Puckett's confidence amazes me.
She's very subtle about it too. It took me awhile to realize just how much confidence this cat has because she is so effortless about it. She conducts herself in a manner that, when one watches her, really watches her, is beautiful in its subtlety. I just noticed this when I saw her sitting on the floor of the living room the other day, so sure of herself and the fact that everyone will step around her, step over her, or whatever. It never even crossed her mind that the dog would stomp all over her or that I would trip over her. This simply could not happen.
And it didn't.
After noticing this, I thought back over other times when she demonstrated this air of confidence: Sprawling full length on one of the middle steps to the third landing, not bothering to move when I race down the stairs or Tess races up. Parking herself on the top step of the staircase down to the living room, just behind the gate, knowing that I will literally jump over that step in my effort to avoid her. Flipping her tail right in my path as I barrel past her in the bedroom in the morning so that I skip to the side at the last minute. Twining around my ankles and then sitting right in front of me as I stumble because she knows I won't fall on her even if I have to throw myself to the side and break an arm in the process.
Okay, I have not broken an arm yet, but it's coming. I feel it.
She waits until the very last minute, until I have pushed the vacuum cleaner nearly up to her nose before she will leave the room, a snotty look thrown over her shoulder at me with a "How dare you?" expression on her face. Her favorite game is to sit by the floor-level kitchen cupboard, wait patiently to get Tess' attention, and then bang the door with her paw because she knows she will always get a reaction out of the dog. If the dog ignores her at first, she waits until Tess is looking at her and then she'll bang the door several times for good measure. This always spurs the dog into action. She gets up and paces around the kitchen with Puckett capering behind her or beside her, almost as if they are dancing. Tess will pause and Puckett will weave back and forth in front of her, running her tail under the dog's nose and purring loudly. When Tess finally gets tired of the game, she will lie down and Puckett will sit between her front legs while Tess licks her ears. I believe the cabinet-banging is an invitation for Tess to dance. If Tess rejects the invitation, well, Puckett DEMANDS it. And, of course, Tess complies because, like the rest of us, she is powerless over Puckett's allure.
Puckett is so sure of her rank in the pack. Tess and Percy are fairly confident animals too, but Puckett is still the Queen Bee. The dog knows it, the other cats know it, and I know it. If she does not want to be moved from a spot she is sitting in, she will dig in with all four sets of claws and station herself firmly. She cannot be moved without destroying the bedspread or couch cover. The only way to move her is to deliberately pretend to sit on her, and even then I almost have to actually sit on her. We all defer to her. She doesn't entertain the thought that we wouldn't. Perhaps this is why we do defer to her. Her confidence is so absolute that we defer to it like we don't even have a choice in the matter, and what's more, we don't think twice about it. Her confidence is that absolute and confidence, I have learned over the last few months, is attractive.
We are all attracted to Puckett's orbit. We all want to be around her.
Here is this extremely overweight, tabby and white, middle-aged pound cat. No one looked twice at her at the Dog and Cat Shelter when I found her because she was half bald and sick with a respiratory infection. No one would have imagined that she would become this commanding presence, this leader of the pack that could make a seventy-pound German shepherd do her bidding. I've noticed lately that Willow has been trying to emulate her. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all. Willow tries to herd the dog around, she sits in Puckett's spots, and she always wants to eat out of Puckett's bowl. Puckett will shoo her away every time, but Willow still tries. She is currently sitting on the arm of the couch while I write which is one of Puckett's favorite spots. Another one is the back of the couch. Willow has recently started parking herself there as well, almost as if she'd been watching Puckett these last few months. "If I behave like Puckett, I can become like Puckett!"
Willow's problem is, while emulating Puckett is admirable, she is still too high-strung and spazzy to truly pull it off, so the other animals still treat her like the annoying younger sister. Her actions mirror Puckett's, but she doesn't have the inner confidence and personality to back it up. "Fake it till you make" it isn't exactly working for her, though she could definitely pick a much worse role model.
I wish I had Puckett's confidence. I wish I could move through life with the ease that Puckett does. She doesn't care if someone doesn't like her. It doesn't affect her. Also it doesn't matter anyway because she has the power to change their minds, like my friend who was here once for dinner and announced that out of my three cats, Willow was the cutest and Percy the most interesting personality. Puckett was cute, but Willow had the face and body that just made her adorable. Puckett had ignored us until then. Almost as if she understood him, she marched up to his chair, sat down by the side of it, looked up at him, and chirped her trademark, high-pitched, kitten meow. He looked down at her, properly chastised, and said, "Okay, I take it back. That was adorable." I told him maybe next time he'll think twice about insulting Puckett.
Tess, Percy, and Willow all ingratiate themselves to guests when they come over. Puckett is more reserved. Her good opinion is rarely bestowed and therefore more worth the earning. I want to be like that. I want to go through life not caring what others think of me. I want to adopt the magical thinking of not giving a fuck. I want to be able to change people's opinions about me because I don't care, because I don't have to even try to impress them because in my mind, they are already impressed. I want to know without the shadow of a doubt that someone won't step on me or my heart or my feelings because to do so is unfathomable in my mind.
I want to know that I matter and have faith that I have a purpose.
Most of all I want to know that I have a few close intimate friends that love me no matter what because they are my family, because they look up to me and respect me. They love me unconditionally and even in a moment of weakness, their love and admiration is unshakable. Out of everything, Puckett is most sure of this.
I'm working on it. Taking a page from Puckett's book, I've been practicing confidence in my online dating capers. It is a confidence booster getting responses online from guys who actually want to meet me, and I just need to act like Puckett. Why wouldn't these guys want to get to know me? Like Puckett, the thought should never cross my mind that they wouldn't. Unfortunately it's not as easy for me as it is Puckett.
I've met few animals like Puckett and even fewer people. She's not the most beautiful cat in the world, but she acts like she is. She's smarter than most people and all dogs. She is secure in the knowledge that she is loved and respected. She shows empathy and love in return because she genuinely cares about those closest to her. Tess, Percy, and Willow all have their insecurities like I do. They have their faults. But Puckett is our steady, quiet leader, the leader because she knows to the bottom of her heart, that it can't be any other way. That it would never be any other way. She has never acted arrogantly, just extremely sure of herself, and that is what makes her so attractive.
That's confidence. That's believing in yourself.
If a twenty pound house cat can do it, we all should be able to as well.