Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
By the time Elaine had accepted Tundra, April and I had assumed that Tundra had finished growing and maturing. Elaine and Tundra were about the same size, but Tundra was more muscular. One day April was brushing Tundra with the special cat brush when she noticed something unusual about Tundra. Tundra’s tail was up as she enjoyed the feel of the brush on her fur, and April saw something protruding from beneath Tundra’s tail. On closer inspection April discovered that Tundra had fur-covered testicles. After all these months masquerading as a girl, Tundra’s testicles had finally appeared, and his true gender was revealed. April marveled at Tundra’s new appendages, and Tundra seemed comforted that his masculinity was finally being recognized.
Tundra never got to truly enjoy his new testicles, however. Within the week, April took him to the veterinarian’s in PB and had him neutered. Tundra seemed bitter after the operation, but only for a week or so. After that his rocks were just a distant memory.
About this time our neighbors to the east of us were preparing to move. I couldn’t have been happier. Hank, a pair of pit bulls, and two roommates who appeared to rotate on a monthly basis with an endless throng of long-haired clones rented the small white house next door. Loud music, big parties, people urinating on our fence, and fights were as common as the morning marine layer along the coastline. Then one morning as I sat on a lawn chair in our yard drinking a cup of instant coffee, I realized Hank and his crew were gone. They had, as was not their custom, all quietly left the previous night, leaving nothing behind to hint that they had ever been there but two trashcans in the alley filled with spoiled food and empty beer bottles.
With our neighbors gone, April and I enjoyed the peace of the empty house next door. One month later our new neighbors arrived, and a fresh, not to mention profoundly different, chapter in Tundra’s life was about to begin.
A few days after they moved in, April and I introduced ourselves to the new neighbors. They were Josie and Ron, also a young unmarried couple, and their cat, Mushroom. Josie was friendly and approachable. Ron was stoically polite to us; he continued to be polite to April, but after that first day he never really spoke to me again. If I ever happened to corner him and force him into some small talk, he would always respond with indirect eye contact, nods at inappropriate moments, and a series of grunts. It took awhile, but I got the hint; after a few months I stopped trying to bond with him. But I still spoke to Josie every chance I got; I had a feeling that this bothered him. Mushroom also gave us a good first impression. He rubbed his sides against April’s shins and meowed politely. Mushroom was a big gray cat with gold eyes. Mushroom was also a polydactyl cat, meaning he had six toes on each one of his feet. April and I predicted that Tundra, Elaine, and Mushroom would soon all be great friends.