Jul 17, 2020

My Boss Turned 18 on Bastille Day

Living with Osborn the Magnificent can be like a sitcom

By Ed Goldman

If you claim to be your own boss, I respectfully submit that you don’t have a cat. Mine, Osborn the Magnificent, turned a staggering 18 years old on Bastille Day, a little more than 72 hours ago. 

While he’s been with me since 2007, in 2012 I gained full custody rights in a divorce (to clarify: my own). Ever since then, we’ve been our own bachelor-roommates sitcom, complete with pesky neighbor. This neighbor, who always tried peering into my yard as she walked by, heard Osborn and me arguing about his coming inside to have his dinner late one afternoon. I called him, told him it was time to eat and he meowed something back that sounded awfully close to the inquiry “Now?” So I replied, in recognizable English, “Yes, now.” He meowed a response to that as he slowly walked to the back door and I said snarkily, “I have your absolute favorite tonight,” to which Osborn meowed something sarcastic, if that can be done. It was all too much for the neighbor. 

She looked over the fence and said, “Are you actually talking to your cat?”

I said, “Well, I think it’d be rude not to answer his questions.”

That neighbor has never walked by my yard again. 

After Osborn lived solely with me for a few months, I began to cede all of the policymaking responsibility to him, making him chief executive officer of the corporation I had laughingly referred to until then as my life. However, since my name’s the one on the mortgage and on all of the bills that arrive here—and, more tellingly, since I’m the one who has the opposable thumbs and debatably better penmanship—Osborn graciously allowed me to stay on both as chief operating officer and chief financial officer. I thought about also giving myself the title of chief technology officer but one night we mutually decided that since neither of us is gifted in this field, we’d farm out that work. 

You see, on that particular night, when I was out to dinner with another human or two, Osborn had apparently jumped from my desk chair onto my keyboard after availing himself of the litter box in my office, and slept there for a couple of hours. 

The boss at 18

When I got home and went to log in, the “m” key no longer worked and pretty soon, none of the other letters did, either. The next morning, I took my computer into Core Care, an authorized Apple repair shop I’ve been using for more than a decade, and the first thing Casey, the owner, asked was, “What’s with all the hair and sand under the keys?” This is how I deduced Osborn had used the box then jumped up and gone night-night on the keyboard. I remain thankful that all we found were sand and hair.

As an aside, if you think this is far-fetched detective work on my part, let me share a brief anecdote. A friend I hadn’t seen in some time came up to me at a reception and praised a particular item in the monthly column I wrote for Sacramento Magazine for 10 years. I asked if he hadn’t been well and his eyes opened wide, “How’d you know?” and volunteered that he’d recently undergone major surgery. I told him it was because the item he’d cited had appeared nine months earlier—meaning, since he thought it was a current item, he’d read it in one of the out-of-date magazines in the waiting rooms of doctors and dentists. (Post-pandemic, of course, if you want to read while waiting to be called for your appointment, you have to bring your own materials.)

Most of us who have pets tend to anthropomorphize them—posting photos of them on Facebook doing nothing noteworthy, and sometimes pretending to speak in “their” voices. I’d find this beneath nauseating if I didn’t so several times a week when I text MBK (my beloved Kim) in Long Beach.

You may recall from my column of February 14, “Valentines Stay”—which resulted in my receiving our biggest reader response to date—that Kim and I went “steady” from 1966-1969 and started doing so again in 2019. Anyway, Kim was an elementary-school teacher for more than 30 years.  She’s always had a childlike though far from childish disposition toward (and tolerance of) silliness. So she always responds immediately to “Osborn’s” posts, which are usually accompanied by a photo I’ve just taken of him in which it appears possible he’s actually saying the words I put in as captions. I’ll admit you probably need to squint hard and shave a few decades off your chronological standing to buy this—or just start drinking earlier in the day.

Osborn wins the girl

When Kim visits, Osborn abandons all the rules of bachelor-roommate-dom and takes every opportunity he can to wriggle his way between us, jump into conversations that really don’t concern him and wriggle onto her lap before I can get her on mine. I’d think of him, the way some people speak of their pets, as a “babe magnet” except that the term means the pet will attract people to you, not to himself. The ultimate abashment came after Kim’s most recent visit and we were chatting on speaker phone one evening. Osborn heard her voice and bounded upstairs to see if she were in the bed poised to caress him to slumber. When I told her what had just happened, Kim invited him to come back downstairs, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t, hitting the ground floor so quickly he skidded into the back of the sofa.

I thought he’d be crestfallen not to find Kim there in the flesh. Instead, he looked around for a moment or two, then climbed onto a pillow on the sofa they’d snuggled on and conked out. It was just what you might expect from an exhausted chief executive officer—and teenager in love.

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).