Friday, April 16, 2004

Home Improvement with Siegfried and Roy

Yesterday I went to a office and restaurant supply store suggested to me by a friend who runs a catering company. I came upon a cheap piece of butcher block and decided to build my own island for the kitchen. I'd managed to sand down the block to bare wood over the past month and went to this supply store to get price quotes on table legs.

I was thumbing through the catalogs when I noticed a set of pictures of the store owner with a large wild cat. The cat looked like a lynx and in the various pictures was bottled fed, playing in a yard, and nuzzling up to the store owner.

I focused my attention back to the catalogs, looking for the right style legs for my butcher block, when I heard a low purr coming from the back of the store. I ignored it, thinking my mind was playing tricks on me, then I heard it again. I looked up and, having seen nothing, went back to my perusal of the catalogs.

There were two other customers in the store with me- a father and daughter opening a restaurant. They were also looking at the pictures and asking questions. "Is that a lynx?" asked the daughter.

"No, she's an African Serval," was the store owner's reply.

"Where did you see her?" Asked the father.

"Oh, I raised her from a kitten," said the store owner. "She stays here in the store."

I looked up when I heard that. The daughter started to breathe heavy and fidget. The store owner moved to reassure all of us that the cat was harmless.

"If you look up toward the ceiling, you'll see her pop her head out," she said. I looked up and saw a cage on the second floor, then my eyes widened as I saw a high-angled pair of ears perk up above the cage. The cat peered down at the scene in the store, held our collective gaze, and went back to sleep.

"See," the store owner said, "I told you she's harmless."

"You've never had a problem with her," I asked.

She pointed to a certificate on the wall that certified her as a licensed breeder of African Servals. "She's just like any other housecat to me."

"So she's a mouser," I said.

"Don't know. We don't have mice."

I stayed a few more moments, asked for a quote on a sweet set of table legs I found in one of the catalogs, and gave my numbers so I could get the quote. When I reached the door I panicked a bit. Another of the store's employees had locked the door. When he unlocked it I left the store really fast, hoping I could finish my purchase over the phone.

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