It’s times like these that make me wonder about the power of a name. Yet again. (My propensity for superstition certainly does not help.)
I wake up, on this fine day, to multicolored strands of yarn laced and crisscrossed around leg chairs, tables, looped over the television, unraveling in pools of color at my feet. For the flash of a second before shock gives way to rage, I can appreciate that it’s beautiful. Really, it’s quite beautiful. The basket where the yarn is kept lays sideways, at the bottom of the highest bookshelf I had perched it on, in an increasingly desperate bid to keep it out of reach. The culprit sits on the aforementioned shelf where the basket used to be, chewing on my knitting needles, purring contentedly and eyeing me with a mixture of sorry and we both know you’re not going to do a thing about it. And he’s right. It’s not his fault he is so evil: I’m the one who named him Voldemort. And he wears it so well.
The thing with Voldemort is that he keeps you on your toes, as all cats do. It’s like Forrest Gumps’s box of chocolates. It’s like a messed up game of roulette. One second he’s chewing on your arm, putting his entire head in your water glass, tipping it in the process, or peeing in your shoes, and the next, he is giving you a cat version of a hug, wrapping his arms around your neck when you lie down, licking your hair affectionately or doing figure eights around your legs.
Some days, he can be found climbing the curtains, scratching his way through raw meat I’ve left on the counter to defrost, or escaping as soon as someone opens the front door; other days, are so quiet, as he sleeps for stretches of hours on armrests, that it is hard to believe he could hurt a fly. My list of grievances include, but are certainly not limited to: rows of mugs artfully swiped off tables, earrings mercilessly ripped out of my earlobes by a hook-ed claw, guitar strings gnawed and yanked off, plants ripped to shreds, string lights from which he loves to dangle, toilet paper shredded like confetti on the floor. Some of his best work I discovered in the morning, because he likes to operate at night.
People approach my “situation” with mingled attitudes of sympathy and wouldn’t want to be you, depending on whether they tolerate, or downright hate cats. But mostly, I am told that things will change when he gets older and more accustomed to domesticity. The only adjustment I can see is in his size: once a kitten so small he could be carried on my forearm, in the three years since, Voldemort can reach the small of my back when he stands on his hind legs — which happens much too often. It happens when he is throwing a tantrum, his nails digging into my back, because he cannot see what is happening on a table above him; it happens when the mailman is desperately trying to do his job, and deliver a package; it happens when a friend comes over, and Voldemort attempts to climb their leg in effusive, invasive greeting.
Again, it is not his fault that I named him after an evil wizard. Maybe if he was a Jon Snow or a Holden Caulfield, he wouldn’t be so maddening, and so cunning about it, too. But it’s evenings like these, after the yarn debacle of this morning, when his little face genuinely lights up when I walk through the door, and he nibbles my shoes in lieu of a "hello" that are reminders that it is worth it.
Because after all, in many ways, Voldemort has rescued me as much as I have him. On more than one occasion, his meticulous and rehearsed detachment transformed into fierce hostility in the face of people who later turned out to have been deceitful; he has sensed, more than once, when I was in distress, and came trotting from another room to lay nonchalantly at my feet; I, in turn, have canceled many an engagement for the simple joy of an evening playing fetch with him (with Q-tips, his unexplainable obsession). Perhaps he feels the kindred Slytherin spirit we share, or perhaps, unlike his literary namesake, Voldemort can actually be nice sometimes. And this is a thought that pacifies me.
That is, until the following morning, when I wake to see what fresh hell he has decided to come up with.