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Babka

June 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I used to have a better cat. A real one. One that I wouldn’t have to bring in to be re-furred every six months.

When I bought this one, my current cat, the box said, “Just like real!” It said, “You won’t know the difference!” It said, “Warranty guaranteed with dissatisfaction!” It said, in curly, funky-looking letters that I suppose were meant to be playful and lighthearted, “CyberCat Inc! Less mess, twice the pet!”

I never did return this, my current cat. I couldn’t be bothered, honestly. What’s two-hundred and seventy-five dollars.

My previous cat, the real one, with real fur and actual internal organs and organic flesh rather then high-tech cyberskin, had this silly habit. When she purred, I mean really purred, really got into it, she would open her mouth just right so that every purr would be accompanied by a soft ‘click’ noise. Like she was resetting.

When I went into the Cybercat workshop to specify to them the specifications of my old cat, I told them about this, Babka’s ‘Click’. I made sure they knew it was very important. They looked at me.

“Be more specific,” they said.

“She opens her mouth just the right way,” I explained helpfully. “Makes a ‘click’ noise. Can you work that in?”

They (‘they’ being two Cybercat Inc engineers, a very tall, burly one and a short, shrimp-like one) looked at one another. Then they looked at me and nodded. Then they gave me a bill for my down payment.

The new Babka makes a click noise, but I’m pretty sure it’s recorded – it is unsettlingly loud and assertive. Once, back before I took the new Babka into the shop and asked them to make her less lively, new Babka ran into a wall, and for a few days the ‘Click’ wouldn’t work properly. She would just part her little lips slightly, let out a long puuuuuuurrr and then pause with her lips like that for a split second, making no sound at all. And sometimes, she would wander round the house, clicking all the way, but mouth shut tight and seemingly unaware that it – she – was making any sound at all. So it was rather more like having a metronome then a cat. I admit that, during this phase, I once or twice set her on top of the piano and sat down to play a tune or two. Did I feel a little bad? Yes. I’m not sure why. My furry friend is, after all, simply an aluminum skeleton replete with state-of-the art elastic/wire ‘muscles’, and cyberskin implanted with authentic cat fur, which can be grown in a laboratory in a snap nowadays.

The new Babka is also a little bit stiff. Relatives have informed me that I should stop whining, because after all technology just isn’t there yet, and we are lucky to have what technology we do, since not only does it save lives, but it can also console the sad by replacing their deceased beloved pets, and anyway CyberCat has done a great job and will you just stop whining about Babka already! But I swear to God, the pretend Babka has all the fluidity of a tank. At least compared to the original Babka. Don’t get me wrong, new Babka never misses her mark when, say, jumping up onto a windowsill, or rubbing her little diamond-shaped head all over my shin, or scampering about chasing a wind-up mouse, but something about it just looks… off. Planned. Designed. Aluminum and elastic webbing. Gears and wires. Not that the new Babak doesn’t look exactly like the old Babka. It – she, I guess – does. I guess I am just having trouble getting used to this robotic thing, this technological wonder, that I am supposed to pet and call ‘Babka’.

I miss Babka.

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