Neville [Full name along the lines of Neville Longbottom Quigley Hamilton-Ward] is the matriarch of the family – self appointed and earned by longevity. She is the one who sets the rules, establishes the standards, lets me know when she has waited long enough for a meal. She’s sleek and black and sheds hard black needles that I once had to have an Apple technician vacuum out from under my laptop keyboard. She also hisses, loudly, whenever anything does not meet her expectations. Her origination story and the seeming peculiarity of her name are told here, and may explain the hissing.
Eleanor [Full name something like Eleanor Rigby Hamilton Quigley Ward] is seldom called Eleanor; she prefers the diminutive of Ellie. In fact, she, too, is something of a diminutive. Where Neville is long and sleek, Ellie is shorter and a bit stockier (I’ve been told not to mention that), with a multicolored coat that feels like satin, and which she cleans with a vengeance. (She gets some help keeping herself presentable from daily applications of this brilliant gadget.) She has devised safe routes throughout the condo – both floors – that she uses to avoid Neville (on her way to and from meals, for example), as well as my father, when she is feeling antisocial.
Together, these two semi-domesticated cats (Neville is the panther, Ellie is the bobcat) form a team on which nobody gets along, nobody works together, everybody is wary of one another.
But for the eventual voyage the three of us plan – crisscrossing New England, and then the continental U.S, along with Canada and Mexico – we will thrive because we will all have our own spaces, as well as our shared space. Each of us will get his or her own bed, appropriate for our personalities; each of us will get a dedicated dining area, and each will be served in the order that delivers peace.
Living in this condo is practice for this delicate choreographed maneuvering through North America. By the time the RV arrives – whether it is next month from Tampa or in 5 years from Chula Vista – we will have practiced our routines so often that they will be ingrained, easily sustained.
As for the actual driving each cat will do, I will note that in some recent short car treks, everyone adopted a role: Ellie was the quiet observer; Neville was the yowler; I was the singer and cajoler of storm cats. I imagine our first outing in the RV (which I hope will include my parents, and which I hope will be another short voyage – for everyone’s sake) will go swimmingly well.
After all, we all know what is expected of us – we all know what to do (darlin’, in our fashion). Yes, we all know how to drive (darlin’, in our way).