Bachelors Are We/Born to be Free
By Ed Goldman
My cat, Osborn the Magnificent, really likes the bachelor life. Mine, mainly—though, technically, he qualifies as a bachelor as well.
While he’s developed serious crushes on two women I dated (years apart, I hasten to add) he seems to be most contented when it’s just the two of us hanging around the condo we share here in Cramps ‘R’ Common.
Oops, did it again. Campus Commons.
I always forget we’re just a few blocks from Sacramento State University (the Campus part of the name, natch) since many of the people I see in my community left college life behind them several decades ago—even if they were professors well into their late 70s. Not that they’re not a peppy bunch. Many of the couples take brisk strolls through the neighborhood in matching sweat-suits, some with matching walkers.
Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely admire them for their persistence and I know it’s just a matter of a few years and a few return engagements with my sciatic nerve before I join them; as I’ve mentioned to anyone who’ll listen, my back goes out more often than I do. And this is all predicated on my being lucky enough to even hang around that long.
My brother Jerry, who’s nearly 10 years my senior, has said more than once that since our mom lived to the age of 88, our hereditary chances of having relatively long lives are pretty good. Never mind the fact that our dad died at 60 and that, unlike me, our mom doesn’t smoke cigars or drink vodka. Now, Jerry—a retired gym teacher and baseball coach in Texas, who was a long-distance runner in his youth—neither smokes nor drinks, either; so his odds are pretty favorable that I’ll finally beat him in a race. Unfortunately, one to the finish. But that’s all right. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of available ways to light cigars where I’m likely headed.
Back to bachelorhood. Osborn and I used to live in a 4,800 square-foot home. For the past three years, we’ve co-habited in a 1,400 square-foot loft about five miles away. I think he likes our current digs better because at his age (171/2), he seems to appreciate that we’re always in each other’s immediate vicinity. At the previous place, which had four floors, he had more places to hide (one of his favorite games) but it was less likely I’d go looking for him because I knew he was somewhere in the building— and I knew that other than having a laundry chute that ran the height of the home, there weren’t too many opportunities for him to get into serious mischief.
By the way, if the SPCA is monitoring this column, I installed a baby-proof lock on each floor’s entry to the chute. If you think that was excessive caution on my part, please be advised that Osborn can open the sliding back door of my condo to get in and out. Sure, you’re thinking, easy-peasy. Maybe. But in that previous home, the one with the laundry chute, he was also able to open non-sliding French doors.
Now, about those two crushes he’s had on women I was dating: Both sincerely adored him but one, it turned out, was probably not a good idea for me to continue seeing. Yet he loved them both equally. So, to indulge for a moment in antiquated, politically incorrect parlance, Osborn may, in fact, be a babe magnet; but he’s not what I’d call a babe-ometer.
And even his magnetism is hit and miss. One woman I dated was allergic to him, which ruled out her giving him a cute nickname and rubbing faces with him.
Another, who didn’t like pets at all, deliberately called him “Osgood” in the vain hope he’d be offended—just as you and I might be if our date repeatedly misidentified us (especially if this included calling us by the name of someone she or he used to date or, worse yet, had recently divorced).
*Scratch board/clay edging portrait of Osborn by Brittany Olander (from a photo by Osborn’s roommate).