There are many times each week and, let’s be frank, at least a few times every day, that I’d like to be difficult. These moments occur in response to diverse issues: the person who says he/she will call me the next day and who never calls; the members of a group whose questions I answer at the beginning of a session and who then raise their hands mere moments later, asking the same questions again; the pets who insist on yowling for food every morning before 6pm, forcing me to stumble down the stairs in the dark, endangering my limbs; the person in the supermarket who insists on bringing more than the allowed groceries into the speed lane, along with every coupon in existence….the list goes on.
In response to these many irritants, small and large, I would like to be difficult—reporting the non-caller to a superior; docking points for the inattentive group; ignoring the feed-me-now yowls; and ramming a shopping cart none-so-gently into the coupon carrier’s ridiculously-loaded cart. Doing so would be so very pleasant.
When my patience is tried and my tongue near to sharpening, I remind myself that I am an adult with a modicum of manners: I must take the high road. But if I am truthful, I confess I would get great pleasure from bursting out in a display of witty, glass-cutting temper or making a righteous rumpus fueled by smoldering indignation. Sadly, unless one is very rich or very wealthy, being difficult is not allowed: we regular Joes and Janes must simply bite our tongues and imagine inventive revenge scenarios that can never be played out.
Yet, one group has managed to be difficult on a regular basis and has survived, even thrived, on such high-maintenance behavior. I speak, of course, of cats. Now, not all cats are difficult. There are some that are quiet, going almost unnoticed, rather than producing operatic arias of look-at-me-ness. Others are lazy, so comatose in their endless napping that they rarely raise a paw to create trouble. Rather than ignoring their humans entirely for much of the day and then demanding total involvement for the few moments they desire the spotlight, there are a few cats who are more like dogs, just grateful for a bit of food and a tiny pat on the head. I have one of these cats, and while some say she doesn’t have much personality, I argue that her quiet, unobtrusive nature means that she is very restful. However, many cats demand more: some, much more. These are the cats that are not just difficult, they are professionally difficult.
For the professionally difficult being troublesome is as natural as respiration, as normal as the turning of the seasons, as usual as a music star demanding just green jellybeans—none of those horrible red or blue beans, egads—in a dressing room. In their dedication to being trying, such cats resemble a film star who can only be addressed in hushed reverential tones or the politician who will only wear striped ties because polka dots are so 1989. I have lived with one such individual for 8+ years: 8+ very tempestuous years.
There are positives to life with the professionally difficult—one is never bored, one is continually on one’s toes, and one is grateful for the moments of sweetness amidst the thorniness. However, the negatives of living 24/7 with such dedicated divaness can be significant. The topper is, I admit, jealously: as I endure the professionally difficult feline I wish I were allowed such behavior myself.
However, said feline is soft, small, and perfectly formed with a deliciously melodic purr and glorious eyes: these attributes go a long way towards excusing the trouble she causes. I, one the other hand, have no such attractions to mitigate any divaness I might exhibit. Thus, alas, I shall have to leave being professionally difficult to others and confine my bad behavior to occasional silent monologues of spite, a haughty raised eyebrow, or clenched hands behind my back. And if I am ever in a position in which I can be professionally difficult, I hope that I will behave myself and turn from evil. Yet, if I ever fail in goodness my years with the diva have taught me not only how to be difficult, so very difficult, but also, as a small grace note, how to do so with great style and, perhaps, even a wink.