You will not regret reading this.
This essay is permitted without permission from The New Yorker, but given the relatively small readership of this blog and the age of this essay, I feel like The New Yorker doesn’t really care. Do you, New Yorker? Wait — don’t answer that: I’m conflicted about how I want you to answer.
Attention: Lost Cat
Reward if you find my cat, Sally. Sally is eleven, but she has the face of a cat much younger. She is taffy-colored and has no distinguishing features except for the spot on her lung. Sally understands eight commands. Nine, if you count “Drop it! Drop the baby!” Sally loves a good steak but will gladly have whatever you are having. If she seems to have trouble swallowing, call Dr. Sidarsky, at (570) 555-1212. Dr. Sidarsky calls every day to ask if Sally is back. Once, Dr. Sidarsky invited me to a tennis match where a little girl who could not speak English beat the defending champion. If you ask me, Dr. Sidarsky has a crush on me. Before Sally was lost, Dr. Sidarsky nominated me for Pet Owner of the Year. When the judges came to our house, Sally would not come down from the breezeway. I’m not saying that was the reason I lost the title, but it cost me points.
Sally was last seen in Kansas, where she fell out of my car — a 1998 yellow Toyota Corolla, Indiana license plate FJ3-JR57. To tell you the truth, Sally didn’t actually fall. My ex-husband was trying to push me and my suitcases out of the car and Sally was in the way. I’d opened the door to throw out a pair of pants and some other garbage of my ex-husband’s. I hate a messy car. My ex-husband says he was leaning over to close the door, but I definitely felt a nudge. Sally and the gourmet-cooking cassettes that I had taken out of the library landed all over Route 23 in Kansas. Sally ran toward Nebraska. We were on the ramp toward Missouri. My ex-husband’s sister Sugar lives in Nebraska. I don’t like Sugar and I know Sugar does not like me. She sent me a bathroom scale as a wedding gift. Normally, I have nothing to do with Sugar, but I called her just in case Sally had turned up there. Sometimes animals have a sixth sense about knowing who your relatives are and how to get in touch. As usual, Sugar was unpleasant. She said I sounded like I had gained weight.
Sally has been missing for more than a year, and I am losing hope. Her mother belonged to my grandfather, and now my grandfather is dead. Sally is my last link to my grandfather. If you find Sally and she is dead, send her back anyway. My parents are dead, but I have their steak knives. Once, I had a locket of my grandmother’s. I gave it to my daughter for Christmas, since my daughter was named after my grandmother, who was named after her grandmother, who was named after Sally, but not that Sally. When I lost my daughter in the custody suit, I lost the locket, too. I lost everything. Well, not all of the steak knives. Or the weight — I didn’t lose that, either.
In spite of what the judge said, my ex-husband is not fit to care for my daughter, pony or no pony. The only things my ex-husband can cook are Texas Tommies. My ex-husband’s girlfriend cannot cook, either, but I have to admit, she knows good food.
If I still had Sally, I think the judge would have let me keep my daughter. Pets are a sign of a loving home life. I know the judge would have been impressed if I had been Pet Owner of the Year. I might have gone into politics if I had been Pet Owner of the Year, maybe alderman. I am not too old to get into politics, and I have a lot of ideas. Let’s not forget that after the Russian Revolution they turned the stock exchange into an aquarium. For the people! We could do something like that. If Sally came back, I would take a picture of me holding her and use that on my campaign poster. And if she didn’t my slogan could be “Help me help you find my cat!” Even if you don’t find Sally, please send cash. It’s not the same thing as a cat, but it is a consolation.