Thursday, November 13, 2008

King of the New York Deli Cats

I have shown you all the cats that I photographed during my most recent trip to New York, but I have been in that city before.

Late one night, many years ago, when I still did all my shooting in black and white and Tryskuit and Nabysko still lived at home, I arrived in New York City and checked into my hotel room.  It was late, but I wanted to buy some shredded wheat so that I could eat it for breakfast the next morning. Leaving my cameras in my room, I stepped out of the hotel and then found a nearby Deli just off Times Square. 

In search of shredded wheat, I looked down an aisle and was surprised to see my own, very dear and beloved buddy, the black cat, Little Guy sitting there, sandwiched between a shelf stocked with peanut butter and jam and another with loaves of bread - both white and wheat. I looked a little closer and saw that this was not the Little Guy at all, but another black cat, one who was just a little shaggier than my big-hearted Little Guy.

How I miss Little Guy! It has been seven years now since I lost him! Seven years! And still I miss him!

Delighted and eager to meet this black cat, I stepped towards him. He leapt to his feet, scurried off down the aisle, then slid onto his side and started clawing maddly at some boxes of Riccola, as if perhaps he had a bad cough and needed some relief.

I caught up to him there and we visited awhile.

I then told the owner of the Deli, a man whoose physical features and accent suggested origins somewhere in the Middle East, that my two daughters would be greatly disappointed if I returned from New York City without a photo of a cat. “Would you mind if I came back tomorrow, with my cameras, to photograph this cat?” I asked.

He laughed outrageously. “Sure,” he exclaimed, “you can photograph King.”

But the next day was such a busy one for me that I did not get the chance, and early the morning thereafter I boarded my plane and returned to Alaska. My journey had been an utter failure, for I had not photographed a single cat in New York City. When would I ever get a chance to return to the Manhattan deli?

As it happened, about six months later. After I arrived, before I did anything else, I headed straight to the Deli. The man did not recognize me so again I explained my purpose. Again he laughed loud and long. “Sure!” he again exclaimed, “You can photograph King.”

Again, I found King taking it easy by the bread, peanut butter and jam, and again he scooted off to claw at the Riccola, causing me to wonder if maybe he hadn’t embibed a bit from the cases of IPA Bitter Brew Brew stacked just across the aisle.

King and I engaged each other for the photo shoot and then I went to find the man, to see if he would share some stories about King, but he had left the store.

A younger fellow had taken his place but he was not comfortable speaking English, and I could not even identify the language that he spoke. I can tell you this about King: all who came in the deli were delighted to see him. People can be pretty brusque and rude in New York City, but in that deli, in the warming presence of King, New Yorkers all smiled; King had decreed that all New Yorkers who entered his kingdom must be friendly and pleasant and all happily obeyed.

Next up: See what happens when I go back to the same Deli a few years later.


ML said...

King is certainly a cutie. What a purr-sonality.

Standtall said...

He is sure the King and he loves being photograph

Parker said...

Those are great photos of King!

Daisy said...

It proves that cats make everybuddy kinder and gentler!

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Hmm, a whole deli to himself. We would hang out where ever there were mice...probably by the bread! Daisy's right, cats make everyone smile. Can't wait to hear about King in the years between visits.

Team Tabby said...

You have some great photos of King! Sounds like he can charm anyone, too.

Mindy, Moe & Bono

The Lee County Clowder said...

Hey, G.K., we saw your comments on Beethoven's blog. Feel free to drop in (comment) at the party.

If this is one is anything like Boy's party from last year, cats and other critters (and even beans) will be teleporting in and out for the next couple days.

kalamahina said...

looks just like my long-lost Irie, too.


thanks for the awesome shots and great story. and go ahead and sleep if you need to - that's what all those dark hours are for, after all.