austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

You're liable to cough, you might very well fall off

My brother is very allergic to cats. Nevertheless, he has one in his house, because he loves his wife and she is kind enough to keep it down to one pet at a time. I would comically exaggerate his allergy, except that it's not possible; he's more allergic than any exaggeration I could provide suggests. It's severe enough the house can be vacuumed only when he is out for the whole day, so there's time for cat fluff to settle after its stirring up. So. As people arrived for the gettogether, my brother issued the warning that no one was to pet the cat under any circumstances. He made this in a simple imperative tone that encouraged everyone to superficially agree while snickering with one another about it, although we were willing to not pet the cat if that meant he wouldn't break out from touching hands that had touched the cat.

As you can imagine, the ruling left people happy to strictly speaking obey. It wasn't until I pointed out we could use one of the extra plastic spoons to pet the cat with that my brother finally explained the point of his ruling, which he should have done at front. He doesn't particularly care who touches the cat, but stirring up dander would result in him having several miserable days, and he did not want that. If he had said that to start with then we could have all gone right to the ultimate solution instead of wasting several hours approaching the answer.

Toward the end of the night when the cat wandered out from the bedrooms, she could count on several people putting out their hands and brushing a few inches above her head and back. The stroking was in line with the fur -- no sense rubbing the cat the wrong way -- and was just precisely as successful in keeping both cat and brother satisfied as you might have imagined.

A lingering thought about that 1898 book I just read: it mentions L Frank Baum, of course, and that in the 1890s he had a career selling plate-glass window fronts for stores and of necessity teaching store owners how to make attractive, attention-gathering displays instead of jamming as many products as possible into whatever space was available. (The lesson for web page designers might be learned within the next forty years.) I just ... would like better backing for the claim that L Frank Baum invented attractive store window-displays. Someone had to, yes, but the guy who created The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? It seems like the world should be bigger than that, regardless of how strange the world deep-down is.

Trivia: French King Louis XIV's court grew to include ten thousand participants. Source: Ideas: A History from Fire to Freud, Peter Watson.

Currently Reading: The Viking Rocket Story, Milton W Rosen. And signed by either Rosen or a Rosen impersonator, too.


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