Sometimes, it seems that, despite a film degree from Northwestern, I missed a few cinematic concepts and terms during my college education. “Meet-cute” is one such example, and I have the recent film The Holiday (2006) to thank for my newfound knowledge. As Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach), an adorable screenwriter from the “golden days” of Hollywood, explains to Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet), “Say a man and a woman both need something to sleep in and both go to the same men's pajama department. The man says to the salesman, ‘I just need bottoms,’ and the woman says, ‘I just need a top.’ They look at each other and that's the ‘meet cute.’”
Well, in my world, a “meet-cute” has been a long time in coming. It’s not my meet-cute, of course. It's Ruby's. You see, for months now, Dan has been trying to get Ruby Azazel – our feisty, one-year-old cat, with a need for affection and a mind of her own – to interact with Gypsy – his in-laws’ sweet-tempered, bird-hunting, eleven-year-old wirehaired pointing griffon. The reason is simple: Despite my fervent desire for a kitty in my life – and Dan's willingness to appease said desire last year – he's made it quite clear that he just as fervently wants a dog. Hence, the need for a meet-cute – to see how Ruby might get along with a future canine in the family.
The problem, of course, is that, even as a kitten, Ruby was not fond of canines. On the few occasions that I had to transport her between the apartment and the car and back again, she would crouch down in her kitty carrier and observe the world around her, seemingly searching for enemies everywhere. Whenever she spied a dog – be it an obnoxious terrier or a pleasant labrador – she would hiss loudly until it went away. So, I had my doubts that Ruby would express anything but scorn toward poor Gypsy, sweet as she is.
Earlier in the summer, when Dan began bringing Gypsy over to the house, ostensibly to interact with our indoor kitty, things went roughly how I thought they would. As soon as Gypsy crossed our threshold, Ruby would come running from wherever she’d been napping to watch as Gypsy sniffed her toys, attempted to sample the food in her bowl, and tried to edge nearer to her furry little neighbor. But, despite her own curiosity, Ruby would never let Gypsy get very close to her, and if Gypsy ever stepped over the imaginary line of tolerance, Ruby would let her know with a tail puff, a hiss, and a swat, normally signaling the end of the visit. Over the ensuing months, Gypsy figured out that staying clear of Ruby, at least for part of the time, was advisable.
But, perhaps due to their ever-growing familiarity with each other, recent visits have proven to be a wee bit more promising. Ruby seems less wary of Gypsy’s presence and more, dare I say, eager for it. If she’s sitting up in our bedroom window (one of her favorite spots) and sees Dan and Gypsy headed for the house, she comes pounding across the second floor so quickly, it sounds like a sudden thunderstorm has descended upon the forest. Over the past few weeks, she and Gypsy have touched noses, sniffed each other’s rear ends, and alternately stalked each other around the house. Ruby even hisses less than she once did, reserving that unpleasant behavior for the moments that she feels really cornered.
Recently, I’ve noticed yet another change in Ruby’s behavior. A month ago, she would flop onto the floor and roll around on her back, as if inviting Gypsy to play with her. As soon as poor Gypsy would lumber over toward her, however, she would hop onto all fours and brace herself for the puff-hiss-and-swat routine. Devious as a, well, cat, she had obviously been luring the dog into a classic feline trap. But, during today’s visit, when Ruby flopped onto her back, she actually allowed Gypsy to get close enough to lick her belly – if the dog had been so inclined. Finally, a real meet-cute! For once, I had hope that we would one day be able to welcome home a dog of our own. I refuse to think about the obvious – that it’s a lot easier for my temperamental kitty to interact with an elderly dog than it might be for her to tolerate an energetic puppy. Guess we’ll just have to enjoy these interactions for the next couple of weeks – and cross the puppy bridge when we come to it.
4 hours ago