By Pam Sekula
I wrote this, my first published article, 21+ years ago and it appeared in the September/October 1986 issue of Alcoholism & Addiction magazine. Although the main characters have moved on, the subject matter still holds true. I hope you can use it, I don’t think the rights are an issue any longer.
Every member of the family is affected by the disease of alcoholism. Take pets, for instance. There are three in our household and each has a distinct personality, as most cats certainly do. But these personalities go beyond SFB (Standard Feline Behavior). These residents are definitely “COAs” (Cats of Alcoholics).
We are a family in recovery, but as we well know, the “ism” progresses for those family members without a program. The independent cars do not have a daily plan for living, either individually or as a group. Therefore, we are hesitant to project about their chances of recovery. Smokey, the oldest, is the Family Hero. She ventures outside by herself, is successful at catching insects, and hides under the hosta plants at the bird feeder. She complains loudly when she is in the house wanting to go out and jumps on the counter demanding food. Upon occasion, she is found atop the cupboards, draped over the edge in the vantage position of a little general. She was the first car and lets the others know it in no uncertain terms. Often she is a royal pain, as she tends to act the “perfect cat.”
Jimmy the Cat is our scapegoat. If ANYTHING goes wrong, we yell, “JIMMY, where are you?” Every cattail from the dried arrangement disappeared, the evidence was hanging from the mouth of Jimmy the Cat. A crash from the livingroom: there was Jimmy looking down from the mantle at the broken vase on the floor. If two out of three cats are fighting, it is Jimmy who has instigated the brawl. He stops for no more than 10 seconds for petting, and prefers to hide among the plants on the window seat.
Last, of course, is Motley, the Lost Child. At first we thought Motley was a bit slow, but that wasn’t the case. He was simply quiet, by a long shot, compared to his brother and sister. Instead of meowing, Motley seems to question us with short cries sounding more like a frightened guinea pig than a cat. He uses his long fluffy tail for silent expression, something like semaphores, only with one flag. Motley cuddles close without a sound, appears bewildered, and we have found him in front of the television watching re-runs of Wild Kingdom. Motley’s favorite sleeping places are under our daughter’s bedcovers or in the bathrub behind the shower curtain. The other cats push him away from the food dish, and he spends a lot of time staring out the window.
Recovery brings its own bag of joys and woes, but at least we have somewhere to go for help. Do you suppose someone will come up with a 12 Step “Feline-ship?” They would call it “Al-E-Cat!”
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