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Ms. Hoffmann's

Felines Make 
Good Friends

February 4, 1985
Herald Staff Writer

  Ever notice cats think they're hot stuff?
  The two felines I grew closest to during my youth--Sylvester and Matilda--demanded equality. This probably accounted for their air of superiority. I learned a lot from them. But mainly they taught me that in order to receive respect and love, I had to give it. 
  Sylvester was a black and white son of a bob-tailed cat, who ruled our house, his domain, with a cool that surpassed any Homo sapien cool.
  His walk was a proud, arrogant swagger mixed with a bit of a strut. And he was ornery.
  He had been born on the wrong side of the tracks and he knew it. Aggressive, defensive and a little neurotic, Sylvester had literally clawed respect from his peers and co-inhabitants. 
  Understanding the male ego, I gave into him when I knew he needed it. However, I was determined never to let him dominate me. 
  As a result, Sylvester and I had a strange, but close relationship.
  If he was sleeping in a chair, or another piece of living room furniture, he protected his bed with fangs and a hiss. 
  If he took MY place, I'd stand up for my rights, but he'd never give in without a fight. Being the bigger of the two of us, I would gently but firmly move him--but even this little claim of territory had to be handled delicately.
  With my first touch, big "S" would stiffen and hook his claws into the skin around my wrist. Immediately I would pause and both of us would become deathly still. Our eyes would lock, then slowly defiantly, I would try to stroke him.  At this point he'd grip my thumb with his pearly whites.
Rather than jerk away to his victory, I'd inch my hand forward, deeper into his mouth.  The poor thing then couldn't get any leverage, and would ultimately be forced to give up the throne. But despite the ongoing battle for supremacy, Sylvester and I fostered a mutual respect for one another.
  I was the only human he would deign to negotiate with. I never tried to pull one over on him and he knew it. 
  Whenever we met, our greeting took the form of a silent nod or a soft hello. He purred only for me, and in response, I shared my peanuts with him whenever he asked. 
  Matilda was another story.
  She too had the trademark of superiority, but hers was an innate part of her character. Unlike Sylvester, Matilda had roots in Siamese aristocracy and didn't feel like she had to flaunt it to get her way. She simply expected to be treated as royalty. She was spoiled rotten. 
  I'd always heard it was dangerous to sleep with cats because they have been known to smother children, but there was no convincing Matilda she had a bed of her own. 
  As a kitten, she decided my head was the softest place in the house. It wasn't until her rear kept flopping off onto the pillow, that she accepted she had outgrown her crib.
  Mornings were a wild and exciting time for both of us. That's when she'd take her daily run.
  It was an unfortunate coincidence that my bed lay in the middle of her charted course. As she ran her laps, I seethed, knowing that it would do no good to complain. There's no stopping health nuts in the middle of an exercise craze.
  In fact, I thought she had begun carrying fitness too far when she started taking an additional run in the evenings. I tried to tell her she was wearing herself out--something bad was bound to happen--but she insisted on learning the hard way. 
One night, our third roommate leaned a huge cardboard box against the wall close to the living room door leading into the hallway. As Matilda rounded the room on her third lap, she headed for the obscured opening.
  Many hours of early morning running and nightly sprints had built her confidence in the stability of her chosen course.
  Matilda knew that when she took the curve around the box, she would be on the straightaway through the door into the bedroom. 
  It was a sad discovery that there was four inches of wall between the edge of the box and the open door.
  I heard the resounding thud from the bathroom--then--silence. 
  After a brief moment, Matilda wobbled around the edge of the cardboard box.. She collapsed in a heap at my feet. I cried--she cried--but after that, our relationship deepened. I think she had finally learned to listen to what I said.
  The two of us grew even closer through quiet moments together and long walks in the park. We strolled in the same vicinity, but alone in our own space and thoughts. It was fine unless the distance between us became too great. Then stubbornly, she'd sit down and start pouting.
  I'd stop to wait for her to catch up, but she always took advantage of the pause to give me a real piece of her mind.
  Then, with precise timing, when she knew I had taken just about all I would, she'd run up my leg to settle precariously on my shoulder. Needless to say, we got some strange looks.
  My feline friends have made a big impact on the quality of my life. Like most of my human acquaintances, they developed expectations, but the way I look at it, love, respect and equality are not too much to ask of friendship.   

Copyright The Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, 

Perfection May Only Be a Fall Away

Herald Staff Writer

  It's the age of perfection Everyone, everywhere wants to do everything right. 
  I've encountered a little difficulty finding my niche in this popular fad. But after much pondering and considerable thought, I've come up with an area in which I feel I have the potential to reach perfection. 
  Research, field experimentation and observation have nurtured my confidence. Relatively secure in my expertise, I now feel a sense of responsibility to share my acquired knowledge. I've combined this knowledge with practical, realistic tips to help even the most amateurish excel.
  The topic I wish to expand upon is falling. I'd like to clarify not only what it is, but how to do it well. Admirable falls don't come easy, but they do come, and like anything worth doing, falls are worth doing right. 
  To simplify matters, I've divided falls into four major categories:  falling on ice; falling down stirs, falling over curbs and, lastly, falling off shoes.
  Now to fall means to descend freely by the force of gravity, or to become lower in level.  A good, all-around general rule of thumb is to always remember that even a premeditated fall must be done unawares. Fake it if needs be, but never omit the look of stark terror that should accompany the downward descent. 
  Though all of the above mentioned falls are traditional falls, possibly the most common is falling on ice because it is the least complex. 
  Naturally, the most important ingredient is a nice solidly frozen patch of ice.  Location isn't terribly important other then the fact it needs to be somewhere in the vicinity of a large crowd.  To do any of these falls without an audience is to commit a serious injustice. 

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