Several months ago now, we were getting ready to walk His Highness to school one morning, and I got this call...
"Hi, this is So-and-So from the Lutheran Preschool and Daycare up the road. Um, your cat is here?"
"OK. He's not lost or anything, but thanks for letting me know. He'll come home on his own."
"Can you come and get him? He's in the parking lot where parents drop off their kids, so I'm worried about him getting run over, and he was walking around the playground, where the kids go out to play. And some of our kids have allergies, [blah blah blah]..."
"Well I'm heading out to take my oldest to kindergarten right now, but we can swing by after that and see if he's still there."
And so after kindergarten drop-off we kept on walking (I walked. The Littler One and Tiny E were nestled comfortably in the double-jogger), through the neighborhood and up & around to the Lutheran church (which is where the preschool is), just over a half mile from our house. By this time Nipples was long gone, but we took a trip through the parking lot just to make sure.
In general I like to remain as inconspicuous as possible, but as luck would have it we arrived just in time for the afternoon preschool drop-off. As I was walking along, pushing a bright yellow stroller amid a line of minivans and crossover SUVs in varying shades of taupe and silver, I caught the eye of the person directing traffic, who also happened to be communicating with those inside the building via radio. I momentarily thought about ducking and running just to make things interesting, but those responsible for young children can get pretty hardcore (using nice voices and kind words, but hardcore just the same), so instead I walked over to say hello.
"Hi, I had gotten a call that my cat was here, so I was just stopping by to check in."
"Oh yes, that was me who called you. He's gone now, but he was over there, where the children play sometimes."
"You mean that space at the edge of the woods? Ah, that's probably how he got over here then, through those woods."
"Yes, thankfully no kids were outside at the time. We have some with allergies, plus he's an unknown animal, so we try to have the kids steer clear in general."
"I understand. Usually he doesn't stay--he might say hello, but he shouldn't cause any problems. If he does please let me know and I'll see what I can do. If it helps, he's had all his shots and is a friendly guy, especially with kids."
"Ok thanks. I have to get back to letting these cars through. Have a nice day."
I have to say that when considering career possibilities, never once did I expect to become a PR director/liaison for my cat. But sometimes these things come about by way of necessity, and with that portion of the day accomplished, the kids and I headed home. We got about halfway home when who should come sauntering out of the bushes lining the walking path, but Nipples himself.
"Well hi Nipples, I hear you've been having a fun time exploring today."
"Yeah, I stopped by the church. Said some prayers. Worked on my catechism a little."
"You realize we're not Lutheran though, right?"
"Speak for yourself!"
"Well, I mean, it's OK if you want to be Lutheran. They're more liturgical than our non-denominational leanings, but we agree on Jesus and all of that, I think. I just want you to be aware of your heritage is all. You want to walk home with us?"
"I'd rather alternate between darting ahead and following behind, while throwing in a few annoyed meows every so often if that's alright, and then I may duck into the woods just for giggles & grins, but yes, I'll join you at the house shortly."
"That's cool. Let's go home."
It was after this trip that we started to muse about getting Nipples one of those homing devices for his collar, if nothing else to see exactly how far he roams. As of yet we haven't done it. We still could, but for reasons that will be revealed he seems to have tightened his radius, at least for now.
Because Nipples didn't stop with the Lutheran school, and he didn't settle for the parking lot...