It is a commonplace among dog fanciers that the age of a dog can be roughly correlated to human age in a 7-to-1 ratio. We speak often of our pets' 'dog years', thinking of our 2-year-old terriers as rambunctious teenagers and our 10-year old basset hounds as stately old ladies and gentlemen. We say it's been 'a dog's age' since an event occurred: about seven years ago, or perhaps one year that felt like seven. It's much rarer to speak in the same way about cats, since cat lives don't seem to map properly onto the human aging scale in the same way. Cats become adults faster and remain 'middle-aged' much longer than humans. Constructing a 'cat years' scale would require a more complicated algorithm, one not necessarily conducive to quick mental math, and thus far less useful as a social metaphor.
|Summer of 2011, at age 65|
My car doesn't have a name. I buy 87-octane gas and do minimal maintenance; I have no intention of spending time or money fixing the dented bumper or the hairline crack in the windshield. I listen to her, watch her vitals on the dash display, and think that I am being told something, but I am never under a delusion that this is anything other than an analogy. Yet I still feel, totally irrationally and at the same time utterly reasonably, that we have been through a lot together, that we have seen some great times and some great places, that we've made it through some crazy roads that we weren't sure we were going to conquer. I pat her on the steering column now and then, and I thank her when I get worried she's going to break down and she doesn't. I think she'll hit 80 like a summer breeze; she's rusting pretty bad in some spots, but with heart like hers, I have to believe that reaching 100 isn't completely out of the question. And I'll say one thing for sure: I'll be real, real sad when she shuffles off this mortal coil.