I write on a recliner, with a laptop on a lap desk on my lap. Because my little red dog, Bisou, thinks that whenever I\’m out of sight I cease to exist, and her mission is to keep me alive by being with me at all times, when I bought the recliner I made sure that the seat was wide enough to accommodate both me and her. It was a tight fit, but it worked.
But that was before the arrival of Telemann, the cat. As a kitten, he would squeeze himself between Bisou and my hip and take a nap while I wrote. Now, at ten months, he\’s a ten-pound mass of assertive affection, and he too thinks that I cease to exist if he can\’t see me, which means that he has to be with me at all times.
So whenever I settle down to write, with Bisou next to me and the computer on my lap, he jumps up and insinuates himself in the space between my, um, breasts and the keyboard. He wiggles around a bit, taps my cheek with his little white paw, rolls onto his back and falls asleep.
His head rests on my right elbow, and his hind legs are splayed on my left elbow. It\’s hard for me to reach the keyboard, but I really don\’t want to wake him up because that will mean another session of feline lovemaking, with much purring and cheek patting and nose licking. So I hold my elbows out, and try to see the screen over his four white paws, which are sticking up in the air and occasionally twitching. Needless to say, if it weren\’t for spell-checker, you wouldn\’t be able to understand a word of what I write.
You know how writers are: we look for any excuse to get away from the blank page or screen. A cup of coffee or an extra sweater suddenly become urgent necessities. In my case, however, that means getting out from under Telemann, and the thirstier, colder, antsier I get, the more deeply he sleeps. I shift my hips and move my right elbow tentatively, but he is a dead weight, draped across me like those lead aprons they put on you when you\’re getting an x-ray.
If I somehow manage to get both the computer and the cat off my lap, and get that cup of coffee, I\’ll have to face it all again, the purring, the greeting, the turning around and settling down and going back to sleep. Plus, with all this going on,I\’ll probably spill hot coffee on poor innocent Bisou, or the computer, or Telemann himself.
So in the end I decide to forego the coffee and the extra sweater, and just keep writing.