The Gueem – 1997 – 2006

Aquarian Weekly 5/31/06 REALITY CHECK

THE GUEEM – 1997-2006

Let me drink from the waters where the mountain streams flowLet the smell of wild flowers flow free through my blood Let me sleep in your meadows with your green grassy leaves Let me walk down the highway with my brothers in peace. Let me die in my footsteps Before I go down under the ground.

– Bob Dylan

He likes to… Because he is a… – Erin D. Moore

The GueemMay 24, 2006

We buried our cat this morning. The wife and I – me, mostly silent, she, mostly weeping – maybe a word or two about what could have happened. But what really does happen? Life happens. Life and death. That is the deal here. We knew it. The Gueem didn’t. I’m pretty sure he was convinced he was in for the long haul, although no one enjoyed sucking the marrow from the day or the night like The Gueem. He was a furious hedonist. He grabbed every day by the balls and hung on. Then he slept for 18 hours to rest up. So maybe he knew his days were numbered. Maybe he knew this wasn’t any fancy rehearsal. It was all or nothing. He had no savings. He sought no health insurance. He left no will, nor any explanations. He bought the ticket, and took the ride.

His given name was Phoenix, but everyone called him The Gueem. We’re not sure why – because they loved him, maybe. We loved him. I named a publishing concern after him. My wife treated him far better than me or any human she’s known. That’s why he was the coolest cat around, ’cause my wife is the coolest woman around. He was the finest of mammals, affectionate, daring, and carefree. That’s what got him in the end, I think, freedom. He was a roamer and a rambler, and some nights, like last night, he didn’t come home at all – like his long, lost brother and pal, Mr. Kitty, a petulant black male brooder, slayer of all living things, who decided to take a stroll in the Vernon woods five years ago, never to be heard from again.

But Gueem did make it home, barely. He made it as far as the front steps of our porch. That’s where we found him. Not a scratch on him. Mysterious demise. But that’s the way The Gueem liked it, mysterious. He had places to go, dangerous places. This was his instinct, to stroll on the wild side, to poke and prod and climb and tunnel. And he faced it unbowed, all the way to the end. Not the bitter end, not for Gueem. He was all about the adventure and the party. He shied from nothing. He didn’t know he was supposed to be cautious and skittish like a cat, because he was no mere cat, he was The Gueem.

Curiosity is sure as hell going to get me, so it makes sense it got him. But it did not matter. Gueem lived, and so, Gueem died.

Gueem loved cars, so maybe a car got him. He loved kids, so maybe some brat got him. He also had this odd penchant for letting other critters approach him, hoping for a rare glimpse of the other side. He got that trait hanging with me. The Gueem was a journalist at heart. Curiosity is sure as hell going to get me, so it makes sense it got him. But it did not matter. Gueem lived, and so, Gueem died.

Not sure why I find the need to take up column space on this, other than The Gueem deserved it. He brought daily joy to this cynical old shit heel of a scribe. He knew I was a crank, but he seemed to love me anyway. I could see him some nights out of the corner of my eye looking me over, wondering what it is I was doing pounding on these keys, trying to make sense of life’s little insanities. “Why bother?” I can almost hear him say, and then he’d lick his groin and yawn. He had that great cat yawn, you know? Satisfaction. Pure bliss. I never had one of those yawns. You ever have one of those yawns? Never mind that, you ever lick your groin?

It’s hard to believe he’s gone. The wife and I don’t know what it’s like to be together without him. He was a lifer around here. I suppose she’ll divorce me now. I’m always wondering what kept her around in the first place, then I’d see her sleeping over on the couch with The Gueem and I’d sigh confidently – as long as that damn cat is breathing, I think I’ve got a shot to keep her. She doesn’t want to move the little bastard to some new digs, with some other guy. Now, let’s face it, the watch is on. It’s the sole reason I’ll be bolting out of here when I’m done with this and find the best feline vitamins for our female cat, Mazzy. If she goes, I’m toast.

But The Gueem was more than just a marriage councilor; he was the best subject for song and story. Some nights around here you’d think he’d traversed the Matterhorn or passed through the more gripping parts of The Iliad. And as much as it seems like the prattle of a “cat person”, I was sure Gueem loved to hear about himself in these stories. There was an imagination within him, like when he’d follow me to the lake and we’d sit out and let the sun catch our faces at the right angle and the wind swept across our half-shut eyelids. I could write about it, but the Gueem lived it. He had no time for bullshit like writing. He was busy living.

The Gueem was especially unique because he was the only cat I know of who got in the shower with you. He did. Right in the shower. He liked the water, but he liked to eat more. He could eat, boy. Most likely his cholesterol was through the roof. He wasn’t fat, more like thick, but he never came near a salad bar. Food could have done him in, but, trust me, he wouldn’t mind. And The Gueem could snore. No kidding. My wife was always going on and on about how cute and sweet he was, but she was asleep by 10:00 pm, and then, man, when Gueem got going, you’d have sworn some 300 pound drunken teamster had wandered into the bedroom for some shut-eye. Then you’d realize it was The Gueem. He had nightmares – all sorts of mice and chipmunks and things getting away, or a bear chasing him into the woods. Then I’d wake him, and he’d look up at me and yawn, always that beautiful yawn, as if he were the king of the world, and we were paying rent.

Damn, I’ll miss that yawn. Not the snoring. I will not miss any of that creepy shit.

So we say good-bye to our friend, our compatriot, our brother in arms here at the Clemens Estate. He taught us a great deal about living, how to enjoy every moment, and not worry about the small things, because one day you’re out taking in a spring night, basking in the glow of fleeting youth, and then it’s over.

I can hear The Gueem now: Play hard. Fight hard. Love hard. No Excuse. No Surrender. And when they put you in the ground wrapped in a garbage bag, you will rest easy.

Rest easy, little man.

We all loved ya.

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