Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Libertarians in Public

On occasion I will run into other libertarians in public.  It's awkward.

You'd think for a libertarian it would be exciting to meet someone who shares the same worldview as you and you'd greet each other with a warm handshake...but you'd be wrong.   The fact is that most libertarians I meet don't share the same worldview I do.  I'm also not real big into much of the subculture.  I don't believe in foolish conspiracy theories and I'm not an activist.  For me it boils down to working hard and honestly, giving generously, and where still legal (and sometimes illegal) to do so, I pay my own way.  I can do more and do less and people on all sides of an issue can criticize me but it doesn't bother me.  I try to make a real difference where I can and I make sure the only person I want to control is myself.

For awhile I had a Gary Johnson bumper sticker on my car that would identify me as a libertarian.  It wasn't exactly Gaydar for freedom lovers, it was subtle.  It caused most of my meetings with other libertarians to occur while stopped at stop lights on our favorite government roads.

The interaction would start with a honk or just simply yelling out the window.  Startled, I'd turn down my stereo and roll down the window to hear a jumble of key points which tipped off why the person was yelling at me.  It would go something like:

"Hey, [indistinguishable]   the government [indistinguishable] are you kidding me? [traffic noise] That's bullshit and another thing [more background noise] none of their damned business!"

Twenty years of playing electric guitar and concerts without proper hearing protection have drowned out most of what is being said but I get the general idea.  I'm not even sure I agree with much of it completely but I'm in no position to touch on nuances.  I return a thumbs up and they wave back.  I roll up my window and continue on my way.

I live in the Seattle area and most of my friends are progressives.  Political affiliation does not impact my friendships and I hope sincerely they never will.  During any political discussion they often look at me like I am speaking a different language.  Even after years they're always quick to ask me "But then who would build the roads?"  I'm always nice and pretend that I've not considered that before and that it's not just a punchline to jokes told by other libertarians.  Maybe they should ask instead, "Then how would you ever meet other libertarians?"

I would have to admit, they would have a good point.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

RIP Mr. Cat - An odd cat story

Mr. Cat (Cat Too) came to live with us while my mom was in the hospital and then became a permanent member of the family after she passed away.

The story of this cat is a bit odd and worth telling.

My mom had a cat for several years who was her best companion.  My mom owned one cat but only fell just short of being a crazy cat lady.  She was crazy for THIS cat.  His name was Mr. Cat.  In 2004 my mom was so disgusted with the lack of choices in the presidential race that she began a campaign for people to write in her cat.  Buttons and bumper stickers followed and before long several people in her neck of the woods were throwing their votes away on a large orange tabby cat.  I remember the conversation I had while joking with my mom:

Me:  I suppose he wouldn't do that well in the debates.

Mom:  What makes you say that?

Me:  He'd be asked about the war in Iraq and he'd just lick his butt.

Mom:  How is that any different than watching Kerry or Bush?

Bumper sticker from failed 2004 Mr. Cat for President campaign
That cat, that mom loved so much, got sick and died.  She was heartbroken.  Stack and stacks of notes and cards from people piled up on the table by her chair demonstrating how many people knew how much that cat meant to an old handicapped woman who lived by herself.

My brother was so concerned and rushed my mom to consider getting a new cat.  She didn't want one but my brother insisted.  I thought it was too soon but my mom went along with it and the next weekend they went together to a cat adoption place and my mom couldn't believe her eyes.  She saw Mr. Cat.  She took him home.

She called me that night and told me that she brought a cat home.  I thought my brother may have over-encouraged her to get one but she went on and on about how I would not believe that this new cat was exactly like the cat she loved so much.  I was skeptical and a bit worried that she was grieving so much that she was actually delusional.

A happy and healthy Cat Too taken last Fall

I went over to her house to mow the lawn and do other various household chores and of course to see this cat.  See was right; I was stunned.  He was the same size, body type and weight of her other cat.  He was large and had a big nose like her old cat.

"What are you going to name him?"  I asked.

"Mr. Cat 2" was her response.

"Oh that's original, just put a number two after him.  That's a lot to live up to"  I responded.

"No, Cat Too" she said as if I was stupid.

"Okay, whatever."

My mom always knew that the two cats were not the same cat but sometimes the reality of it blurred.  It wasn't long before she just called him "Mr. Cat" and the sadness of losing her first cat disappeared.  In other words my brother's dumb plan worked.

Cat Too with Skull and Cross Bone name tag.  Chairman Meow in the background.
Two months ago Cat Too got sick.  He battled some sort of cancer that had begun a tumor on his liver.  My brother and my older son didn't want him to be sick because they feared losing a connection to my mom all over again.  I spent all night with Cat Too two nights ago as he had difficulty moving and had stopped eating.  I didn't want him to suffer any longer so a family meeting was called.

Being a parent in these situations is so hard.  You can take care of it so many ways and not be wrong.  I wanted both my sons to have a full understanding of what was going on.  They both agreed they didn't want him to suffer anymore either.  As my 8 year old son said "We have no good choices.  We can only try to make right ones."

I've been criticized before in these situations. My older son was only 3 when our first cat, Chesty died and he wanted to help me bury him.  "How could you?" and "I can't believe you did that" was a common response to how it was handled.  My son still remembers that day and cherishes it as a dutiful and loving gesture to a pet.  History will judge me for how I handled it...but if things turn out well I'm going to shove it back in history's face.

My two sons placed a wreath on Cat  Too's grave
We held a funeral for Mr. Cat as he was buried in our side yard just a few feet from Chesty.  We all cried.  We suffered real loss this weekend.  More than just a cat but another connection to my mom who meant so much to all of us.  Thank you Cat Too for bringing my mom so much happiness when she needed it most.