cats are strong, quick, and unpredictable, and the owner wondered if the vet and his assistant ever got scratched. The vet told the owner, "It may be hard to believe, but we rarely get scratched. The more gently you hold a cat, the more calm it's apt to be."
There's an old joke, I don't know it well, and I'll have to edit it for the column, but it's a good one -- An old bull and young bull are grazing in a field, looking off and away to a pasture full of heifers. The young bull says, "Hey, I'm going to run down there and kiss one of them heifers." The old bull looks at the young bull and says, "Why don't you walk down and kiss them all?"
My cat Scarlet nestled into a back cushion of my sofa and watched and listened to myself and my group of musicians rehearse for fully two hours. Every so often when we hit a clinker or ride the tempo and volume of a particular song particularly high, Scarlet's ears would perk back and her eyes would widen. She'd give a paw a lick or two, then settle back deep down into the cushion as the rehearsal continued.
The following afternoon, the gal who'll be dancing in my upcoming shows and I were rehearsing in the same space as the former night's music rehearsal. Scarlet paid little attention to the dancer's beautiful moves. Instead she spent most of the dance rehearsal off to the side, facing away from the dancer, cleaning. I have to assume Scarlet isn't much into dance.
Scarlet is into herself. Whether nestled and listening, or off to the side and cleaning, she seems relaxed and content. She listens with all her might, and she ignores and cleans with all her might, and she does both without the least bit of a sign of angst, or stress. Reason number one why cats have nine lives.
The coach, the veteran driver, the veterinarian, the old bull, and Scarlet, have got it figured out.
Hold the cat gently.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com