Miss Prissy

Tonight in the Red Apple grocery store, I stood behind the homeless man who carries his cat on his back.

“What’s your cat’s name?” I ask.

“Miss Prissy,” he says. “I don’t know why I called her that.”

She is every shorthair black-and-white domestic cat. “Hmm” was all I could say.

“Yeah, ya see that black spot on her nose? Yeah, I like that.”

I nod again as the grocery clerk helps him count out $1.50 for his 24-ounce master cylinder of beer.  “Everybody thinks it’s kind of crazy that I have this trained cat.”

“She seems a little tired,” I tell him.

“Naw, I live in a tent and she keeps the rats out. She’ll get going in a bit.” Smart man, I think to myself. I hope if I’m homeless, I remember that.

“Plus it’s nice to have someone to talk to, you know?”  He smiles and grabs the beer.  I notice his teeth.  I think he has dentures.  He walks toward the door, Miss Prissy’s head and back end bobbing on his shoulder.

“Hey, you guys have cats?” he asks, stopping just within range of the automatic door so that it jumps back and forth impatiently.  The grocery clerk and I look at each other.  “Everybody keeps giving me all this cat food!”

We shake our heads, the door jumps back and forth one more time as he says goodbye and hops on his blue BMX bike to ride to his tent.  Miss Prissy looks a little more alert gripping his shoulder.

“Thanks for being normal,” the clerk says.

I smile, “Now we both know that would not be any fun at all.”  She laughs and I keep thinking about how smart it would be to keep a cat if you lived in a tent.

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