Friday, July 05, 2013

COLUMN: Cat Mayor

Somebody asked me the other day why I've never considered running for political office. I'm pretty sure the maniacal laugh I responded with was answer enough.

For one, I know there's video of my college years out there somewhere, and I'm pretty sure TMZ could have the footage online by the time I even set up a podium for my first press conference. Thanks, but I prefer my life relatively scandal-free, thanks.

And I suppose there's the small matter of me not really knowing a thing about politics. I like to think that I'm plugged in and fairly well-rounded in my political leanings, but that's hooey. Truth is, if it's not on the front page of this paper or the first ten minutes of "The Daily Show," it's usually out of my loop or over my head. Besides, I'd like to think that you people deserve someone in control of your fiscal future who's capable of doing simple math without having to count on his fingers.

More than anything, though, I don't deal well with confrontation. If I get a negative comment on a performance review at work, my stomach ties up in knots, I pace around the house, and can't sleep for a week. When you run for office, random strangers end up hating you just because your favorite color is either blue or red. I can't take that kind of pressure. Not many people could.

That's why politicians are an entirely different breed of animal. And in Mexico, they're actually an entirely different breed of animal.

July 7th is election day across Mexico. And in the eastern town of Xalapa, the leading candidate for mayor is an orange-eyed black and white kitten named Morris. He might only be 10 months old, but he's already got 110,000 Facebook followers and a successful line of campaign t-shirts that read "YES WE CAT!" According to the Associated Press, Morris stands a fair chance at winning the election behind his campaign motto, "Tired of Voting for Rats? Vote For a Cat."

A witty way to protest a political system rife with corruption? You bet... But then I got to pondering. And you know what? When it comes down to it, I don't know if you could come up with a candidate better suited for a mayoral position than a cat. Think about it:

• Food shortages would never be a problem. There would be NO greater concern to a cat administration. I'm pretty sure my cats can tell you exactly how many pellets of cat chow are currently in inventory based on one shake of the bag alone. You run low on food and there'd be heck to pay at the next city council meeting.

• Civic defense would be a way of life. My cats have two primary motivations in life. Food is first. Second is making sure of what's going on Outside, and specifically making sure that Outside never comes Inside and that Outside knows that Inside belongs to Inside. Occasionally Outside will send a feral ambassador for a back porch screen door summit. It never goes well. My two indoor cats appear to mostly hate one another, but they will forever remain a unified front against Outside.

• Cat Mayor would NOT play by the rules. Cats have no rules. "Don't claw the furniture!" Cat Mayor laughs at you. "Don't jump on the kitchen countertop!" Cat Mayor does not compute.

• Cat Mayor would be a tough negotiator. Last week, I fell asleep on the couch. Silly me forgot to ask my cats' permission first. Worse yet, I had the unmitigated gall to nap my way through dinnertime. BAP. Zzzz. BAP. I'm pretty sure I'm asleep but I'm also pretty sure there's a paw hitting my head. BAP "Mrow." BAP BAP "Mrow." "SHUT UP STUPID CAT!" BAP. "Mrow mrowwwwwwwwr." Guess who won?

• Cat Mayor would take things to new heights. The other day, I watched one of my cats confidently climb the stairs to my loft bedroom, nimbly jump onto the tiny precarious ledge of the loft, and instantly lose her balance and tumble off. But before I could even go "OMIGOSH" and run to her aide, she managed to push off of the staircase handrail, do a mid-air 360 ollie, land in a forward somersault on the couch one full story below, and casually look over at me like, "What? I TOTALLY meant to do that."

• Cat Mayor would know how to command attention and clean up his own messes. There is no worse noise on Earth than that of a cat hacking up a hairball. And when that noise invaded my slumber at 4 a.m. the other night, I was duly grossed out. Yet my naive little semi-conscious brain thought, "Don't worry. It'll stop soon," and I attempted my best to sleep through it. That was when the simple realization hit me like a horror movie: THE NOISE IS COMING FROM ABOVE YOUR HEAD. Sure enough, I was asleep on the couch and my cat was inches above me on the backrest about to vomit directly onto my face. How I summoned the fortitude I will never know, but in the blink of an eye, I reached up, grabbed the cat, and blindly heaved her as far away from my head as I could. I heard her safely land and hack up what I'd reckon to be a level 5 biohazard. The next morning, the floor was spotless. I'm not asking any questions.

• Cat Mayor can turn on the charm. I'm pretty sure if an axe murderer stormed into my house and chopped me into itty bitty pieces, my cats would still put on the big sad eyes, flop over, and mandate a belly rub. If the axe murderer had FOOD, new alliances would instantly be formed. It's like any good business relationship: you scratch MY back, and I'll... demand that you keep scratching it.

• And lastly, Cat Mayor wouldn't need a fat cat donor when Cat Mayor IS a fat cat himself.

Pshaw, you say. Surely, Shane, there's no way a town could survive with a feline mayor. I'm being ludicrous, right? Right?

It turns out our friends in Xalapa are behind the times -- especially if you've ever been to Talkeetna, Alaska. It's a small village and tourist destination at the base of Mt. McKinley. Oh, and for the past 16 years, it's been presided over by a tailless cat named Stubbs, the duly elected mayor of Talkeetna. And, according to various news stories written on Stubbs over the years, his approval ratings remain high to this day. Sure, he sleeps a lot, and he definitely sheds more than your average mayor, but during his reign, he's kept taxes low, checks in with area businesses on a daily basis (especially the ones serving food), and isn't afraid to interact with tourists.

So, Mayor Pauley, you can rest in the knowledge that I'm not coming for your title any time in the near future. I cannot, however, speak for either of my two housemates. I'm pretty sure one of them is giving me a stump speech right now. Either that or she wants food. Either way, I have to go.

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