Rico Tubbs was my "Big Buddy". He had to be "put to sleep" yesterday. "Put to sleep": the king of all euphemisms. He's not alseep. He's dead. I don't feel like typing up volumes of medical jargon this morning, so suffice to say that it was his time and it was the right thing to do. Proffessional cousnel concurs. Let us now mourn his death by celebrating his life, shall we? Here we go....
When the movers were packing up our apartment in Salt Lake City in September of 1998, Adrienne & I went to a neighbor across the hall to give away some perishable food items we would not be taking with us. This neighbor had a large orange cat named "Sebastian". Apparently, her purse dog did not care for Sebastian, and harassed Sebastian incessantly, which greatly diminished Sebatian's quality of life. She asked us if we would like to take Sebastian on our journey, and without too much though or discussion, we said "sure... what the hell". He's big and fat.. fat like "tubby"... Tubby.... like Rico Tubbs (Don Johnson's malado partner on Miami Vice). Sebastian became Rico Tubbs.... which quickly streamlined itself into "Rico".
Rico's first experience with his new family - Me, Adrienne and "Bootsy" our other Siamese cat (R.I.P.) - was being sedated and placed in the back of a pickup truck for a cross-country drive. Since then he has lived with us at Lise & Greg's house in Lewiston, our apartment in Yarmouth, the house we had built in Harpswell, and the current 33 Pleasant Street in Bath. Just over nine years of quality pet comraderie. For those of you who knew Rico, you know he was the atypical fat, lazy cat, but always quick to jump up on your lap and nudge you to pet him. He particularly enjoyed having his ears rubbed, which would induce loud purring, sometimes accompanied by slight drooling. We found ourselves often saying to house guests "... that's Rico, just push him off your lap if he's bothering you."
Rico loved BOXES. He loved to jump into any open box, guitar case or cooler.. whatever was available. Even if it didn't quite fit his girthy frame. I would occaisionally make him his own dedicated box with a folded up blanket in the bottom. He would use it for a week or so, then be done with it.
Rico loved SHOES. Any shoes left lying around, preferrably multiple pairs in a pile, would be laid on and slept on.
Rico loved the SUN. He was really good at finding sunny spots to lay in, and would often lay on his back in them, as if tanning at the beach.
Rico loved CHRISTMAS. Well, OK, he probably didn't know what Christmas was, but there were usually more open boxes lying around during Christmas, and he liked to hang out under the tree.
Rico would wait patiently outside the shower while someone was using it, so he could go in afterward and lick the water off the sides of the tub.
Here's a magic trick: If you can't find Rico anywhere in the house, open a can of tuna, close your eyes and count to ten. When you open your eyes, he will have magically appeared at your feet. Probably meowing.
Rico had mad hunting skills. I never actually watched him hunt, but I know he was slow, fat, and had no front claws, but somehow managed to bring home dead mice on occaision.
Rico got summer haircuts, to help reduce shedding-related house cleanings. I don't think these haircuts really did much for his self-esteem.
Perhaps some of you out there may be thinking to yourselves "jeez... it's just a friggin' cat. What's the big deal?". Well, here's an example: when Adrienne and I went through our separation and subsequent divorce, I lived alone... except for Rico. He was my friend every day, on my lap, on my bed, waiting outside the shower, even on days when I did not reciprocate his friendship. He was very special to me, and one of his many nicknames was "my big buddy". I will miss you, big buddy, and thank you for years of high-quality pet comradery.
Special shout-out to my good friend Diane who selflessly took Rico - medical woes and all - into her home during my trip. She loved him and provided him with the best possible medical care in my absence. She fed him his last meal of tuna and beef, and was with him during his last few minutes, so he went out feeling loved. I even got to say goodbye to him via cel phone. Diane says he heard my voice and nugded the phone. Right back at ya, big buddy. Tell Bootsy that Adrienne and I say hello.