Before Greta, there was Wally. He was raised in a Southie brothel – I mean apartment – by the wife and “all the single ladies” with whom she lived at the time many moons ago. They weaned him on Fancy Feast, expressions of feelings, The Bachelor, and sangria – basically the perfect recipe for spawning a pimp.
When I met Walter back in 05’ at Pacific Street, I sighed and thought “Oh great, she’s one of those single girls with a cat.” In other words, pretend to like her pussy (pause) cat if I want to get her pussy (pause) willow … but little did I know, this cat was of the coolest variety.
Wally strutted around our home like he just owned the joint. Passersby might try to call him over, but he wouldn’t just stop for anybody. You needed to have some type of rapport or history with him. Basically, you had to be one of his peeps.
The Wall-man was a hulking, feline mass of black, white, grey, and light brown stripes. He had a small pie slice missing out of one of his ears, which was a souvenir from a back alley fight during his rookie season. He went undefeated from that time until a minor setback with raccoons (yes, plural) back in 07’ but he dragged himself back to the ring to re-assert his dominance of the East Third and G Street Southie sector a couple weeks later.
Despite Wally’s tough exterior, he had a keen sense when one of his loved ones was down. He had an uncanny knack for crawling up on a lap and maybe even licking an arm, at just the right time. He was especially close to his most loving and longest-serving parent, Shell. “He is my rock,” she would tell me all the time. Let's just say, he knew her moods better than I did most of the time.
Of course, the 20+ pound mass of loving, hairy warmth won me over probably after the first time he plopped himself on my chest as I laid in bed one night. His purring was like the perfect, wonderful lullaby. The ever growing affection I had for him was eroding my machismo. My preconception that "straight men don’t love cats,” couldn't have been more wrong.
Over time, I came to marvel at Wally’s unique qualities. For example, he growled when the door bell rang. He came running from out of nowhere when I whistled for him to come home. As he crossed the street, his belly would sway from side to side as he said “mow wow mow wow” which translates in cat to “where the hell have you been, I’ve been waiting forevah fo’ ya across the street” in a thick, Boston accent. But most impressively to me, Wally could get an erection from licking his own scrotum. (Seeing his lipstick always made me think of the meat beneath the shell of a lobster claw, for some reason.) Moving on.
After I knocked up the wife, we speculated about how Wally would react to his future sibling’s presence. He was, after all, an only child for over 9 years by the time February of 2009 rolled around. When we came home from the hospital with G, our worries about Wally’s feelings towards her evaporated when we caught him affectionately nuzzling the side of her face. We were a happy family.
Unfortunately, we lost our little man during the same week that my grandmother passed away, which was a few weeks after Greta was born. Wally went missing before we had left for my grandma’s services in New York. When we returned, we received the bad news about Wally from a neighbor. He was most likely hit by a car. It was a bad week, to say the least.
Walter Cooney Teravainen now sleeps peacefully beneath a beautiful, flower garden in Carver close to where Greta will be playing happily in the years to come. I imagine that he went running with his belly swaying into the Pearly Gates. I hope he gave a nice “mow wow” to those who greeted him.
I am grateful to Wally for introducing me to a sort of fatherhood. He was the first pet that I ever called my own. He is and will continue to be missed in our home. I needed some time before I could appropriately memorialize him. I hope I did justice to his mystique.
To all of you loving parents of furry children out there, give them a nice hug, kiss, and a special treat in memory of the Wall-man tonight. Maybe that early morning wake up tomorrow will not be so bad after all!