Putting Out the Cat

posted in: personal news | 4

This expression came to me from my Uncle John Sherrick, rest his soul, who, besides being one of the wisest and kindest men I ever knew, had a wonderfully droll sense of humor. I don’t know the origin of the story–I seem to remember that he was retelling it from another source–but here, more or less, is the story as he told it to me:

A farmer woke up sometime after 1 a.m. to the sound of the cat meowing at the door. He got out of bed quietly so as not to wake his wife, and went to open the back door for the cat. As he stood at the open door, he noticed that the sprinkler was still going out in the back yard, so he slipped on his shoes and went to turn to the sprinkler off. That took him near the shop, which reminded him that he’d left off painting a bit of carpentry before dinner and not gotten back to it. He was awake now, so he went into the shop and spent fifteen or twenty minutes finishing his painting job. As he was putting away the paint and brush, he noticed a bunch of tools piled near the lathe, which he’d been meaning to sharpen for months—but what with one thing and another, he’d never gotten around to it. Figuring he’d sharpen just one or two, he turned on the lathe and dug around for his safety glasses. Forty-five minutes later, he turned off the lathe and put away the stack of newly sharpened tools. That reminded him of the wagon and tractor that needed greasing, so he reached for his grease gun…

As the farmer crept back into bed somewhere around 4 a.m., his wife stirred and opened her eyes. “Where’ve you been?” she asked.

He sighed, pulled the covers up to his chin, and closed his eyes. “Putting out the cat.”

Maybe later I’ll post the updated-for-the-24th-Century version of the story that I wrote a few years ago in homage to this one.

4 Responses

  1. Anonymous
    | Reply

    My father, also the wisest and kindest soul I knew (with a very dry sense of humor as well) used to share a version of this same story with me, although as I remember it, he accomplished a lot less than your Uncle John. According to Dad, he got up to put the cat out (a strange activity in its own since cats were never allowed in our house) when he discovered that the door latch was not fitting correctly. So, he begins to fix it when he discovers that the whole door frame is coming loose. So he begins the task of fixing the door frame, but in the course of the fix, he notices that he has scraped some of the paint off, and so must repaint the entire frame. When opening the can of paint, he accidently drops a screwdriver into the paint bucket. While retrieving the screwdriver, he tips over the bucket, creating a river of “french vanilla” across the basement floor. At this point, the impatient cat runs through the spilled paint on the way to what it perceives as a crack in the door, leaving cat tracks across the floor and up the side of the door (which turns out not to be open after all). Two hours later, Dad goes back to bed explaining to Mom that he was simply putting out the cat.
    (P.S. Hi Jeff! It’s Lois – too lazy to sign up for a blog account…..)

  2. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Hey, Lois! Funny how your dad and my uncle told such similar stories, eh? I’m pretty sure that when he told it to us, it was a funny story about some other farmer, not him. The part about the door frame sounds familiar, though. I think I’d forgotten that part. I wonder if he made up a new version each time he told it.

    Jeff

  3. john
    | Reply

    Hey Jeff and Lois. Loved the story. Hope all are well. Cousin John.

  4. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Hi John! Good to hear from you! Thanks for checking in. Best–Jeff

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