Mar 9, 2020

Why Does My Cat Think I’m Doctor Who—and Am I?

A Shut Door Causes a Daily Dilemma

By Ed Goldman
My cat thinks I’m Doctor Who.

You probably know who Who is. He’s that extraterrestrial do-gooder who’s been played by at least a dozen actors in the staggering 57 years since the show first began airing on British tellies. The doctor is a universe-hopping Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, if you’re following along on your inter-galactic Thomas Brothers atlas. 

Doctor Who’s preferred mode of time-travel is his TARDIS. Though that sounds like a good name for a Lexus model or a kids rock band that always arrives late for concerts, TARDIS actually stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. From the outside it looks like a British police box (phone booth) but on the inside is, incongruously—as though anything I’ve written so far smacks even slightly of the congruous—a multiple-story home/office/laboratory, the kind of place a real estate agent would say has “soaring ceilings and is ideal both for entertaining and destroying rogue worlds at just the click of a remote. Welcome to your new home!”

Okay, back to the Department of Earth.

Every time I walk into my first-floor bathroom and shut the door, Osborn the Magnificent, my 17.75-year-old tabby, runs over and begins to issue a series of yowls. They were movingly plaintive the first two dozen times or so but I finally came to realize he was just being melodramatic.

In the old days, my little geezer might have mistaken me for suit-clad Clark Kent, who also used to slip into phone booths but would emerge as Superman, now wearing tights, his underpants on the outside, a cape and cunning boots. I think Osborn would have known it was me, regardless of which ensemble I sported. 

“That you, Who?” Photo by Ed Goldman.

But Doctor Who doesn’t just slip into his TARDIS and change outfits. He’ll leave and travel centuries away, which I think is what Osborn fears I’ll do each time I close the door on him.

I should explain why I close the bathroom door. 

Even though Osborn and I are the only regular occupants of my home, which should obviate the need to shut the bathroom door and cause him distress, there’s a reason I do so. You see, I usually throw open the shutters in my living room first thing in the morning—and because my living room faces a public walkway and major thoroughfare to the east, someone walking or driving by could easily peer into my bathroom when the door’s open. Now, I’m not especially shy but I do draw the line at personal exhibitionism—and, sure, what I imagine would be the sound of distant laughter.

How distant? Lightyears away.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).