The Neighborly Way, by Guest Deb Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

Midori by MoonlightWe’d like to welcome as a guest author the lovely Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, whose “delectably frothy” (according to Publisher’s Weekly) novel, Midori by Moonlight, debuted in September. Wendy launches our theme this week, neighbors, with a cautionary tale (or would that be tail?!):

The other morning I found a flyer underneath the doormat on our porch. On it was a photograph of a brown-and-white cat lounging in a bathroom sink. The kitty’s striking green eyes had to have been either the result of enhancement with Photoshop or feline contact lenses in a shade of deep emerald. Oh, dear, I thought. A missing cat. Or, perhaps, one that was found without any identification.

But no, this was something different:

Dear Neighbors,

Our cat, Mambo, has been getting into something like nails, broken glass, barbed wire, sheet metal, etc. Because of this he has been injured three times, which required trips to the vet.

We have looked around our yard and neighborhood and have not been able to find anything that would cause this. For the safety of Mambo and other pets in the neighborhood, could you please look around to see if there is anything that could cause these injuries?

Thanks very much.

Your Neighbors,

Jennifer and Tom Katz

In an article from it’s stated that two-thirds of U.S. households (approximately 71.1 million) have at least one pet, and most people consider them to be an important and essential family member. My husband and I have recently joined this club with our adoption of a kitty we’ve dubbed Meow, a champagne-colored Burmese stray who charmed her way into our household by standing on her hind legs and beating on our sliding-glass door with her paws, starting at five-thirty every morning. Now the former street urchin has become queen of the house, enjoying two squares a day, frequent belly rubs, and a nightly bedtime spot between my husband and me on our king-sized bed. We wouldn’t have it any other way. An important family member? You bet.

Yet I have to say that I was a little puzzled by my neighbors’ plea. Weren’t they acting a bit like these helicopter parents I’ve been hearing about? The moms and dads these days who micromanage every aspect of their kids’ lives: writing their term papers, attending their college freshmen orientations, choosing their classes, their college roommates, etc., so overprotective and hovering that their children have no chance to develop any kind of independence? Who can’t accept the fact that they can’t protect their kids from every calamity life may bring?

Now, there’s nothing more independent than a cat. And a cat that is allowed to go outdoors is even more so. And, yes, it’s a good idea to make sure that there isn’t broken glass or barbed wire running amuck in the neighborhood (kids could get into this too, after all). But who knows where Mambo goes when he’s out on the prowl? He could be making his way down to our local harbor, where all sorts of intriguing things go on that would entice any red-blooded cat. He is obviously drawn to places of danger and likes to live life in the fast lane. Maybe there’s a sultry lady cat who likes to hang out by the barbed wire, calling out, “Here, kitty, kitty.” Unfortunately, if you let your cat out, this is the price you pay. And Mambo, it seems, likes to take a walk on the wild side. I have sympathy in regards to Mambo’s injuries, but the only way to avoid harm is to keep him inside.

Now I’m only hoping that the next flyer I receive under my doormat doesn’t say something like this:

Dear Neighbors,

Our daughter, Dakota, is a new driver and has been in several car accidents. These have caused injuries in which she required trips to the hospital. We have determined that the reason for these accidents is other cars on the road.

For the safety of Dakota, we would like to request that you abstain from driving during the hours of 8:00 – 9:00 and 3:00 – 4:00 when she is commuting to and from school.

Thanks very much.

Your Neighbors,
Karen and Rob Whirlybird

16 Replies to “The Neighborly Way, by Guest Deb Wendy Nelson Tokunaga”

  1. Hi Wendy! Thanks for joining up today! I had to laugh at your neighbors–while I can understand them wanting to protect their kitty, someone needs to tell them the only way to keep a cat from getting into things is to keep it inside! After all, cats do have a reputation for independence…

  2. Hey Wendy – great to see you here. That old saying “Good fences make good neighbours” has a lot of merit, although I suspect wandering Mambo can easily scale fences. I am an animal lover (with two cats myself) but I would find it hard not to write a return note, asking them to keep their darn cat out of your yard’s artfully displayed rusty nails and broken glass. Not to mention the inevitable Mambo DNA buried in your backyard sandy yen garden. sheesh.

  3. Jenny, thanks for inviting me to the debutante ball! I am happy to be here.

    Joanne, I like that saying! But the trouble is that cats can jump those fences. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. hi fellow chick lit looper. you had me doubled over laughing – the next notice you’ll receive will no doubt be a not so gentle reminder that you will be liable for kitty’s injuries should the source of her injuries be found in your yard …. as a long term resident of europe, the absurdity of this notice floors me. i’m used to open manhole covers (and i live in paris, mind you, not a demilitarized zone) and all sorts of raw construction sites on the streets of my busy neighborhood. signs? rarely. the thinking is, if you’re stupid enough to fall into an open manhole, then you get what you deserve. surely there must be a happy middle ground. : ) therese

  5. Hi Wendy, thanks for the post! Love the twist you put on this anecdote with ‘Rob and Karen’s’ note. And really, you’d think after the first injury requiring a vet visit, they’d keep that kitty indoors!

  6. Therese, Bonjour and nice to see you here. Yes, we will probably have to start carrying this type of liability insurance someday. Yikes!

    Thanks, Jess. I’m glad to hear that so far people are agreeing that this note was a little over the top. Sometimes you have to think a minute and say, am I crazy to think that this request is a little much? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Joanne, Yes, zen garden. My husband likes to call Meow’s litter box her zen sand garden. And I need come caffeine too because I repeated right back to you what you already had astutely said about Mambo scaling that fence.

  7. Based on some of the new drivers in my neighborhood I wouldn’t mind a warning of when they are on the road. : ) Thanks for being a guest- it’s great to have you at the dance.

  8. Wendy, what a warm, familiar voice you have that fits right into the Deb Ball. And, as far as kitty’s plight as well as Dakota’s, it sounds like your neighbors subscribe to “it takes a village” policy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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