By Troy Headrick
So, for a while now, my wife has wanted a cat. We live in a typical suburban, middle-class neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas, and almost everyone on our street has a pet. Even though my wife grew up in Cairo, Egypt, a place where far fewer people keep domesticated animals, being around so many dogs and cats and their owners has rubbed off on my spouse.
In an attempt to find a furry friend, my wife has been trying to tame a feral cat in our neighborhood for the past couple of months. She puts out food and tries to approach him. She has even given him a name—“Mishmish,” the Arabic word for apricot, because he is the loveliest shade of orange. Her attempts, so far, have been nearly completely unsuccessful. Mishmish is still skittish and shies away from all human contact.
A couple of weeks ago, we heard, through the grapevine, that someone (a friend of a friend of a friend) was wanting to find a home for an ownerless cat that she’d been feeding on her patio for about a year. Over time, the cat had become quite docile and would allow humans to pet her. We contacted said individual and told her we’d be interested in providing this feline with a good home. We made a plan and set a date for when we’d drive to her place and get the cute, meowing creature.
For the next few days, the woman would frequently send us videos, photos, and emails about the cat. (She’d decided to call it “Bobcat” even though that name didn’t seem like a good fit.) Her emails were full of Bobcat anecdotes and information about the cat’s eating, drinking, and sleeping habits. We learned about her favorite foods and pooping routines. After a few days, I knew more about the feline than I know about some of my own family members.
On the morning we’d scheduled to drive to her place to get the cat, I texted the lady and told her we were on our way. Several days earlier, she’d placed a pet carrier, with the door open, on her patio, and Bobcat had taken to sleeping in it. As a matter of fact, the woman texted me just as we were departing, that Bobcat was currently sleeping in the cage. Everything was working out perfectly.
After a twenty-minute drive, we arrived at the woman’s apartment complex and were informed that Bobcat wasn’t around. According to the story we were told, a man in a nearby apartment had started working on his car and had made noise during his repairs. Hearing the racket, Bobcat had bolted from the carrier and was now nowhere to be seen. To make a long story short, we left without the cat.
This was very suspicious. A number of questions immediately came to mind. Why did we not see anyone doing car repairs upon our arrival? Why had the woman not simply closed the carrier door as soon as I told her we were on our way? Once the cat had disappeared, why hadn’t she texted us while we were in route? She could have easily saved us a trip. In the end, just before leaving her place empty-handed, the woman apologized profusely and promised to text us as soon as the cat returned. It’s now been seven days and still no text.
It didn’t take a genius to see that the woman had changed her mind about giving us the cat but hadn’t been brave enough to tell us the truth. (Ironically, she works as a psychoanalyst, a profession that helps people look inward, find the truth, and then find a bit of healing in the process.)
The moral of the story is this. Honesty is always the best policy. We certainly would have understood that she’d had second thoughts; we all change our minds about all sorts of things all the time. There’s no sin in that, and there would have been no sin in this situation either. Instead, rather than simply leveling with us, she had created an elaborate story that was terribly transparent. (And she gets paid quite handsomely for seeing through people’s elaborate fabrications. Does she not realize that others have this same capability whether they get paid to do so or not?)
And the moral of the story is this. This is how people end up spinning great webs of untruth and then get trapped in them. What would the woman have said next had we texted her rather than waiting for her to do so? What would her second story have been? It would certainly have had to be at least as elaborate as the first one was, or would she have chosen to confess at that point? Telling the truth might cause a short-lived discomfort but then the pain ends, and one feels that a heavy load has been lifted from one’s shoulders. Piling untruths on top of one another compounds this discomfort.
Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here.