Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sherlock proves the truth of biorhythm

Maybe it was during the early eighties that I and many others were briefly interested in the phenomenon of biorhythm. I seem to recall making a graph that charted my physical energy, mental alertness, mood, and maybe the phases of the moon. I was gratified to see that when I bottomed out it was because all these things had bottomed out at once; not my fault, then.

As a culture we don't pay enough attention to influences other than our individual Will, whom I see as a sort of not-too-bright fellow with untidy hair. But all things have their rhythms. I need look no further than Sherlock the cat at 2:00 in the afternoon, when he will almost always be found in the posture shown in the photograph.

Once night falls, Sherlock can perform on command as well as any human performing artist I know. In fact, he commands the performance, and will run to the accustomed spot on the living room rug, motivated by nothing but his own inner Will. The sequence of actions is not nothing. In fact, it is pretty spectacular for a cat. Whole cat circuses have been built on little more.

It begins with Roll Over and roll back (one Dentabite cat treat). Then there is Round and Round (my ankles). Then a major stretch for Big Tall Cat, and at last the one that visitors always think is kind of wierd: Sherlock, Go to the library and pick out a book. In this unique trick, Sherlock walks smartly over to the basket we keep our library books in and retrieves a treat placed on the lid.

Four treats then, a pretty good payday and one he likes to bring off several times a day. But he just can't.

He tries. After all, we are up, and he doesn't want to miss an opportunity. So after I get up from lunch, he runs to his place on the carpet, lies down, and emits either the silent miaow, or the almost inaudible mawr that is his signature speech. I am always willing to believe him, so I rub his spine and start saying in a stupid voice, like you do when you talk to animals, "Then roll over."

He blinks. Rubs his nose. At last, frowning, he rolls over in a tentative way. Looks at me. I prompt him, I'm such a softy. Maybe he rolls back. I give him a treat and, ever hopeful, step back and make the motion for Round-and-round. And he just can't get figure it out. The best he can do is roll over again and look up at me hopefully. So I give him a treat. After all, to him it is the middle of the night. I doubt that I could do much better at 2:00 a.m. myself.

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