I'm Jewish: The Story of Two Cats

By Jean Baur

I was watching to see if she was going to give me credit for the oven stuffer roaster, advertised as a "buy one, get one free." You have to keep your eye on these people who are often chatting or thinking about something else instead of paying attention to the money you should save.

"Bleep," went chicken number one, ringing up at $8.15. Chicken number two did the same thing. I've got this system down. If you pick ones with different prices, they charge you for the more expensive one and give you the cheaper one free. But today was a lucky day because I found two chickens for exactly the same price, which took pawing through the entire freezer bin and tossing the rigid corpses around.

The second one rang up as well.

"Isn't this a buy one get one free?" I asked.

"Oh, sure," she told me. "It comes off at the end."

I don't like that. I don't want it to come off at the end. I want to only see one chicken on my receipt, not two with one subtracted later.

"Okay," I said, pretending that this was just fine with me. I watched the yogurts sliding over the scanning window. That was a buy six get one free. And sure enough, there were seven yogurts on the screen. This was going to require careful scrutiny with my glasses on after all the bags were packed.

And speaking of bags, I'm into recycling, so I had brought in five bags from my last shopping trip and had to remember to see if she gave me the two cents off for each. "What's this?" she said, lifting a white bulb with feathery green stems.

I could have left it at that because she found the price, the right price, but I think it's important to educate people about vegetables.

"It's good in a salad if you like that licorice taste, and it's really great roasted with other veggies."

"Umm," she said. I noticed that her name tag read Cheryl. Scher-ul. A funny name.

She was pretty good. And she scanned my coupons carefully, obviously remembering that I had bought the right brand of paper towels and dog treats to qualify for my discount.

She helped me bag the last items

"These look great," she said, referring to the fake bacon strips I had chosen for my dog.

"They smell good, too," I told her.

"Too bad they don't have really nice treats like this for cats."

I was still stunned that I wasn't buying cat food every week. My wonderful cat, my buddy, had recently died just a few months shy of his twenty-second birthday.

"They do have cat treats," I replied, remembering the ones I had bought for Cloudy and his propensity for throwing them up after he gobbled them down.

"Oh, sure. I know," said Cheryl, "but they're not as delicious as these. I think cats should have something better."

"I lost my cat," I said, forgetting all about the oven stuffer roasters and the yogurts.

I wondered if she would think I meant lost in the literal sense, as in I couldn't find him.

She didn't.

"Me, too," she said. "The neighbor's dog killed him."

"Oh, my God! That's awful."

"No," said Cheryl, her wide face placid as a pond at sunset. "My cat was terrible. She taunted this dog for years, sat on a tree branch just above his reach, and when he turned his back, she'd pounce on him and try to scratch his eyes out."

I knew there was a woman with a loaded cart waiting for me to pay for my groceries and get out of the way. But I couldn't move.

"But that's no excuse for killing her." I was instantly on the side of the cat, although I also have a dog and love him to death.

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