A typical stretching exercise in my house is “Straddling the Budgie.” Regardless of one’s interest in exercise or not, one often finds that he or she is performing “Straddling the Budgie” on multiple occasions during a day. The major culprit for this exercise is our sixteen-year-old Siamese-mix cat, Budget. He was no doubt the runt of the litter. He is relatively small for a cat, with a single dark brown brow with a white face and tan flanks with white paws. His markings are so attractive and unusual that they serve only to make that other famous uni-brow cat jealous (maybe that’s why that other cat never looks happy).
You’ve already been introduced to one of Budget’s nick-names: “Budgie.” However, that is not the only name that he’s known by. He’s been known as “Silly Boy,” the less-complimentary “Dumb Boy” and “Throw-up Boy,” the last of which hopefully needs no further explanation. My wife reminds me that Budget is actually a diminutive of his original name, “Fussbudget.” He is, of course, picky about his food and rather plaintive about receiving the food that he believes is his just dessert on a regular basis. His most distinctive nickname must certainly be “Step On Me.” And it is the behavior behind this last nickname that leads to our title exercise.
Budget is fascinated by the refrigerator. If we are in or around the kitchen, he has no other ambition but to lay in front of it, on his side, with his head flat on the floor. You’d think he were dead. The motivation for this behavior is still little understood. The freezer is on the bottom, so I tend to think that there might be a cooling draft leaking from the box that he enjoys, but it may also be that the fridge is the source of “people food” that sometimes becomes “cat food” and has enticing smells of meals-yet-to-be. It might even be a cry for attention. Perhaps Budgie recognizes the fridge as an oft-visited location in the kitchen where his people might see him there and pet him or remember to get him a treat. My wife theorizes that a mouse may once have snuck under the fridge and Budgie is being ever-vigilant, reliving fantasies of yesteryear that the mouse might reappear and become a most animated and interesting cat toy.
Whatever the reason, if we’re downstairs in the kitchen, we find that Budget is always at his station in front of the fridge. This is only a problem when we go to access food or drink located inside the refrigerator. Unfortunately, Budgie is not smart enough to realize that if he causes one of us to fall on him, the results could be tragic. Therefore, he fails to move out of the way when we attempt to access the fridge. Talking to him doesn’t work. Little nudges don’t work. Glaring angrily at him doesn’t work. There are two options: sweep him gently out of the way with one foot while attempting to balance on the other or place a foot on either side of him to gain access to the refrigerator. The first revisits the potential of a tragic onslaught of a gravity-accelerated human body upon the little cat, so the second is the only sensible alternative. This is what is called “Straddling the Budgie.”
To be clear, one must remember that he is there, then begin the exercise. First, look down. Accurate foot placement is required to avoid compressed toes, stressed whiskers, or a dented tail. Second, place the foot in a clear space with a one-inch margin from apparently sleeping cat. Third, pull open the refrigerator door. Depending upon foot placement, you may not have allowed yourself sufficient room for leverage to break the slight vacuum inside the fridge caused by the refrigeration action, so the door won’t open without the need to move your feet (which imperils Budgie). In this case, you may have to perform a deep knee bend (or “dip,” in dance parlance) to build up the necessary momentum to successfully access the refrigerator compartment. Fourth, retrieve as many refrigerator food materials that you believe you need for food preparation or sufficient hydration (you don’t want to do this again). Lastly, close the door with elbow.
If performed correctly, Budget will have neither moved nor even acknowledged your effort. You have just completed “Straddling the Budgie.” Repeat several times a day.
He is kind of cute, isn’t he?
Gosh darn it.