When Gorilla Goes Walking

Gorilla Goes WalkingGodzil­la. That was the orig­i­nal name of my feline char­ac­ter. I chose the name because it expressed the size and feroc­i­ty of her per­son­al­i­ty. It was also a bit of a joke, of course, because she was very small and, well, kit­ten­ish. But don’t tell her that!

As per­fect as her cho­sen name was, I had to change it. I did so under duress, mind you. When the man­u­script made its way into copy­edit­ing, I was informed that that the name Godzil­la was owned by Warn­er Bros. and that I did not have the right to use it. Excuse me? I was miffed, to say the least. But what can you do? So, I set about try­ing to come up with anoth­er name that could con­vey sim­i­lar attrib­ut­es. The spelling of the name also need­ed to work, syl­lab­i­cal­ly (is that a word?) with the meter of all the already-writ­ten poems. Goril­la came as close as I could get to sat­is­fy­ing those needs.

As for Goril­la’s (nee Godzil­la’s) pedi­gree, she is a Manx.

Hang­ing with Debra Jack­son and Gail Broad­nax, my buds back in the day. Debra’s the one styling with the hat.

My best friend, Debra, had a Manx when she was grow­ing up. That cat had per­son­al­i­ty and atti­tude to spare, and I loved her for it! In fact, she was the first feline to ever win my heart. She was very much her own per­son, and a nat­ur­al born char­ac­ter. I’d no idea I’d end up writ­ing a book inspired by her, though.

Still BFFs! Here, we’re on our way to the IMAGE Awards the year I won for Barack Oba­ma: Son of Promise, Child of Hope.

I’ve owned a few cats in my time, but I haven’t had one in years. Still, on my school vis­its, I’m fre­quent­ly asked what my favorite pet is. I always say cats. Tech­ni­cal­ly, though, that’s incor­rect. Cats are not pets. Any­one who lives with a cat knows that, in the feline-human rela­tion­ship, the human belongs to the cat, not the oth­er way around! Any­way, the con­stant ques­tions about my favorite pet brought back mem­o­ries of my first close feline encounter. In oth­er words, they remind­ed me of that Manx.

The sce­nar­ios in When Goril­la Goes Walk­ing are imag­i­nary, but I would­n’t call them fic­tion­al. After all, cats do hiss at dogs, bat­tle with house­plants, and curl up with their humans when a lit­tle love is need­ed, don’t they? And like Goril­la, all cats rule. Any­one who’s ever been owned by a feline can tell you that!

I’ve got a few favorite poems in this col­lec­tion, but you’ll have to find your own. I’ll close with one of mine.

Learn­ing the Rules

At first it was­n’t easy
remem­ber­ing who was boss,
whose turn it was to catch the ball,
whose turn it was to toss.
But now I’ve got the hang of it.
(House­break­ing was a snap.)
I scratch Goril­la’s bel­ly when
she com­man­deers my lap.
I switch the sun­lamp on for her
if it’s a cloudy day.
I run, I jump, I fetch, unless
my mas­ter turns away
and stretch­es ‘cross the carpet,
reclin­ing still as stone,
ignor­ing me until I see
she wants to be alone.

One Response

  1. Love the pic­tures of BFFs then and now. 

    I’m glad you were able to find a name that worked with the already-writ­ten poems. Talk about a poten­tial stressor! 🙂

    I’m order­ing the book through the library now. My youngest will love it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.