Thursday, August 12, 2010
You blink hard, squinting to double-check what you’re looking at. You can’t believe your eyes. There is just no mistaking it. You are looking at the fossil of a house cat. At first glance, you believed it to be a Smilodon, or Saber-toothed Tiger. You and your colleagues had come to believe you’d made a startling discovery, changing the placement of the saber-tooth from the Pleistocene epoch to the Mesozoic era.
“My god,” you say. “Can it be? The saber-tooth first emerged in the late Cretaceous? This is revolutionary; this will change everything; this will make us famous!” But upon closer inspection it is revealed it is not the fossilized skeleton of a baby saber-toothed tiger, swallowed whole by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is a house cat. And what’s worse, you have reason to suspect it is your house cat. After all, you are a respected paleontologist and your cat is missing. You have many respected friends, in many respected fields, in many respected scholastic communities. Scientists. Physicists. Mathematicians. Surely, one, or all of them, could have broken into your home and played a practical joke on you, sending your cat back to the Cretaceous.
But why? You think to yourself. Why would they do such a thing? You tell yourself to be rational. After all, you are a respected paleontologist. You have done nothing wrong to provoke this kind of misconduct from your friends. You praise their accomplishments. You répondez s'il vous plait to their social galas in a timely fashion. You even gave one of their children an Iguanodon thumb on their birthday.
Surely, this cannot be the case.
But it is, and you realize this shortly after the X-rays have confirmed your greatest fears. This is your cat. There are fillings on the cat’s teeth from the time your wife made you take the cat to the cat-dentist. There is a sudden bubbling of resentment in your stomach. It rises up through your esophagus and seeps out of your throat, filling your mouth with a hot, sour taste. You try to place it. Your indignation tastes like asparagus.
Your first thought is to be angry with your wife for making you take the cat to get fillings in the first place. The bill from the cat-dentist was unbelievable. Who started this monopoly on cat fillings? And, of course, she made you pay for it. It wasn’t even your idea to get the cat; technically the cat belonged to her. This makes you even angrier. There is a second gush of anger. It fills your mouth with an even hotter, sourer taste. It is directed at your respected friends in the scholastic community. There is no longer any doubt in your mind. They are responsible for this. You are sure of it. This is the only explanation for the placement of your cat. By filling your T-rex’s belly with your housecat, they have completely overshadowed your fossil findings by unraveling the mysteries of space and time. They have time traveled your cat.
People will not even recognize the massive bulk of T-rex fossil that took you months to uncover, you think. Week after week of your sweating and scraping, your scratching and persistence, undermined by a Felis Catus! Anybody who lays eyes on this gorgeous discovery will immediately look past it and instead see a housecat named Wiggins, whose three back molars are covered with dull, metal fillings. Even your colleagues, those same colleagues who dug by your side for days and weeks and months, dusted and toiled and labored with you under that hot, Arizona sun, can now only see that stupid fucking cat.
“This is so exciting!” they say.
“Wait until people find out about this!” they say.
“Wait until we share this with the world!” they say.
“Now, now, now,” you say, trying to calm the hysteria. “There is no reason to get excited. For all we know this cat could have just wandered into the Cretaceous era by accident. Poor little kitty probably just got lost.” But you know this is a lie. The second these words dribble from your mouth and fall flat onto your shirt, you feel the same sensation you feel when you scratch sandpaper: agitated shivers. Your neck grows hot. You feel angry, betrayed. A few of your colleagues stifle their laughter at your wandering cat hypothesis. Maybe they’re in on it, too, you think. Maybe they all thought it would be funny to spoil your hard work in the desert. Maybe they all thought it would be hilarious if they cheapened those hours you spent in front of your dinosaur books as a child, dreaming about this moment, about this moment of yours they have ruined. You suspect your wife is behind this, too.
This her way of getting back at you for complaining about how expensive the cat’s fillings were, you decide. Maybe she’s sleeping with the Scientist. The Mathematician. The Physicist. Maybe she’s sleeping with all three of them. Maybe they’re all fucking right now, you think. Humping and groping and sweating and laughing, thrusting and coming and howling at your expense – at the idea of how ridiculous you look. You were a rational and respected paleontologist. Now you are certain of nothing. The only thing you can be certain of is this: no one will ever believe you when you tell them your cat sauntered in the Cretaceous era and was eaten by a dinosaur. No one is ever going to believe that at all. It is probably one of the most stupid things that any one person can hear. Telling somebody that your cat got lost, and was eaten by a dinosaur?
That’s just going to sound fucking ridiculous.