With love and all due respect to the homo sapiens in my life, I must acknowledge that Gene Wilder is my best, favorite and just a-smidgeon-short-of-being-perfect, boyfriend.
Self-sufficient, extremely handsome, totally in-tune with my menopausal moods, sympathetic and impeccably groomed, Gene Wilder (NEVER referred to by less than his full name) is compassionate, cuddly and affectionate. A natural athlete, he combines the Olympian skills of diver Michael Phelps and swimmer Mark Spitz; gazelle graceful and with leopard-like speed, he is slender, lithe and elegant. Gene Wilder loves children and other small animals, prefers a simple, hearty diet, and takes pleasure in leisurely strolls, luxurious baths and the steady thrum of raindrops on the roof. Ah, Gene Wilder, my friend, companion, lovely, darling cat.
A ginger kitty with a whimsical face that belongs on a box of oddly named sweets, Gene Wilder is indeed the feline incarnation of Hollywood’s original Willy Wonka. At meal time – when, appropriately enough, a favorite treat is a sliver of ham – he is the quintessential performer, rising on long, agile legs to sing and dance in circles for his supper - just think of that screamingly funny moment in “Young Frankenstein” when the human actor dons a top hat to intently intone “…puttin’ on the Ritz”. Now imagine him in a furry orange set of tail(s) and you know EXACTLY how my Gene Wilder looks.
Asleep, he also channels his human counterpart, once again in acting mode: My Gene Wilder dozes off upside down, with as little of his body weight supported as possible, a constant challenge to the law of gravity. Point of reference? An early moment in Blazing Saddles when newly appointed Sheriff Bart meets the upended town ne’er do well, Jim, portrayed by, you guessed it, Gene Wilder. Kitten Wilder, however, has no stunt double and when the reality hits that gravity works, he tumbles into a jumbled heap of indignant fluff, gives a slightly arrogant toss of his head as if to say “I meant to do that” and then resumes his previously casual posture until it happens again. And again.
At his most adorable, Gene Wilder is overwhelmingly affectionate; nothing takes precedent over making love. Paws begin to knead and stroke, rhythmic rumbles and purrs resonate and his silky face repeatedly buffs and brushes against my cheek and chin. At the height of his most romantic murmurs, he nuzzles my neck in a moment of total abandon, then drools into my ear. I can’t help but wonder if the human Mr. Wilder is equally demonstrative.
Could the orange kitten have been called by any other name? During the early hours of the day he first arrived, we laid flat on our bellies, nose-to-nose, eyeballing one another and memorizing each other’s features. “Fluffy? Tangie? Ginger? Marmalade? ” I mused. “Wilder,” his little voice theatrically informed. “Gene Wilder.”
Interestingly enough, Gene Wilder was not even the actor’s given name. Reportedly, he chose his stage moniker because he “couldn’t see a ‘Jerry Silberman’ playing Hamlet. He admits now that he can’t see ‘Gene Wilder’ playing Hamlet either.” Neither can I see my Gene Wilder playing Hamlet, but I’m certain he would relish anything that had “ham” in it!