I have just received a disconcerting compliment from a female veterinarian that makes me realize I need to give you some reassurances on my manhood which is in absolutely no doubt whatsoever, no matter what some liars may be saying.
This female vet compliments me for admitting openly that I am a friend of cats. "We still see some men who are embarrassed to admit they care about a cat," she says. I gather from that comment that there is some kind of a general feeling out there among fools that it is perhaps a tad unmanly to be partial to cats. I didn't know that.
But I stand corrected. After all, when a woman writes to you out of the blue and says that she just wants you to know that at least she has no doubts about your manhood no matter what everybody else is saying it gets a real man's attention.
As I read that letter (unconsciously reaching inside my shirt and scratching all that hair on my chest) I realized that there is perhaps some general perception that a man is a sissy if he pals around with some wimpy cat.
Well, just let me reassure you on that score, lest there be any doubt: While it is true that I hang out with cats, you have to understand that these are very tough cats we're talking about here. These are pretty rough customers big, brawny brute cats who snarl at strangers and bring huge, dangerous mice home day after day.
These cats are killers and it takes a pretty nervy guy (someone like me, who regularly wears cowboy boots) to sleep in the same house with them with his bare throat exposed.
During those few moments each day when they are neither eating nor sleeping, you run the risk that, when you least expect it, the jungle could well up in them and they could revert to natural ways too horrible to contemplate.
And my wife (a woman who sleeps right in the same bed I do) agrees with me. I had not realized there was any doubt on that score (and neither had my woman). However, I had been aware of the myth that dog ownership is somehow affiliated with manliness. I don't know how that ever got started. True, you are more likely to see a man driving around town in a pickup truck with a huge dog slobbering beside him than with a huge cat slobbering beside him.
And you may also see a lot of these men driving along in their pickups slobbering right along with their slobbering dogs, just a couple of peaceful pals glad to be in each other's company. They're both good souls and the dog wouldn't hurt anybody. These are the sorts of dogs who might slobber a burglar to death, but they would never bite one.
Those men are, by definition, as brave and as manly as I am (and I used to drink whiskey and smoke and regularly hurt myself in other manly ways). Men with friendly dogs fear no one.
Indeed, it is amazing how often the men with friendly dogs the men without mean dogs have no gun rack in their pickups either. These are trusting, self-assured men like me (hairy-chested men with female wives and cowboy boots) who are secure in the world.
But that brings up another kind of man a man who keeps a vicious dog. It is amazing how often those men have a gun rack in their pickups with at least one gun in it.
Candidly, that dog and that gun rack are not the sign of a fearless man. That is the sign of a fearful man. When I see a man with a loaded gun rack and a mean dog beside him, I don't consider how brave he is. I wonder what he's afraid of.
Some of us, on the other hand, do not require a gun wherever we go. We do not require the services of a killer dog to stand between us and the demons that roam our terrified imaginations.
Some of us are so brave, so manly that we dare go forth each day (in boots and married to our woman) protected only by a very small animal.
But don't get any ideas. If you should be foolish enough to try anything, be warned that I have at my side a killer cat, a pit kitty, eight pounds of death ready to strike.
Be warned as well that a cat also has hair on its chest.
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