Wherever the Road Leads

My First Wife and Current Cat

My first wife, who shall remain nameless except, perhaps, to mention that her initials were Darlene Verge, was the sweetest, most generous and giving, blue-eyed, natural blonde that any immature, know-it-all jerk had the honor of marrying.

I was twenty-four when we got married, thought I was forty-four and acted fourteen. Even with my better-than-average command of the English language, I cannot adequately describe what a fool I was. Though, I should have met her ten years later. I might have matured to about age eighteen by then.

Back then, I liked to go camping. Darlene didn’t. However, I was very selective as to where I wanted to camp.  I was not the least interested in camping on Georgian Bay, Lake of Bays, Lake Simcoe, Lake Scogog, Lac Phillipe, Lake Athabasca, Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes or Go Home Lake Road.

It had to be across the Niagara River in New York State. Close to the much-cheaper-American-beer aisle at Top’s Friendly Markets. Close to a local tavern, no matter how seedy. The perfect answer: Four Mile Creek State Park in Youngstown, New York, about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls, on the shores of Lake Ontario and flourishing to this day. Four Mile Creek.

So while Darlene was stuck balancing a frying pan on a Colemen stove to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, then boil the water for the clean up, I was trying to contain my empties and scrounge enough American quarters for the jukebox at the Swine’s Nest Inn, our evening’s entertainment.

Surprisingly, after sleeping on a leaking air-matress, cooking and cleaning up, Darlene did not like to play frisbee. She much preferred to relax and read a book, probably about people who lived in hotels with running water while vacationing.

In order to hone my frisbee skills, I had to play by myself. I would find an open spot and throw the frisbee, trying to keep its path as flat and straight as possible. I would walk to retrieve the frisbee, then throw it back to my original spot, again trying to keep its path as flat and straight as possible. Repeat numerous times until this solo activity got far too boring.

This became known as “playing frisbee with Darlene”.

Since moving to this house six years ago, I have had a few cats. Two got suddenly ill and had to be put down, the other, Shiloh, was the one where I should have kept the cat and given the woman away.

They all liked to play – the cats, that is. Each would chase a rolled-up ball of aluminum foil up and down the hallway, back and forth, until he flopped down on his side, panting. Not so, Tupelo.

I try my best to engage him but he is much more of a spectator than a participant. He seems to enjoy watching a silver ball zoom past his stationary paw or bounce over his body. I think in his mind he was all over that rascal ‘mouse’, had him caught, eaten and buried as he watches me walk to retrieve the silver ball and toss it back past his prostrate body again.

He’s getting pudgy. Politely, we don’t refer to it as a ‘paunch’. By projection, he too is of Scottish heritage so we call it his “sporran”.


My second-cousin, Lynda, and her husband, Gavin, mother and father of the bride, Nicole, recently married in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Gavin’s “sporran” – a pouch that performs the same function as pockets on the pocketless Scottish kilt – is in the center of his kilt and hangs from his waist.

Well the only one getting any exercise from chasing silver balls back and forth down the hall is me. And while my “sporran” certainly needs the exercise, I am giving serious thought to re-naming the cat, “Darlene”.



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  1. Alistair Mair  January 3, 2013



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