Why can’t I eat in peace?

Why can’t I -- unlike normal non-pet owning people -- enjoy a meal, a snack or even a cursory survey of the refrigerator or pantry without being beset immediately by a large drooling dog and two sniffing, inquisitive cats? Trying to duck, avoid, or outsmart them takes the kind of skills you might see from the winning team on a basketball court or football field. Even as I try to learn the rules of the game, I’m consistently defeated and out maneuvered by the players.

Let’s imagine I am being interviewed by one of the sports writers for The Best Times:

BT: Deborah Camp, thank you for agreeing to this interview. I know it’s gotta sting a little when the game plan you drew up for scoring a mid-day ice cream from the freezer fell short. What went wrong? And tell us about your game going forward.

DC: Well, let me recap the action. The competition for Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia was tougher than Kroger’s Vanilla Salted Pecan, which wasn’t on special last week. So I just went for it, and bought the B & J. That’s on me. Mistake number one.

BT: Looking at your stats from last week, you had an early lead when you managed to disguise the sound of the potato chips package being opened by turning on the washing machine. Good play!

DC: Yeah, I was able to push that one over the goal line. But that’s a rarity.

BT: Don’t be too hard on yourself. I see you had another excellent midweek play.

DC: It was just a lucky curveball. I was getting some yogurt from the fridge when I heard Mojo get up and stretch in the hall. He loves yogurt. So, I turned on the faucet, then walked casually into the dining room, opened and closed a few drawers and pretended to put something away. He fell right back asleep, and not a peep from the cats.

BT: Clever strategy. You might want to perfect that play—even run some similar versions to keepyou ahead of the game. I notice things fell apart later into the week.

DC: Boy, did they! Had several bump-and-runs. By week’s end I had to forfeit half a chicken sandwich, a piece of cheesecake, some peanut butter, a number of Ritz crackers, and some expensive organic yogurt. Again, the yogurt. They all love yogurt.

BT: Sad. Sounds like they’ve been able to up their level of play.

DC: Well, as you know, cats and dogs have a much better sense of sound and smell than we do, so the match-up is uneven from the get-go.

BT: No doubt about it, you gotta change your mindset to get into the lead. It’s a head game. I understand it took you fourteen minutes to ease a calzone from the fridge, unwrap and microwave it for 60 seconds, and then you only ate two bites before the whole team was there. What happened?

DC: It was crazy. I really thought I could pull it off. The cats were in the back bedroom, Moe was sleeping in the hall, and I hadn’t made a single sound until the microwave. That doesn’t usually stir them because Michael often reheats his coffee cup and that sound doesn’t generally attract them. I don’t know what happened.

BT: Let’s talk about meal preparation. This is where you consistently fall short.

DC: You don’t hafta to rub it in! Every night I’m running an end around while they’re coming at me, full-court press. I tried moving up their mealtime an hour earlier but was foiled when they moved the goalposts. Last night I attempted to get the ball rolling by ordering pizza but ended up running a Hail Mary when Moe met the delivery guy at the door. Michael quickly passed the Neapolitan, and I spirited it off to the bedroom. We closed the door on them and ate our first meal without animal attention in ages!

BT: Whew! What a recap. All I gotta say is you got ice water in your veins! You’re not gonna be able to stop ‘em; you can only contain ‘em.

Contact Deborah at deborah.camp@comcast.net for comments or suggestions.

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