Life Sentences, Day 142: The Totally Inoffensive Story of Purrty the Pretty Kitty and the Bright Little Bluebird

February 18th, 2011

Okay, I’m through having line drives hit at me.  Let’s see anyone get mad at this one.  No more facetiousness.

Not very long ago, in a perfectly safe, racially balanced, mostly union neighborhood not far from where YOU live there was a cat.

Purrty wasn’t a real cat.  She was a stuffed cat.  Her little girl, Ashley, wasn’t so little any more and had left home to go to college, where she was studying either to be a lawyer or a teacher, or perhaps both at the same time.  So now the room where Ashley had played constructive learning games with Purrty was empty except for a judicious selection of multicultural pictures and a PBS calendar on the wall, along with Ashley’s bed, its frame of renewable bamboo and its mattress of memory foam made from recycled plastic bottles scooped out of the Pacific Gyre.

And Purrty, the only stuffed toy left from Ashley’s childhood, was lonely.  Nobody ever came to see her except a little bluebird that landed on her windowsill each day, just inches from where Purrty sat at the end of Ashley’s empty bed.  Purrty waited for the bluebird every day, and every time the bluebird landed it gave her a quick, nervous glance,which Purrty knew was caused by instinctive stereotyping, profiling, if you will.  She knew that what the bluebird thought every day when he first saw Purrty was, Cats eat birds.

But Purrty didn’t blame the bluebird for that. She knew, after all, that some birds had been eaten by some cats.  So whenever the bluebird landed, Purrty did her best to stretch her hand-sewn mouth into the friendliest smile she could manage, and she struggled to overcome her shyness.

One day, she was so lonely she couldn’t help it.  She said, “Hello.”

The bluebird gave a little jump and flutter, and when it landed it was at the far end of the windowsill.  It cocked its little blue head at Purrty, looking at her first out of one eye and then the other. Then it said, “Mmmmm-mmmmm. Talking cat.  No, thanks,” and it started to spread its wings.

“Wait,” Purrty said desperately.  “I’m not a real cat.”

The bluebird stopped but kept its closer eye on her.

“I’m a stuffed cat,” Purrty said, “Real cats have mange and fleas and can get ticks that cause dread Lyme Disease and they have claws and teeth and sometimes inadvertently give children unwanted lessons in the mechanics of reproduction.   I’m The Safer Alternative™ and my name is Purrty© the Pretty Kitty.”

The bird hadn’t left, so Purrty continued, eagerly stumbling over her words.  “I’m covered in organic fair-trade Egyptian cotton from a collective that donates one-third of its proceeds to a foundation that fixes harelips in animals of many species, and I’m stuffed with Guusdown®, a hypoallergenic Natural Fluff made from hemp plants from which the THC has been pre-extracted.  The buttons that form my eyes have been certified by the American Pediatric Association as No-Go-Down™, which means they’re too large to be swallowed by a child under the age of four.”

“And you don’t eat birds,” the bluebird said.

Purrty said, “Oh, no.  I’m a Vegan.”

The bluebird said, “Well what do you know.”

“Not much,” Purrty said.  “Nothing really happens here, and –”

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” the bluebird said.  “Just a figure of speech.”  And it took exactly one hop closer to Purrty.

“You’re so pretty,” Purrty said.  “How did you get to be such a beautiful color?”

“Long story short,” said the bluebird, “my ancestors were dinosaurs, ate pretty much everything in sight for a couple of hundred thousand years until the Brotherhood of the Fat and Slow filed a brief with the Creator, claiming we had unfair adaptive advantages.  The Creator decided against us and heaved an astronomical hardball at the Caribbean that cooled things off until the biggest of us died.  Those of us who were left, all peewees, had our scales and teeth confiscated under a Zero Tolerance policy and were assigned a maximum size. Everybody was so busy thinking about our teeth that they weren’t paying attention to our arms, and they didn’t object when we formed a bargaining collective to have them turn into these.”  The bluebird spread his wings.

“What a happy ending!” Purrty exclaimed, using one of her allotment of enthusiastic exclamation points and wishing she could clap her little front paws together.

“It ain’t over till it’s over,” said the Bluebird.  “Now the Society for the Advancement of Those That Crawl On Their Belly Like a Reptile have filed a lawsuit.  Just envy, if you ask me.”

“I’m sure they have a valid point of view,” Purrty said.

The two new friends smiled at each other and agreed to agree.  Then — suddenly — there was something or someone else on the windowsill, a little fat plump slightly overweight plus-size boy made of something white and puffy.  “Hi,” he said cheerily, stubbing his thumb into his chest and leaving a powdery dent.  “I’m Marty® the Marshmallow Boy©™®, and I’m mighty pleased to meetcha!.”

Maybe to be continued tomorrow.  Or perhaps we’ll go straight to “Pillow Fighting for Freedom: The Soft Revolution.”

16 Responses to “Life Sentences, Day 142: The Totally Inoffensive Story of Purrty the Pretty Kitty and the Bright Little Bluebird”

  1. Dana King Says:

    I am shocked–shocked!!–to see the only male in the story depicted as a soft, malleable, “marshmallow.” What kind of symbolism is this to show to young minds still seeking their place in the world, to advocate they have no backbone? This is just the type of man who will abandon families, fail to meet financial obligations, and stick to your teeth after burning the inside of your mouth.

    Shame.

  2. EverettK Says:

    Ah, ya Gawdam Bleeding Heart Liberal™®, whynchya get a real job and do something productive, earn yer right to pump air?

    By the way, loved the way you brought in the “exclamation point” proclamation from DorothyL. I’m just surprised that one of the characters wasn’t a potty mouth. (Oops, some folks hate the phrase “potty mouth,” sorry! Oops, there goes my allotment of exciting punctuation. Sigh.)

  3. micael hallinan Says:

    THAT,S MORE LIKE IT! Keep up the good work.

  4. Laren Bright Says:

    Marshmallow boy? Anyone we know?

  5. Suzanna Says:

    Oh, Timmy, you’re such a kidder. Now, can the real Tim please come out to play?

  6. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Although I’ve had a great laugh at this, the real Tim is fine with me because he is well, “real.” Do you think politically correct fairy tales are your future? I hope not. Well, maybe. BTW, just finished “Everything but the Squeal” (review posted), and jumped when I saw the first F-bomb on the page. I calmed down after that-too much going on to worry about language. Gentle irony-Simeon’s thought that computers will never replace phone calls, and hand written letters. Look what twenty years has wrought.

  7. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Well, this is better. Even my brother likes it.

    And those of you who don’t like it, don’t not like it very much, if you follow me. MUCH better than the blaze of hatred that followed ZERO TOLERANCE.

    Dana, I’m just doing my best to overcome centuries of gender injustice in children’s stories. I know you actually understand. Purrty may be a stuffed cat, but she’s a stuffed cat who’s a strong woman character, with a clear sense of what she believes in.

    Everett, DorothyL has had a formative influence on my prose style, although I must admit some surprise at your use of the term “potty mouth.” Surely “rest room mouth” would have made the point.

    Thank you, Mikey. Approval at last.

    Laren, yes, but identifying him would be a negative thing to do. Just thinking of it makes me want to light some incense.

    Suzanna and Lil, I appreciate your support, but that Tim is no more. He had a blinding vision on the Road to Damascus, and now I look with pity upon the old Tim and All His Works.

    No, this is the road of the future. I’ll describe it in much more detail tomorrow.

  8. Suzanna Says:

    Oh, dear.

    I am now deeply offended that the Old Tim has been transformed by a random vision.

    I have high hopes that the Real Old, ahem, the Old Tim will be back when he returns from Damascus.

  9. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Susanna- Love your comment. I think you meant the Old Real Tim will return from Damascus. Wasn’t there someone who said “I may not agree with your statement, but I will fight to the death your right to say it?” Maybe I’m just waterlogged. it’s been raining for five days, and more is on the way. Hopefully, this doesn’t bleed into your books, Tim.

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Ohhh . . . .

    What do I do now????

    I’m trying not to offend but I’ve offended. What a dilemma.

    Whaddya mean, real old?

    Wait until tomorrow’s post. I’m sure you’ll like the direction I’m taking.

    And there is no return from Damascus.

  11. greg smith Says:

    Hey, I have a sneaking suspicion that the whole Kitty, Birdie, Marshmallow thing was, in fact, facetious and I think I’m deeply offended.

    Problem is, I’m not sure if you were serious or not so I’m not sure how I feel – except tricked. So if you thought you were going to get out of the mess you stirred up by pretending to be contrite and reformed, you have another think coming.

    I have every right to be offended by the way I choose to interpret whatever you say, and I recommend you wipe that tone of voice off your face.

    I haven’t been this mad since the day I heard Shakespeare said we should get rid of all the lawyers. I haven’t actually read any of his confusing works but I did check this fact on Snopes.

    So smarty pants, I hope you now understand that there is no room for controversy in this public forum. You might confuse more people and we all know where that will lead – to more controversy. I personally don’t keep company with people who don’t agree with me. I know what’s what and I’m not about to change my mind.

    Have a nice day!

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Um Um Um Um Um Um. What to do? What to do? Is there no way to leave only happy people in my wake? All I want is to be a butterfly, leaving a little sweetness behind.

    All I can say is, if you think I’m being facetious I’ve failed miserably. It’s a good thing my house is only two stories high or you would have heard the last of me.

    Tomorrow, you’ll see the master plan for this site in the future. I like to think it will be a digital rainbow with gold at both ends, lighting the sky with color and blessing all those who are fortunate enough to see it, without offending those who prefer sunny weather.

    Together, I’m sure we can do it.

    As the Japanese would say, LET’S NICE!

  13. Debbi Says:

    Okay. This is what we get for rising to the bait. Apparently. 🙂

    Funny. No one’s ever accused me of being overly PC before. lol

  14. Larissa Says:

    You’re my hero. (c:

  15. Jaden Says:

    This is what I get for reading the posts backwards. I feel somehow that I may never get to read the end of this remarkable tale. How can I go on without knowing the fate of Purrty the Cat, the bluebird, and the Marshmallow Boy?

  16. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Debbi — CONGRATULATIONS for making it into Amazon’s Top 100 paid Kindle downloads with LEAST WANTED. Great news.

    Riss and Jaden, respectively: thanks for the adulation (I get little enough of it), and the ending of Purrty’s story is waiting in the wings, although it keeps being shouldered aside by something even more wonderful. One tip: the Marshmallow Boy isn’t all he seems to be.

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