Here are some assorted written works by Paul Gordon
All are original and the author has exclusive ownership of them in full
Any inquiries for use can be sent via email or any other way you wish to get in touch with Paul.
The Himmy story
I didn’t ask for it but it he kicked in with it and I’ll never forget it. That’s why I’m scrambling to write it down because he said so many mouthfuls so quickly with such an intertwining. God love him for not editing himself. And I can still see him cuz he just left… he’s stopping now. He’s scratchin his butt, now he’s goin. Off to wherever. I hope I get this right enough and in the order he delivered it. If you see glitches, you know where to find me cuz I’m always on the same stool from about 1-3, so here’s what just happened:
Sitting in The Royal nursing my beer and a shot on the rail with the other cronies the way I always do, the older fella next to me who’d I’d never seen here before starts up without warning and without even acknowledging I was listening.
“The other day my wife and I drove to Owego to our vet. Our 16-year old Himalayan, known as Himmy, is in the final stages of renal failure. That’s kidneys. Back in September 2010, our vet gave the Himmy a few weeks and he’s still doin. We give him subcutaneous fluids three times daily now. His kidneys no longer filter so he pees out nutrients his body could use. The SubQ fluids are good for him. They provide some of what his system no longer gets with the kidneys he has left. He’s very small now. Old and shriveled. Always been small but just didn’t look it, because if you know anything about himmys, they have shitloads of hair… the ones people call a hairball on first sight, so anyways, that’s a himmy and ours was no different with the hairy furball thing goin on. He looked almost reg’lar size next to any other. But now even with the full himmy hairball look, he’s thin and boney and to pick him up, he’s lighter than you’d imagine because his size belies… well, his actual weight, ya know?
But we’re not keeping him alive just to keep him alive. He is still sprightly at times and uses the box in the basement and purrs a lot. Another good sign is that he still hates being poked with a needle for the fluids. The fluid bag hangs off a hook inside the squeaky closet door and drips its contents through a flexible tube and gets to our little guy through the needle we stick under his skin at the nape of his neck. Once in there they slowly get absorbed, but for a while after he quasimodos around a little off balance.
Doing his best imitation of the Young Frankenstein routine between the Doctor Frahnkenschteen character and his assistant Eye-gor:
(He takes a long pull on his beer which cues me to do the same. Then he continues.)
“The closet door hinge creaks in its unique way and when I open it he looks over, knowing that in his world the noise precedes my picking him up and sticking him with said needle. His day isn’t complicated. He’s a domestic cat with everything taken care of. His day is broken down into what he expects that we provide and the few other normal items he likes to do and needs to do. Everything else is an intrusion, right? Fights over small petty crap seem a very bg deal to a guy like Himmy. Hat’s why something like sticking him with a needle is such a big deal. I suppose it’s just like any small kid: the uncomplicated world of 1. Shit I don’t hate, and 2. Everything else. So, I open that creaky door; he hears the noise; and even if he was just sleeping, the race is on for me to nab him before he makes it behind the couch. It’s reverse Pavlovian response:
Bell rings = dog drools for imminent treats
door creaks = himmy bolts from imminent prick
Which reminds me of when I first started living with my wife, back when she was my girlfriend: I had a large loft apartment downtown. I made a big step then, letting the apartment become populated with non-humans. The Himmy showed up as an “Almost Kitten”. He was very small, and I woulda thought he was cute had I not met him the first time at her pad when he had a disgusting bout of diarrhea with her cleaning up after him and he trying to clean himself in a gross and futile attempt to maintain even a shred of dignity. That little cat’s fur was too long and the long runny turd streaks were all down his butt fur with him trying to clean himself, she cleaning spots on the rugs and the blatant smell that your nose got used to after being in that place for ten to fifteen minutes, then you kinda knew you were breathing shit, but it no longer mattered. Oh, the things we do for sex! Anyways, that’s how I first met the critter who eventually won me over with his funny little ways, his bizarre looks and his delightful insistence on having it all the way he wants it.
I hadn’t been a pet owner in decades. None during college. after which I travelled for a living you see, so again, none. I hadn’t had animals since I was young and at my parents and you might say my pet ownership skills were rusty at best.
I wasn’t completely clueless, just rusty. There’s a difference, ya know. Clueless is different: Take one of my best friends, Dave, for example: far closer to clueless, although he’s a great pet owner in his way and loves em all. He had a delightful big dog, Zeitgeist. The word zeitgeist means Spirit of the Times in German and Zeit, the dog was that wherever he was. Barely trained and never having had his balls chopped off, he lolled, loped, and drooled in equal amounts around his domain. He loved to play fetch on the beach when they lived in a hippy community south of San Diego. They had a dog beach there and Zeit, if not monitored, would play fetch with almost anything: balls (his and other dogs’), sticks (his and other dogs’), turds (again, his and others’), and small dogs (usually against their will, but Zeit was a formidable beast - not having been liberated of some extra testosterone neutering offers, he was a tough case... explaining to him that NO you can’t keep it and YES relax the jaw NOW please!
After a solid stint of fetch, I’d say to Dave, “How’d he do that?” pointing to a giant clump of spitty frothy drool far on his lower back... to which Dave would nonchalantly smile and say “who knows?! He flings drool like a pro.
(another pause for another pull…)
“Dave is laissez faire with his animals. I recall arriving in town and we went out for beers and food and upon our return to his place, we discovered the remains of a book on the floor. Some soft cover from a low shelf. Zeit and Dave’s cats napping contently. Dave picked up the shredded drooly pulp mess, went over to Zeit (having ruled out the cats immediately, perhaps confounding Zeit that he might be the only suspect: “Wait, it was them!” and after the fact, “he’s good… how’d he figure it was me?!?!”) and woke him from his chompy dreams with a few resounding whacks on the head and a loud, “I’ve told you before: do not eat the Camus in the kitchen.”
Then we sat down to beers and his favorite one-hitter and, In between bong hits I’d bring up what I saw.
“You know Zeit doesn’t connect your scolding him now with his having eaten a book hours before.”
“Dave, man, I’m not sure he understood how you said any of that either.”
“He’s gotta learn sometime.”
“Yeah, but I don’t think complex grammatical structure is the way.”
“Ah, whadaya gonna do... can’t say I didn’t try.”
Another bong hit and a pause as I weighed the plusses and minuses of continuing the debate over how a dog might best learn complicated concepts like not eating the Camus in the kitchen versus Don’t Eat My Books. “Oh, so I CAN eat the Camus but NOT in the kitchen?” I remember deciding it wasn’t worth it, so I chuckled at the thorough chompifying Zeit had delivered while we were out and what it must have looked like to a fly on the wall.
“He turned that into bookmush.”
“Drools like a pro.”
See? That’s Clueless. Loving, but clueless. Dave lets his animals live on their terms. He’s a doctor, so maybe it has something to do with what’s an emergency: if it ain’t life n death, it really isn’t worth getting pissed off about. Come to think of it, Dave doesn’t really get too flustered about most things. Maybe that’s why he’s good at that kinda job. Good at priorities like those and not easily ruffled feathers, ya know?
But when I referred to my own behavior as rusty I think I wasn’t talking that far off… here’s the situation, you decide:
My girlfriend moved in and she and I were in the bedroom doing things couples sometimes do in a bedroom together.... when the Himmy goes over to one of my stereo speakers, raises up on his hind legs and starts digging it with his claws. Even if I wasn’t an audiophile, clawing speakers is a Bozo-No-No. But I am... or was, and those ones were powerful, fancy and relatively new and the only thing they’d gotten on them prior to the Himmy’s claws was a bit of dust.
I admit it, I reacted all unthinking-like. I got up, interrupting matters at hand in the bedroom and yelled “Him-my!”
The Himmy took off.
I believe animals understand rules in animal ways, not human ways and I was about to try to insert my human rules into his animal ones, rather than letting him off with a shushing because he won’t learn shit from a shushing. I wasn’t about to confuse him by using Dave’s method. I like to talk to animals on their terms and although I’m not sure I am, I think of it as being as close to being specific as I can, kinda like my version of growling, only even more. The trick is catching it when it happens because they don’t really remember or care about it after the fact, so this one was right there in front of me and I could only make it a Thing Not To Do right there and then.
I found where he’d run to and stormed over there yelling again, “Him-my!”, which gets followed by a loud clap of my hands.
He bolts elsewhere diving for cover. I follow.
Him-my! (loud hand clap)
Him-my! (loud hand clap)
Nowhere was safe. If he got behind the couch, I pulled it out before giving him my loudness.
Meanwhile the view from the bedroom shows me occasionally in view crossing the room, chasing the cat and clapping loudly... naked... with a hard-on.
(Almost turning to me, he adds this for anyone who might’ve started listening when he yelled Him-my and clapped.)
‘Sorry for the image, but it’s the truth.’
“When I finished and returned to my girlfriend... winded, she took a moment before saying something like, “You weren’t gonna catch him, cuz I’m sure he didn’t wanna find out what you planned to do to him with THAT”, pointing to my lap.
Maybe he thought, “Damn, he catches me clawing the speaker and I’m fucked, for real.”
I could imagine my pal Dave would say, “Who? Him? He fucks cats like a pro.”
I wish I could tell you my pet skills are perfect now but sometimes I still react.
But that was back then.
And now the Himmy is dying.
He’s lived 6 months beyond the 2-week prognosis last fall.
I know when he stops hating the fluids - when he just lets us jab him without putting up a fight - it’ll be time to do the nearly impossible thing... the brutal and essential gesture of love all responsible pet owners must consider doing. I feel that we love them in life and so, too must try to help them lovingly into death.
So, we pull up and there in front of the place is a close friend. At first we just see someone, but then we it’s Ben and then we see it’s Ben cradling a cat in his arms and pacing back and forth.
And we know what’s happening. We know because it is so specific and there’s only one thing that looks like that… that heartbreaking world of Here are my last moments with just you and me before the doctors and the animal hospital smells and sounds and I’m not in control of any of this anymore and it all will start to be memories. That time where We have had so much for these days, months years. It is such a tiny world he has right there and then… such focus and it also seems so huge with nothing else really mattering worth a rats ass. No other sounds and only wanting to have eye contact with your little fella for the last precious moments you wish could last forever.
(again he looks up and says to anyone listening but to none of us in particular…)
“I know some don’t care about animals and go ahead and laugh, but if you care for anyone or anything, you’ll have to say goodbye someday and you’re gonna hate it.”
And we get out of the car and call to our friend, who sees us and gasps, “Oh, Jesus, not you two.” not because of anger, disappointment or panic, but shock to his system because he is so deeply inside these impossible moments with his precious, old, feeble friend in his arms. Our pal Ben is young enough that this may be the first time he’s having to say goodbye to a furry friend like this. I didn’t pry. I just imagine that he may have had this cat since he was quite young himself.
He’s crying and saying over and over “It’s so unreal.”
And we both walk over. And we hug him. And my gal, out of respect for his sense of this time - these last moments - doesn’t cry in spite of herself. But not having considered things in this way, I do cry. And I tell him a few things as we rock and cry...
reminders of how very hard this is, hard but essential. A way to show a beloved friend how deeply you love... that you are there to help when it’s harder than hard... that you are making this call so he doesn’t have to suffer pain that will only get worse... that it’s brutal... and loving.
And this makes me think about Time. We only have so much. And I don’t want to waste mine.
I have made some very bizarre choices in life and screwed up a lot...
I see recently that it is really more important than I’ve given credit before that I stop punishing myself with guilt and remorse and the self-flagellation we Jews are very good at.
You got anything for me Dave? “Tortures himself like a pro.”
(He takes another swig and chuckles and chokes a bit.)
“Down the wrong tube.”, he coughs.
“But how can you love others if you can’t love yourself? Like airbags on a plane, ya know: gotta put mine on first or I’m not gonna be of any help to anyone else for very long. I’ve allowed certain people’s behavior to get under my skin. And they do things I do not like. I know... who am I to judge? I’ve done many things I’m not proud of.
But I’ve decided I don’t have to waste my valuable time on them... to not ponder them at all. And my frustrations and issues with them get sucked into the black hole along with that person, too.
And they can become non-issues from non-people. Poof.
If it’s less than a saint’s way, so be it. I an’t gonna let ‘em claw my fuckin’ speakers. Any of ‘em.
(He looks up this time talking to the world of speaker-clawers ready to test him.)
“Claw my speakers and you’ll see what the Himmy was glad he never had to. Ya drippy-nosed mokes. Keep yr mitts off. My damn speakers. Mine. Go claw yr own.
God Bless my little Himmy. I love him and all the other furry ones.”
There was an extended pause. I clinked his glass with mine and he didn’t look over, but raised his highball toward that spot halfway up the wall in front if him and downed the rest, returned the empty to the coaster and raised the same hand to his eye, wiping away what I assumed was a tear.
He got off his stool, reached into his pocket, set a double sawbuck atop his empty glass and headed for the john. When he returned he seemed to see none of us, and walked straight past and out the door.
I watched him through the front window walking up Main Street, processing his tale, until I set aside my drink and asked Sam, whose place it is, for a pen and some paper.
He’s gone now. When I started writing I could still see him down past Warwick’s Bridal Shop, crossing over the other side of Main. At some point he must’ve turned off Main or just horizoned out of view. Bound to happen, but I hope I did his story proud. None of the others here at Sam’s joint were gonna. I guess that’s why they gave me my nickname: The Professor.
I swear to god, that how he told it and you only got to hear this crazy thing delivered with his wild style if you were there at that very moment. Two minutes later and you would’ve missed it. All you’d have is my version, which I’ll admit has all the structure, but none of his flair. But that’s the way it goes. Didn’t Yogi Berra say, Ninety percent of life is just showin’ up.
And if you need to set me straight about this story or something on your mind, remember: I’ll be at The Royal most afternoons. I’ll try to do you justice if Sam still can find me a pen and some paper.