16 Maynard the Cat

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Our third school year was still fresh.  The house, the camaraderie, and the pets.  Yes pets.  I had gotten Nate a playmate.  A pure white Turkish Angora that I named Maynard, after Maynard G. Krebs, from the Dobie Gillis TV show that ran on CBS from September 29, 1959 until September 18, 1963.

This situation comedy about a girl crazy teenager was ahead of its time.  Its central characters would have felt equally at home in the late sixties:  Dobie Gillis, the confused romantic who could never figure out what he wanted from life, and Maynard G. Krebs, his carefree beatnik friend, television's primordial hippie.  During the show's four year run, Dobie and Maynard finished high school, enlisted in the army, and eventually went to junior college.  Dwayne Hickman starred as Dobie Gillis; his hair was lightened for the series, apparently to make him look younger (it grew darker as time wore on).  When Dobie wasn't at the malt shop trying to impress some sweet young thing, he could be found seated beneath a replica of Rodin's "The Thinker," trying to explain his thoughts to the audience. Bob Denver costarred as Dobie's good buddy, Maynard G. Kreb's, a goateed and sweat-shirted free spirit who shuddered whenever the word "work" was uttered.  Most people, however, will remember Denver as Gilligan. 

Maynard, the cat, was about eight weeks old when I got him. Terry had driven me to the address in an ad that simply read:  WHITE KITTENS; FREE TO GOOD HOME.  I had been looking to have a cat of my own as soon as I moved into the house on Burcham, or "The Left Paw of the Sphinx", as it had became nicknamed due to the magazine page of a photo of the Sphinx that I had taped to the window of the front door.  I grew up with cats, and my first pet away from home would mark an independence factor in my life.  I didn't really count the fish.  Sure they were good to fall asleep to, watching them from their setting near the bed.  Soon after, it would be Maynard to watch as he watched the fish.  Not that he could do any damage.  The damage would come a couple of terms later when Caesar, a friend and occasional instigator for the Chefs, had come over to buy a bag of weed.  I bent over to pick up the large, heavy scale that I had pilfered from a science classroom to weigh pot with.  As I bent over to pick up the scale, my ass bumped into a conga drum that was close to the aquarium.  The drum hit the aquarium and cracked the glass, causing water to come gushing out onto the floor.  The fish had all died from neglect several months earlier.  When the fish had been alive, Maynard would just sit there and paw at the glass in that cute little kitten way that I had always appreciated.  That was before Maynard became a stoner. 

Maynard first inhaled marijuana in the attic room when he was a kitten.  A few friends were over and we were all smoking pot out of a large wooden pipe next to an empty cardboard fruit box.  As is the case with a fruit box, the sides are solid with two large holes at the bottom of each side allowing the fruit to breathe.  It also allowed us to blow a shotgun of smoke from a hash pipe into the box after it was covered by a towel with a kitten inside.  Maynard happened to be walking by, as kittens tend to do, and was the perfect prey.

"Hey you guys, dig this", I said as I picked up Maynard.  I then placed him inside the fruit box.   "Quick, grab that towel and help me stretch it over the top. 

The General was nearby and did as instructed. Maynard was inside the box, poking his paws out of the holes when a finger appeared.  I inhaled deeply and stuck the end of the pipe in one of the holes. I then blew a shotgun of weed into the box that lasted at least twenty seconds.  The box filled with smoke, rings puffed out of the holes as Maynard struggled in vain to get out.

I removed the towel.  After a second Maynard stuck his head out of the box.  He looked really stoned, with a sort of cockeyed gaze, twitching his head and fluttering his ears a couple of times before I set him on the floor.  Maynard did a sort of John Wayne saunter as he walked away.  Everyone was laughing.  After that Maynard would sniff at the weed that was being passed around the room as he sat on someone's lap.  Catnip now did nothing for him.  He had found his drug of choice. 

When I took him home for the first time at Thanksgiving my grandmother smiled and said in her thick Greek accent,   "What's his name?  How about Fluffy, or snowball..."

"Maynard", was my reply. 

"Maynard?" shouted my grandmother.  "What kind of name that is? Change eet!"

I couldn’t believe she was trying to rename my cat, as if he wasn't named already.

"No, I'm not going to change it.  Maynard is his name.  It's the name he knows." I shot back, offended that she not only didn't like the name but that she demanded it be changed.  Such is the domineering way of citizens from the Old World.  Maynard kept his name and I carried him down to the recreation room while I played pool.

At this point in time Maynard was only about two and a half month's old.  He was small enough to stand on the pool table and chase the balls as they went down the pockets.  By Easter vacation he had grown large enough to stand on the floor and stretch to look over the top of the table.  He was huge and friendly, like Clarence the cross-eyed lion from the African adventure series of the 60's, "Daktari". 

At the Halloween party that was thrown at the Burcham house Maynard wore a black bow tie and stood at the bottom of the stairs perched on the end of the railing, as if to greet guests while they came in.   He stood there so perfectly, eyeing everyone as they entered, that people thought he was stuffed.  They didn’t realize that Maynard was just stoned.

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