This is a brief tale about a cat lady. MILK and Whiskey’s Japanese step grandmother, Grandma Yoshi, to be exact. Grandma Yoshi was not just a crazy cat lady in the traditional sense, she was also crazy in a non-traditional sense. Yoshi didn’t live in an apartment with cats sprawled three deep on every flat surface; she always had just one cat. However, in terms of lifetime cat ownership, for a one at a time cat owner that lady had a shitload of cats. And they were all named “Mimi”.
Yoshi was a sort of fast track to cat heaven for any cat she owned. She was not malicious in any way, she loved every last Mimi, but cats did not last long around her. They were constantly being hit by cars, eaten by coyotes, carried off by hawks, sucked into the closet by a poltergeist, you name it. A couple of times she house sat and cats that weren’t even hers got whacked. You shouldn’t let a really dumb Persian cat outside in the evening in coyote country, this never really sunk in with Yoshi.
Because of this high turnover of cats she picked one name and went with it. “Mimi” It didn’t matter if it was a boy or a girl, alley cat or kitten, purebred Himalayan or “domestic short hair” they were all named Mimi. Perhaps she developed this protocol during WWII when her future husband’s air wing was bombing the crap out of her pets and neighbors.
When we were kids if we found a stray kitten, or some kid with a box of kittens in front of the grocery store gave us a freebie, we would give it to Grandma Yoshi because the odds were she was short a cat. In the mid 80’s I didn’t think cats lived more than a couple years on average. (While writing this I have a weird mental image of a scruffy guy hanging around the corner of a pet store. “Hey bub… spare a cat?”)
The Mimi thing messed with our minds because we would name the latest gift cat “Tiger, Natas, Roger, Larry, Mittens etc” and then bring it with us to visit Grandma Yoshi. She would immediately rechristen the cat “Mimi” hug it and set it down to explore the latest house. (Yoshi liked to move a lot, but that is a tale for another post.) Then the next time we visited there would be a different cat.
“Where’s Larry?” We would ask.
“Oh you mean Mimi, there’s Mimi” She would reply proudly pointing at the latest cat. “You want a coke?”
We would stare dumbfounded at the new cat.
“Meow” New cat would offer hopefully, no idea that it was mere days away from achieving peace with the universe.
“good luck buddy.” Our dad would say as he tipped his beer in the direction of new Mimi.
“Larry was orange…” Milk would start to do the math.
“Shhhhhhh” Our stepmom would say. “Go play with Mimi while I help your dad with the U-Haul”