Ever since I made the decision to write this, the third book about my gray, floppy-eared Scottish Fold pal, Norton, I have been trying to decide exactly how to begin.
That very human, very non-cat-like flaw called over-thinking settled in all too quickly, and, as a result, more and more time passed while I sat, stared into space, and didn't type. This book would, I thought, for many reasons, be somewhat different from the others and there were distinct choices that had to be made. Each choice would clearly alter style, tone and philosophy, if I can be pretentious enough to suggest that the books about my cat actually have a philosophy (and, please, don't worry; believe me, I know enough to understand that I'm writing something much closer to Tuesdays With Norton than I am to Meowing and Nothingness).
My first instinct was to begin like this:
One of the reasons I became a writer is because using words the way I do is as close as I can get to putting some kind of order in this rather crazy world of ours.
I was then going to go on and describe that one of the things in life that drives me most crazy is the way the English language is constantly mangled. As always, this is an area in which we should learn from the feline way of doing things. Cats have a way of speaking that is direct and unmistakably clear. Their words might all be the same but the meanings behind them are just a tad less ambiguous than human-speak. There is no mistaking a meow that means "feed me" for one that means "scratch my stomach." Has anyone who has been owned by a cat for any length of time ever confused an "it's nice sitting by the fire" meow for one that says "let me out" or "sorry, there's no way I'm going to the vet?" The answer's no. Of course, not only is cat body language less inhibited than ours, cats tend to speak in commands, which does make life easier, at least for them. The only question I can come up with that a cat might ask is, "Are you okay?" And, if you're not, the follow-up meow is usually another directive: "Here, shove over so I can snuggle up to you and make you feel better." Cats have definitely gotten the act of communication down to an exact science.
But when humans open their mouths, the screw-ups are endless. The constant mis-use of "I" for "me," for example (hint: If you don't wish for me to publicly humiliate you, never say, "Just between you and I" or "Come with Freddy and I" in my presence). And the addition of the word "very" when describing something "unique." That's the same as saying "very one-of-a-kind" which is linguistically impossible. Then there's the fact that no one seems to know what the word "irony" means. It does not mean funny or snide or coincidental or satirical or anything along those lines. If you don't believe me, here's the definition straight from The Random House Dictionary of the English
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