|Lyudmila And The
Robert P. Herbst
© Copyright 2001 by Robert P. Herbst
Lyudmila is my wife. She arrived here from her home in Feodosia, Crimea, Ukraine on December 30, 1998 with her son Stanislav through the Orlando, Florida International Airport. We were married in the Swamp County Court House on January 11, 1999.
Having lived as a bachelor for some years, the first thing Lyudmila did was to hit my happy home like a Tsunami of clean. Among the things which needed modification was her relationship with my house cat. Now, at this point one must take into consideration as a bachelor I didn't have a whole lot of time to clean litter boxes and the like. I did it once a month whether it needed it or not. As a matter of fact I was not even conscious of a smell from the litter box until it got pretty bad.
The cat, a gift from a previous relationship, was a tailless but fairly representative sample of an Allycatus Nonspecificus Nedercat. A nedercat is a cat which has been to the vet and is now "neder boy nor girl". The cat had learned to live with the litter box and had never ventured further than a step or two out of the door to my shop which was downstairs from where I lived. I have to admit the litter box odor did get, shall we say, somewhat strong at times.
Within a day or two of arrival Lyudmila announced something had to be done about the cat. While speaking to it in Russian, I watched as she picked up the cat and marched outside to a little sandy spot by the corner of the building. Here she placed the cat on the ground and grabbed its front legs, still speaking to it in Russian, she taught the cat how to dig a hole in the sand as I watched.
Having made the cat dig the hole and explained to the cat in Russian what was expected of it. She picked the cat up again and placed it in the proper position over the hole. She stood back with a satisfied expression on her face as the cat used the hole for it's intended purpose.
Now you must remember this is a cat who historically, would climb into the litter box, dig a nice hole, poop or pea on the floor next to the litter box then sniff at and carefully cover the empty hole in the kitty litter. It was no wonder I never had to clean the kitty litter.
Having completed it's task, the cat looked up at Lyudmila with a questioning glance and Lyudmila, taking the cat by its front legs once more, showed the cat how to cover the hole. Again speaking the whole time in Russian. Not only did the cat do as it was instructed but it seemed to understand everything Lyudmila was saying to it.
The cat still pees next to the hole it digs but the rest of the stuff hits its intended mark and disappears forever. Lyudmila now uses the area as a flower garden and the cat makes sure everything is well fertilized.
This phenomenon was not limited to the kitty litter box, which by the way, vanished the moment Lyudmila and the cat returned inside the shop. It was carried on to the dinner table.
The cat which I called "Cat", for obvious reasons, had a habit of climbing up onto the kitchen table if anyone happened to leave a chair out from under the table which the cat could use it as a step. The cat was too big and fat, at 16 pounds, to jump from the floor to the table top, without a step.
One evening as I sat discussing the days events with Lyudmila while waiting for dinner, the cat jumped from the floor to a chair in preparation to step out onto the kitchen table. Lyudmila turned to the cat, pointed at it with her finger and said in a loud voice, "NYET!"
The cat instantly stopped in mid stride. Lyudmila continued speaking to the cat, in Russian, for a moment. The cat stared right at her, as if understanding every word. It then turned away from the table and gracefully, if a sixteen pound cat can do anything gracefully, dropped to the floor. Lyudmila looked over at me with a big smile and said, "Kotic understand me."
This evening during dinner, Lyudmila did something I had never done, she started feeding the cat table scraps. I had the cat trained to a diet of only dried food and the cat seemed perfectly happy. At first the cat didn't know what to do with the scrap. It just sat there staring at it as if to say, "What the heck is this?"
Lyudmila pointed at the scrap and said something which sounded like, "Naaa!"
The cat moved closer to the scrap of food and sniffed at it. It then looked up at Lyudmila. She said again and a bit louder, "NAA! Naa!"
The cat bent down to the scrap and ate it. I have yet to figure out what, "Naa!" means. However, the cat seems to know and this's enough for me right now.
Later in the evening as we were in bed watching TV the cat entered the room and looked up at Lyudmila. It just stood there waiting as if it expected something. After a moment or two of silence, during which both Lyudmila and I looked back at the cat. Lyudmila patted the bed lightly and said , "Da-Vi Kotic."
Instantly, the cat jumped up onto the bed with us. Lyudmila looked at me with a big smile and said, "See, Kotic understand me." She went on to say in a tone which seemed a bit pensive, "Kotic understand me better than you do."
There are times when the truth hurts, this was one of them. Unfortunately, in us older guys, the learning process is a little slower. However, I made up my mind to learn as much Russian as I could as time went on.
Lyudmila still talks to the cat in Russian and the cat still sits there staring at her as if it understands every word of what she is saying. One of these days, I'm convinced the cat is going to answer her in Russian. At this point I'm out of the loop.
Think about it for a moment, a cat who can speak Russian is one heck of a lot more valuable, to a Russian lady, than a husband who can't speak Russian. I'm in big trouble.
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