Clyde in a tree.
Thunder Paws had been with us for a little over one month. I was down south, in Maine. It was June 26, 1992 - Rye’s birthday. I called home, to wish him a happy one.
“Dad,” he announced. “Guess what I got for my birthday?”
I made a few ridiculous guesses, all of which were wrong.
“A cat!” he said.
“C’mon, Rye, what did you get?”
“A cat. Well, a kitten.”
“Rye! Please! Do not tease me! We already have two cats. Your mother would not get you another cat. C’mon. What is it, some kind of cat T-shirt? A cat on a cup? What is it?”
“It’s a cat, a real, live, purring cat. Mom didn’t give it to me. Courtney did. Mom likes it. She says it’s cute.”
“You really got a cat?”
“Yes. Are you mad?”
“Yes. Happy birthday.”
I could not wait to get home, and when I did, I found that Rye’s birthday present still did not have a name. The kids were referring to him as “the gas station.” I had not been around the kitten long before the pungent aroma surrounding him told me why. In those early days, he gassed often, and with great potency. So we started to call him “Exxon,” but this made us think too much about oiled otters and seabirds.
We changed the name to Texaco. “I think he looks like a ‘Clyde,’ “ Rye observed one day. Thus, the kitten took on the name “Little Clyde Texaco.” This was a lot to say, so we usually settled for Clyde.
He didn’t give a damn what we called him, just so long as we put out food, which he consumed in copious quantities, this Little Clyde Texaco, our gas station.
A fearsome duo these two:
Little Clyde Texaco and Rye.
When they swagger down the street,
the eyes of big, tough, men grow wide.
Out of respect
these hard guys step aside.
Good mothers run and hide,
and shout to their daughters:
When they see these two coming,
young children are set to running.
The children run! run! run!
Run straight to Rye.
"Hey, big kid," they plead, with pleading eyes.
"Can we pet your kitty?
Please, oh, please!
Let us pet your kitty!"
"Yea, sure," obliges Rye. "Why not?
Just don't pull his tail.
Clyde don't like no one
to pull his tail."