I’m Not Speaking to You!

My brother Chuck’s regular refrain when we were kids: “I’m not speakin’ to you!” (with a very strong emphasis on the “p”). He used the phrase more often on Dale than on me. I was more than 5 years his senior and she was more than 8. She had a way of getting under our skin. And she loved every minute of it. So, Chucky would regularly come stomping into the bedroom we shared and walk up to the small chalkboard my father had mounted on the wall. He would draw an angry vertical line down the center to form two columns. Atop one, he would write “GOOD” and atop the other, “BAD.”

“That’s it,” he’d yell. “You’re on the bad list, Dale!” And he would write her name.

I could always hear Dale’s laughter from the other room. She’d usually sweet-talk herself off the board within an hour. (She was as good at being apologetic as she was at being annoying.) Chucky would erase everything — in preparation for the next time. I was rarely on the bad list. However, when I was, it was for a much longer stretch. He once got so angry with me, he roared, “You know what you are?”

“What?” I cooly replied.

He snarled, “You’re a real dammit!”


This all came to mind late this afternoon when we brought the cats home from their follow-up visit with the vet. They behaved exactly the way they did two weeks ago. They were not happy about being stuffed into their carriers (Jerry grabbed Moose and I grabbed Dudo). They were not happy — although they were gentle — about being handled by the doctor (who commented on how beautiful and unusual their eye color is, pure gold sometimes, vivid green at others). Dudo did not enjoy being carried through the streets amid the noise and traffic. (Moose seemed to like that part.)



When we got home and opened the carrier doors, they both shot into the living room and under the couch. They individually came out to eat a couple of times, but would not make eye contact with us as they sped quickly by. Then it was back under the couch. We tried talking soothingly to them. No reaction.

I kept hearing in my head, “I’m not SP-eaking to you!”

After about four hours, Moose let me cuddle with him on the floor for a couple of minutes. When Jerry bent down, he turned his back and rudely walked away. Dudo continued to ignore us both. It has now been eight hours since we returned home. Dudo just came into my room and let me stroke his back — for a brief moment. Jerry just went and talked to them both. They went back under the couch.

So, it looks like I may be first to be forgiven. I sure hope we’re both off the “BAD” list soon. I’m feeling like a real dammit.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

35 thoughts on “I’m Not Speaking to You!”

    1. the cuby poet:
      These guys are stinkers. Dobie used to give us some attitude, but never like this. He would simply turn his back … but still allow us to pet him. Thelma was just happy to be home. And Maynard never caught on that we were the ones who put him in the cage to begin with. He was all over us for being his saviors!

    2. I saw your comment on Jose Luis Marin Martinez's blog and clicked on your photo there. I loved this story about you being a real dammit! hahaha But I also loved the photo of you with your brother. It's a great photo!!! I liked it so much I copied it to my computer. =0) Since you are in Seville I am assuming that you have met Jose Luis Marin Martinez since you know where he sells his work on Sundays. If you haven't met him then you must. Not only is his artwork absolutely incredible but he is just a wonderful person. I met him last year here in Puerto Vallarta where he lives when he's not in Spain and we became great friends. If you happen to see him please tell him that his friend, David Kerstetter, from Vallarta says hello. His jaw will drop open probably. lol I love to surprise him in little ways like this. =0) Also, I am enjoying your blog. You're a wonderful writer and congratulations to you and Jerry for living such a beautiful life together AND your graphic design and artwork is fantastic! Really loved the repetitive design idea. Really nice work!

    3. kerstification:
      Your message has made my entire day (and set me up for the rest of the week at least). I can't thank you enough for your generous words. I haven't yet met Jose. I found his site today through another local artist's (whom I know) out-dated blog. Such amazing art. I'm hoping I'll get to meet him at Plaza del Museo, but during August in Sevilla anyone who can be at a beach … is! I just quickly visited your blog and can't wait to get absorbed in it. Your work is beautiful! What a great day. Discovering two talented artists and getting an ego boost along with it!

    4. I noticed that I had a follower on my blog yesterday….one….you! =0) And I thought to myself, "OH! He wrote back!" You are so nice. Thank you for your wonderful compliments also. I do hope you get to meet Jose Luis but he is returning to Mexico this Friday so chances are probably slim ….at least for now. He will be back in Spain again however, since he LOVES his hometown, Seville.
      I just finished reading your post "Start Counting". It's so warm and charming and honest. I loved it. =0)

  1. Not only are cats very clever creatures, they have the ability to remember things like that. Once you get on a cat's shit list it is very hard to get off it. I know, I had my mother's cat doing the same thing and it took months to get her confidence back…about the time she was ready to make a return visit to the vet. I never was able to befriend her again.
    Los gatos son las únicas criaturas que tienen orgullo y dignidad…tal y como los humanos.
    Los perros tienen algo pero no son tan rencorosos.

    1. Raulito:
      Hopefully, unlike your mother's cat, ours will forgive us quickly. We're the ones who give them their food and treats.

      Unfortunately, we have to take them back to the vet in 3 weeks. They were delivered to us by the shelter with all their shots and clean bills of health… and also ear mites!

  2. Whenever one of our cats, MaxGoldberg of the Boca Raton Goldbergs, does something wrong and gets reprimanded, he instantly runs down the hall to our bedroom and hides under the bed. When he finally emerges, he will not look at whoever did the shouting and cozies up to the "nice" one.

    Cats. Gotta love 'em.

  3. Trips to the vet are a bit of an ordeal for human and cat here, involving a long drive on winding country roads. Fortunately when we get home again he is just so happy to be home he forgives me immediately. Maybe it's different with a solitary cat, your two have each other. They have such beautiful eyes. I hope they forgive you soon!

    1. Judith:
      Our cats Dobie and Maynard (also brothers and litter mates, like Dudo and Moose) reacted very differently. Dobie would settle into the carrier without a problem. Maynard became a terrifying nightmare that the vet had to wrap in a towel to examine. Afterward, Dobie had attitude, but would still allow us to pet him. Maynard acted as if we had saved his life and he had no idea we had put him in the cage in the first place. So, having each other doesn't appear to make a difference.

      But, it's after 11 p.m. and we seem to have been forgiven by Dudo and Moose… although they appear to be monitoring us very closely.

  4. Years ago I had a cat who would go out and kill a bird, bring it inside and lay it on the floor whenever he was pissed at me. He never killed birds (that I knew of) unless he wasn't sPeaking to me. Your kitty blogs always bring back thoughts of my guys… I miss it that I'm no longer owned by a cat.

  5. Years ago, we had a big grey tiger-striped named Barney. He could handle most stuff except being left home over a weekend. For days after we returned, he would make a point of climbing to the highest spot in the room–the fridge in the kitchen or the etagere in the living room–and turn his back to us. If he could push something off onto the floor, that was all the better. We'd just humor him until he got over it.

  6. Isn't it curious when our memories are jogged like that! Your brother was/is quite the character!!
    That photo of you with him…..we could be 'brothers' Mitch! You remind me of me when I was that age around 12/13 or so…..lanky, immaculate hair etc. What year was that Mitch? I would guess between 62 and 64.

  7. Cats are so beautiful and fascinating and I am so terribly allergic to them that my eyes swell shut in 24 hours. (OR that was my experience when I was in my 20s and tried to have a kitten as a pet…)So I can never really be around a cat very long at all…But they are beautiful and I enjoy seeing pictures and hearing stories about them…

    1. Kristi:
      Too bad about the allergies. We've got a good friend who suffers like that. She drugs herself up to visit us and then desperately wants to pet and hold the cats. Even with shots and meds, it doesn't work! I am trying so hard to not constantly write about them, but they do give me plenty of material. Thanks for not minding!

  8. Fabulous tie, Mitchell! Big orange polka dots in an irregular pattern… wonderful! Not to mention your brother's little shirt! Your Mom had a real sense of style when dressing her boys in the '60s :))

    Moose and Dudo are so darn cute that I am at a loss for other words to express my growing attachment to them :)))


    1. Judith:
      Really old photo. They were actually bid red polka dots on a black background. (Orange has never been my color). I bought the clothes myself (well, with big sister along to push me in the right direction and my friend's brother working in the store and telling me I wasn't being cool enough). But My-Mother-The-Dowager-Duchess did dress my brother. She has always been quite stylin' herself.

      I'm glad you feel so strongly for Moose and Dudo. They have forgiven us for yesterday, but if they ever get to the point where they are truly no longer sPeaking to us, I'll ship them to your house.

    1. John:
      With all the photos I've posted of myself from when I was a boy, THIS is the one you think is the one that says I'm brave? Did you not see my last two Muscle Beach photos? (I've got a shot of me in the tub I'm thinking of sharing at some point. It's NOT recent.)

  9. Laughing here. My little sister, Jessie, once called me "butt breath"…

    And I used to torment her by mouthing the word "vacuum" at her. It looked enough like "fuck you" to warrant tattling to our mother. And then I would innocently say, "I was saying VACUUM. GODDDDD!" Yeah, I know…makes no sense to say the word "vacuum" either, but I was 14 and thought it was so cool.

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