I figure one more vacation post is the most I can justify doing. That means we're not going to get posts on my video tour, a general discussion on board games, the movie "Glen or Glenda," my culinary adventures for the weekend, or the finer points of bacchi ball. I know, I'm disappointed too, but there's a new school year starting on Monday, so I really need to clear the slate for anything of interest. So today we're going to wrap things up with a look at a topic near and dear to the image files of the internet:
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "adorable" means situated at the mouth. ...Sorry, that's "adoral." "Adorable" means worthy of adoration and worship, or, alternatively, capable of inspiring an intense, passionate attachment. (To illustrate the latter usage, the dictionary uses a reference from C. D. Lewis that is... somewhat dated: " John McCormack, an adorable man, handsome as the top of the morning, racy and bawdy of tongue, a heroic figure with the simplicity of the heroic and a heart of gold.") Note that neither of these definitions include actually liking the adorable objects; following them strictly, "adoration" may even be viewed as a more intense form of "fascination."
Some context. My essential interactions in Toronto revolved around 10 beings: 4 human adults, one human baby, and four cats, evenly distributed among the two adult pairings. The human baby was four months old, the cats ranged from a year old to the double digits, and the adults probably wouldn't appreciate me posting their ages on an internet site.
I've got a huge weak spot for cats and young creatures. My Facebook avatar, for example, is a kitten wearing a hat. And just as it is no longer in fashion to refer to a man's adorability, I admit that this weak spot is perhaps not the manliest of preoccupations. However, I maintain that the surest sign of masculinity is to be so certain of your own masculinity that you can act in stereotypically unmasculine ways and still be certain of said masculinity.
...I'm also certain and sure that if I say this enough times, then it will become truth through repetition.
Anyway, the fondness for cats is easy enough to explain. My parents have owned various cats for my entire life. My brothers and I, once we moved into a larger place, got a cat of our own. As pets, cats have their benefits. They don't have the same intense loyalty as dogs, but they do have a greater sense of independence, which generally makes them more low-maintenance. Dogs need to be walked. They need to know you're close by. They need to excitedly greet/threaten newcomers. If they're not on their leash, they need to chase runners for blocks on end. (This last one may be the source of my any lingering grudges I hold against the noble canine species.) Cats need a change of litter, water, and food on a regular basis. Beyond that, they will present what level of affection they deign you deserve.
Every night I spent in Toronto, I stayed with people who owned multiple cats. And it struck me how much I missed just having a cat around. Just their presence at the foot of the bed can be comforting. And their idiosyncrasies are awesome--I've known cats with phobias of the outdoors, cats that purr at seismic levels rather than meowing, cats that dash across the room and attack your outstretched wrists because that is what you do with oustretched wrists, dammit. Cats are like mentally disturbed snowflakes--no two have the same disorders. They make humans look normal. I like that.
Babies, on the other hand... forget dogs being high-maintenance. Babies are so high maintenance that you'd swear there's some sort of deal going on between the manufacturer and the producer. Feed me, burp me, change me, look at me, dress me, feed me, feed me, wipe me, change me, listen to me cry for a few hours straight because I'm baby and I don't really have a lot of other options yet. The second night at Toronto, I stayed with some friends with a baby, and the mother was happy in the morning because, for the first time, the baby had slept for five consecutive hours during the night. When I get only five hours of sleep in a night, it's because I've just gone through a Batman marathon.
I'd love to make some cutting observations on how baby-obsessed the new parents were, but... well, it's been a while since I was around a newborn, and I was just as spell-bound. The baby rolled from its belly onto its back, twice, and this was absolutely amazing. Her parents gave me a quick car tour of Toronto, showing me such sites as the bridge whose construction is featured in Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion, and the actual Degrassi street, but I had a hard time paying attention because the baby had grabbed my finger in her teeny tiny fists and suddenly this was the coolest thing ever. The shine was wearing off a little by the time we headed back after supper though--baby was getting cranky. The parents tried the lesser tactics of rocking her carseat, and talking softly, then brought out the big guns: the mother grabbed her iPod, set it to static, and put it next to the baby--and the baby stopped crying instantly and just stared at the iPod for the rest of the trip. Spooky. She adored that static.
Do I need more adorability in my life? Perhaps. I looked at that baby, saw it coo and gurgle, felt whatever the male equivalent of a biological clock is ticking, and thought to myself--
--Man, I could really use a cat.