Somebody posted this video on Facebook awhile back, and it made me chuckle for a couple of reasons. Primarily because (ahem) gay men aren’t the only ones who talk to their cats like this. More on that later.
It also made me chuckle because of the weird correlations people see between pets and gender and sexual orientation. And by people, in this context I mean conservatives, who are hilariously sensitive about gender roles. To-wit: Cats are for women; dogs are for men. Except for gay men; gay men have cats, too. Because gay men are really more like women than, you know, men-men. And if you’re a man, you should be insulted by any suggestion that you might be gay. Or, I guess, a woman.
I bring this up because every so often I’m stupid enough to get into political arguments on Twitter, and invariably – I mean, really: invariably – if you’re a liberal of the male persuasion and you get into a Twitter argument with a conservative, especially (but not necessarily) a conservative of the male persuasion, the conservative will: (1) call you gay; (2) insult your physical appearance; and (3) compare you (negatively, apparently, in the conservative’s mind) to a woman. Now, as to point number two, your Freudian-type psychologist might have a field day with the (purportedly straight) male conservative’s propensity to obsess over the male liberal’s physical appearance, but let’s set that aside.
The thing is that even today – in, what is it, 2013? – even today, conservative men think that calling a fellow man gay or comparing him to a woman is an insult. I make it a practice not to respond to those “insults” because they’re not, in fact, insults. I could, in the parlance of my Irish forebears, give a good goddam whether anybody thinks I’m gay. And as for being compared to a woman, let me just tell you: If you’re a middle aged man who’s run a marathon or two, it’s a scientific certainty that you’ve been outrun by more than a few women in your day.
I mean, in a race. Because otherwise that would just be creepy.
But so anyway, the last time I was stupid enough to get into an extended debate with conservatives on Twitter, three or four of them (yes, they tend to swarm like that), reciting the usual litany of conservative insults (you’re gay/ugly/effeminate), added a new wrinkle: Egad, man, you like cats!
If only they’d actually said Egad! That would have been awesome.
In any event, a few of them actually took the time to look through my time line, found pictures that I’d posted of our cats, and, I guess, tried to use that against me. Along the lines of: You must be a gay because – cats! Or something.
So, here’s the thing. In front of God (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster) and everyone, let me publicly declare: Yes, I like cats. At least our cats. I kind of adore them, in fact.
There. I said it. I’m out.
If you must know, I grew up a dog person, and I still love dogs. We had dogs when I was growing up, and I always assumed that once I was living on my own I’d have one, too. But my first apartment out of law school was a studio, which was too small for a dog and the lease didn’t allow them any way, and so I got a cat … and thus, my fate was sealed. I have had cats, either on my own or with one spouse or another, for the past twenty-five years.
But it’s more than that. I not only like cats, the fact is, I really don’t trust people who don’t like cats. Dogs are awesome; they’re extremely loyal and affectionate, and there are few beings on the planet who will love you like a dog will. But dogs are completely, utterly dependent on you. Cats are (contrary to popular belief) pretty affectionate too; you can develop a pretty strong human-pet bond with cats if you’re around them enough. Cats, however, are far more independent than dogs. They don’t want you smothering them with attention all the time. They’re okay having a little alone time now and then.
If this bothers you, this independent streak that cats have, then I’d suggest that’s more your problem than theirs. In fact, if you’re bothered by an animal that’s independent and isn’t constantly cloying for your attention, you might be kind of a control freak. And I have an abiding distrust of control freaks.
So I make no apologies for liking cats. I make no apologies for maybe, every so often, talking to them in the doting way humans sometimes talk to pets. Not that I’m putting that on video or anything. Because, shut up.
Don’t worry, though. I still love dogs.
Wait. Does that make me bi?