Otie Lebowitz - Feline Muse!
Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm a cat of wealth and
taste. I've been around for a long, long time...
No, I am not the devil, and I don't need your sympathy.
I just wanted to get your attention, so you will keep
reading my narrative. Well, it worked didn't it?
My name is Otie Lebowitz, and I am a sweet and petite tuxedo
kitty, of considerable charm and charisma. I also have a
serious penchant for furry mice, and my human webmistress,
Ruth often remunerates me for editorial work I have done
her, by keeping me in a steady supply of those murine
cuties. I really do love mice! But I digress...
I have quoted "Sympathy for the Devil" not just as a ploy to
grab your attention, but also because I was a mistress
of Mick Jagger's in one of my former lifetimes. While cats
are purported to have nine lives, that is actually an
understatement. I can recall at least 15 lives lived thus
far, and there were probably others that have been murkily
clouded in my memory.
Yes, there was a time when I was not only Mick's lover, but
also his muse. You see, I have been a muse to many great
musicians, poets, and authors, in both feline and human
avatars. You probably associate the lovely ballad, "As Tears
Go By", with Marianne Faithfull. However, it was I, Otie
Lebowitz who inspired this song, and I even whispered the
lyrics subliminally into Mick's ear, while he was in the
sweet arms of Morpheus.
Yes, like the aforementioned Lucifer, I have been around for
a long, long time. I do believe one of my first avatars was
as the Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet. My brother, Milo was
King Tutankhamen's favorite feline adviser, although he has
no recollection of his previous incarnation. If truth, be
told, that past lifetime is a bit murky to me - but I do get
flashbacks now and then of that time when I was worshipped
and adored by a multitude of true believers.
However, I recall my later avatars much more clearly, and
thus, have taken quill firmly in paw, to write these memoirs
for your enjoyment and edification.
As I have already mentioned, I have been a muse many times
over. I am not one given to idle
boasting, unlike my brother, Milo, and my rambunctious
feline roommate, Ditzy, who is reveling in her
cyber-celebrity lifestyle. Why that amiable but
self-promoting calico, would go to an opening of an envelope
these days! Ah, once again, I digress...
One of my happiest memories, was when I was one of Ernest
Hemingway's feline companions. While it is true that his
reputation was that of a macho writer, he was really quite
a sensitive man. He was just over-compensating for his true
nature, by bragging both in public and in his fiction.
But I knew him far better, and had an active role in his
literary career. Did you know that originally, Ernest wanted
to call one of his finest novels, "The Moon Sometimes
Rises"! I didn't pull any punches, and told him - "Listen,
Ernest - that is a terrible title! Nobody will read that
book. How about calling it, "The Sun Also Rises"?
Fortunately, he appreciated me for the muse that I was, and
made the necessary correction. The rest is literary history!
One of my favourite memories, was when I lived with Paul
Gallico, the poet laureate of the cat world.
I was the one who taught him all about the time-honored art
of "The Silent Miaow", whereby a cat can speak volumes
without uttering a sound - not a single syllable.
Paul was quite taken with this concept, and at my
suggestion, wrote a book by that title, which has
charmed felines and feline-fanciers alike, for many years,
regarded as a classic. His novel, "Thomasina" was similarly
inspired by yours truly. I even helped him write the first
chapter, and eventually edited the entire manuscript.
Yes, that was indeed a very happy time for me - probably one
of my favourite lifetimes.
Now everyone knows that Thomas Stearns Eliot, wrote a
popular collection of poems, "Old Possum's Book of Practical
Cats". It even went on to become the basis for a
Broadway extravaganza, which became one of the most
popular plays in the history of the musical theatre.
But did you know that Eliot had originally commenced a
collection of poems called "Doggy Do's and Doggy Don'ts"!
I really put my paw down on that one, and fortunately
quashed the idea. I told him "Listen, Thomas - that is the
stupidest title for a collection of poems! Besides, you know
nothing about dogs! Write about what you know - you know
cats, right? Thank goodness he heeded my sage counsel, or
there never would have been any collection of cat poems, and
definitely no musical entitled "Cats". Come to think of it,
Andrew Lloyd Webber owes me big-time. Don't you think I
deserve some royalties for my contribution, which led to
such riches for him? He is ungrateful! I am glad I was never
his cat, believe you me!
Now very few people know this, but I was the favoured pet of
the famous Victorian neurasthenic, Elizabeth Barrett
Browning. The common belief is that she had a cocker spaniel
named "Flush", who had been kidnapped, and even immortalized
in a eponymous novel by Virginia Woolf. True there was a dog
named "Flush", but he was really
stupid. Nothing there between the ears, if you get my drift!
However, it was I who inspired "Sonnets from the
Portuguese". She wrote those sonnets for me, not for Robert
Browning. I was concerned that since I was so charismatic,
I could easily eclipse her in her literary career.
I told her - "Listen, Elizabeth - Don't write about me, and
don't tell anyone I helped you write those poems. Just say
you had a dog named "Flush", who meant all the world to you.
I don't want to get recognition that you justly deserve.
So write about Flush. Unlike me, he's not at all
charismatic, and you, not he
will get all the attention.
Fortunately, Elizabeth listened to me, and wrote about
Flush, and she
got full credit for "Sonnets from the Portuguese, and went
marry Robert Barrett Browning, who adored her poems, doted
on Flush, and was none the wiser!
I really hate to brag, but did you know that I was
responsible for the "Theory of Relativity", which has
attributed to Albert Einstein? I shall explain.
I was one of Einstein's favourite cats. He really loved cats
and related to them better than he did to many humans,
especially of the female persuasion. He just adored his
kitties, and often sought solace in the company of felines.
One fine day Albert said to me "Otie - I am going to write a
book about how the earth is really flat and not round, as is
the common misconception."
Although I knew that Albert had flunked basic algebra, I was
taken aback by this declaration of his.
I knew that if he published a treatise on that theory, he
would be a laughing stock and shunned by the public and his
peers. They would probably evict him from his tony digs at
Institute for Advanced Studies" at Princeton.
What a dilemma! Fortunately, I was there to set things
right. When he asked me for my opinion about his new theory,
I replied, "Albert - everything is relative, you know. At
least, that's my theory!" That night I crept on little cat
feet to his bed and whispered in his ear, "E=MC2"! It's
relative Albert. It's relative. Tell everybody!
Need I say more? Einstein dropped his original project,
wrote the "Theory of Relativity", and achieved recognition
as one of the greatest geniuses of our time.
I am so glad that I was there to help Albert in his time of
need. I generously let him think it was all his idea, since
I truly loved the man, even if he was a bit of a "dim bulb"
Well, I think by now you get the picture. I have been rather
an influential feline in my past lives, and have even
the course of literary history, and even civilization
as we know it today. No too shabby a past, if you ask me...