September’s monthly theme is Someone Special. There was only ever one soul this post could be about. My someone special is, was, and always will be, my beloved Boo.
He was with me for half my life. My constant companion, my soulmate, my Baby Boy.
His full name was Sebastian Niki Bach: The Next Incarnation. Yes, he was named for a heavy metal singer (I stuck Niki in because I liked it), though he had many nicknames: BooBaby, Catzilla, BastianBoo, Basniki, Big Black Panther Cat, Baby Boy, Bas, Bas-Asstian, Snotmuffin (don’t even ask), The Boss. Mostly I called him Boo. In fact, he knew when he was in trouble, because that’s the only time I used his actual name. And if he’d really done something bad, he got the whole thing!
The First Sebastian had died at barely five years old, and I was heartbroken. My mother was inexplicably drawn to the shelter that day in December, several months after. She can’t explain why – and my mom was never one to admit to flights of fancy or imagination and she certainly didn’t encourage it in me, either. But when she handed him to me, I knew my boy was home.
He was a long and lanky kitten, all legs and ears and tail. He was solid black – a soft, velvety color. His eyes were greenish then, and they later faded to a pale yellow-green, but one thing always remained constant: He had a splotch of amber over his right iris.
Can you believe that tiny little thing grew into such a behemoth? I didn’t call him Big Black Panther Cat for nothing!
He would sometimes nap on not one but two kitchen chairs. Stretched out full length, he was quite a large kitteh.
The picture above was taken when I was in my last semester of college, October of 2002 and it is my most prized of all. I came home from a long day at the law firm I was interning with, crammed my hair into a bun, scrubbed my makeup off, and collapsed onto the sofa. He knew I was tired, so he climbed up on my lap, in front of everyone, and just gazed into my eyes. I was lucky my mother was able to quickly and quietly snap the photo.
As a tiny kitten, he would crawl under the covers with me at night. When he got older, he slept curled up behind my knees. The last few years of his life he slept either curled around my head or on the pillow next to me. I would wake up and there he’d be.
His favorite toy as a kitten was what we called a “squirrel tail” made of nutria fur. He would hold it in his front paws and kick it with his back legs as hard as he could! Then he’d fall asleep with it in his arms. As he got older, he loved those little fur mice (we called them mousey-mouses). He learned to fetch when he was still quite small. I think I taught him with those tiny little fur mice, but he preferred a crumpled up cigarette package. I would yell “booga booga booga!” and toss the object, and he would bring it back to me and snuggle.
Boo was a Mama’s Boy, what my mother called a “one person cat.” He didn’t like anyone but me, period. But with me, he was the most loving, wonderful boy. It took my ex about eight months of hard sucking up before he even got to touch him. My dear friend Niklas traveled all the way from Sweden and was dying to meet Boo, whom I talked about constantly. But Niklas was over six and a half feet tall so Boo promptly hid under the sofa from him. We had to bribe him with a hairbrush before he would come out, and then he only tolerated Niklas’ brushing for a short while. Mr. Lucard is rather proud that Boo took to him in a few moments. It seemed odd to me at the time. Now I think he knew our time might be coming to an end, and wanted to give Alex his blessing.
Though not particularly fond of anyone but me, he actively hated my mother. Most of the time he ran from her; she is loud in every respect, from the stompy way she walks to the volume of her speech. But when she’d come to wake me for school, he’d get between us and meow at her as if trying to protect me. Mom never failed to advocate for him though, which is odd considering she was never an animal lover herself. He liked to nap on my altar (which I admit, he managed to do without disturbing anything). When I mentioned trying to break him of this habit, I was told “you leave him alone. He’s praying.” When I moved to my own place Mom was adamant that he be allowed out on my balcony (though I didn’t trust him). I was given two patio chairs when I moved out – “one for you, and one for Booboo.”
He was jealous of any other cats we had, but from the time he was a kitten he got along just fine with Misty, our American Eskimo Dog. He spent most of the first day with me hiding inside the big maroon recliner we had. Of course Misty had to stick her big snout in to see what all the fuss was about! Well, backed into his hidey hole, Boo did the only thing a scared kitten could – he swatted her across the nose. She went yelping across the room, and out came Boo strutting like cock of the walk. The two were fast friends after that, and it wasn’t unusual to find one chasing the other through the house or see them wrestling in the floor. I’ve always believed that’s how Boo got to be so big and muscular!
When I say he was my constant companion, I don’t exaggerate. Wherever I was, he was. In college, I had to keep a part of my desk clean so he could lay beside the keyboard as I worked or surfed the Net. If I was chilled out on the sofa, he was asleep on the back of it. If I was in my bedroom, so was he. In fact, he learned how to open my door at one point; you can imagine how frustrated he was when my father finally replaced the doorknob and he was unable to let himself in and out.
I spent very little time away from him, actually, until he was older. When I was in college, I spent an occasional night at my ex’s. He kept to himself while I was in class, sleeping behind the big sectional sofa or on my bed. He always came out when he heard the sound of my voice. He was the main reason I chose the school I chose; it was a fifteen minute drive, and as long as I lived with my parents I wasn’t required to live on campus where cats weren’t allowed. I simply couldn’t imagine leaving him behind for school! I only took one vacation away from him when he was young. It wasn’t until I met Mr. Lucard that I started traveling regularly. And then I always made sure to call and check up on him every day.
Boo was allowed outside only for a brief period after he was fixed. He loved staking out Mom’s bird feeders and chasing butterflies, but I simply couldn’t handle it. There were too many dogs and cruel kids in my rural neighborhood, and I worried too much. He had a better life inside, anyway. At least, that’s what I believe.
The First Sebastian had an arch-nemesis in Panda, the Himalayan next door. Boo was never introduced to Panda. But the second he first saw him out the window, it was on. He would twitch his tail and chatter his teeth and growl low in his throat. Panda was very friendly and he loved to nap on my Halloween hay bale every autumn. Boo didn’t like that one bit. Once when I started out the front door to pet Panda, Boo raced through the open door ahead of me and pounced on him! Neither were hurt, but it gave me a good scare. I was much more careful after that. But, even long after Panda’s mom moved out of the neighborhood with him, I could say “Big Fat Panda Cat” and Boo would head for the kitchen window.
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s bugs. And boy did Boo know it! He started hunting bugs completely on his own, but soon learned the phrase “Get da bug!” He loved stalking (and eating) whatever managed to find it’s way past our screens, be it a housefly, moth, or wasp. The only thing he didn’t eat were beetles; he mostly seemed bewildered by them. In 2008, my parent’s house had a major yellow-jacket invasion. I watched Boo follow a bee to the tv stand, and when it disappeared between two DVDs, he sat down to wait. I timed him. He sat there for ten full minutes waiting for that bee to re-emerge. When it did, one big paw made short work of it.
We sometimes called him Catzilla because of his size. I would hold him up and dance around to the song, changing the words to suit us, of course.
He was a blanket hog of the very first order. He claimed every blanket I ever bought, even though he had plenty of his own. One Halloween, Wal-Mart carried these nifty plush blankets with spooky designs – of course I bought the ghost pattern for Boo because, as I was wont to state, “it says his name!”
We also called him The Boss because he basically called the shots. No matter what was going on, Boo had to be considered. He wasn’t allowed out and he hated loud noises, so even house repairs and the like had to work around him. The bedroom I used was mostly his, he just let me sleep there. He never hesitated to make his wants and needs known, and I happily jumped when he called. Because I loved him more than life.
He did so many cute little things, it’s impossible to talk about them all. For instance, he’d only tolerate being held so long before he’d tap my nose with his paw to signal it was time to put him down. I once surprised him as he slept under a blanket in my old papasan chair, and he curled his paw into a fist and popped me in the eye! At night, as I was drifting off he wouldn’t hesitate to swat my cheek if I slacked off on his pettins. And many a morning I woke to him nomming my thumb – that was his way of waking me. He loved being brushed more than just about anything. He would purr so loudly and rub his chin against the brush. He was the best ever at head bonks; sometimes he rattled my teeth!
This has been a hard post to write. Mostly because I know it can never do my Baby Boy, or the relationship we had, justice. You would have had to have seen us to understand. And I have so many fond memories of games we played, things we did, and the cute things he got into…I could probably devote a blog to it.
Boo passed away the night before Halloween, 2010. I was in Salem, Massachusetts with Mr. Lucard for the holiday. Boo had had a sick tummy a few days before, but the vet said they could find nothing wrong. So off to my parents’ he went, and I got on the train to meet up with Mr. Lucard. I will always regret that, and I may never be able to forgive myself. Because if I’d been there, I could have gotten him to a vet. And even if nothing could have been done I could have held him in my arms as he died. I should have been there for him; he was always there for me.
It doesn’t help that I trusted my parents to care for him, and they didn’t try to get him to the vet a mile and a half from their house. My dad decided that, at sixteen years old, it was “his time.” That was not his decision to make. They they didn’t even bother calling me. My aunt happened to stop by, and when she realized he wasn’t doing well, she called me. I’m still dealing with that, too.
It might sound crazy to some, I don’t care. If you know me, this post has come as no surprise. He was The Son My World Revolved Around. And I liked it that way. I still miss him each and every day. It still hurts that he’s not here. He took a part of me with him when he left this world. I don’t sleep as well without him. I sometimes wake in the night and expect him to be on the pillow by my head.
So now I go to PetCo, and my vet here in Arlington, and I look into the eyes of every little black kitten hoping to see that soul I know so well. Because the Universe can’t be so cruel as to keep us apart forever.
And just for the record, had Mr. Lucard participated in this month’s theme, I know he would have written about Mr. Chewie Biteums without hesitation. He means as much to Mr. L as Boo Baby did to me, and we both fully and completely understand and accept that.