“So,” says I to Mr. Hydrox, my second-in-command. “Just what-the-hell do we think we’re doing?”
“Who?” Hydrox explains.
“Us. You. Me. Niaid, Shiva, Tabby. The Great Speckled Bird and the hens. It’s coming on Christmas. Why aren’t we gearing up? Going on buying sprees? Getting into the spirit of things?”
“Hmmm,” Hydrox frowns, scratching behind his ear. “You’re thinking of what? Maybe buying a few miles of lights and stringing them up? Finding some ways of burning up some more kilowatt hours without warming the cabin, pumping water, creating anything, putting food on the table or adding anything necessary to things around here at all?”
I pulls at the suspenders to my insulated coveralls, stalling for time. “Well, yeah. Everyone else does it. Remember when we lived in Placitas and the whole town got drunk and walked around the village singing? Don’t you miss that?”
“I hated it,” Scrooge McHydrox mutters. “So did the other cats. Christmas. Halloween. Easter. But especially Christmas. Kids buzzing around the roads on new motorcycles trying to run one another over. Garbage piled up around the pickup containers. You humans are a mystery to me. Can’t think of enough things to buy and throw away.
“But all the while yapyap yapping about how hard times are. Yap yapping about the cost of just staying alive. You humans don’t even know how to eat a pound of meat that didn’t come in half-pound of plastic.”
This raised my hackles a bit. “We’re smart. We’re on top of things. Every one of those empty cat food cans in that barrel over there are a sign of human progress and intelligence. Someone somewhere dug that ore out of the ground. Someone else smelted it and rolled it down into sheets to make into cans to hold meat someone else grew and killed and butchered so you can have a full belly.
“You eat better than the people who did all that work. You cats eat better than the progeny of the people of the people I buy it from are likely to.”
Hydrox glared at me in a way I like to think of as put-in-his-place. “Yeah. And who’s responsible for all that?”
“Human progress,” I replied proudly. “The religion of I-Got-Mine.”