Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I’ll warn you before we get too far along, our relationship doesn’t stand a chance if you don’t get along with my panther. I’ll know within seconds whether or not she likes you. A simple blink of her eye or swipe from one of her mighty black paws can speak volumes. Who knew the king of the jungle was also the king of judging character?

Before you meet her, I’ll let you in on some inside information: She can smell fear. A lot of women I’ve dated get frightened, even soil themselves, when my panther locks eyes with them and circles their chair. It’s so silly. I always tell them to just stay calm and let my little girl get to know you. Let her sniff you and lick your body. It’s her way of getting comfortable with your scent. And my way of getting comfortable with you. With us.

Interestingly, I’ve found that women who have cats seem to do better with my panther. If you think of it, she’s a big version of a cat—just undomesticated and in the U.S. illegally. Speaking of which, ixnay on the antherpay, if you know what I mean.

My panther is very territorial by nature. Like most panthers, she’s used to having several square miles of land to patrol. Now with just 450 square feet to work with, things are a little tighter. The same guidelines apply, though. For example, if you were in the mountains and saw a panther on a rock, you wouldn’t go over and sit on the rock with them, would you? Same thing with the couch. If she’s lying on it, just sit in the chair instead. Unless she’s got a paw draped on that too, then maybe stand for a little while.

Hearing my panther purr is a great sign. It means she’s content and happy. Unless it’s a low, guttural purr, then it means she’s agitated and/or furious. It’ll take a while for you to hear the difference between the two, but you’ll get it.

The social structure of panthers in the wild is one of solitude. My panther is no different. She doesn’t like packs or large groups. Which isn’t a huge deal except around the holidays. Sorry, here I am being all presumptuous about us—it’s only May. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, O.K.?

To help put you at ease before you meet my panther, let’s go through a few situations you might find yourself in. For example, if she’s stalking you around the apartment, should you run? Not unless you want her to chase you. Granted, I haven’t seen you move, but my money’s on my panther. I’ve seen her take down a sprinting elk from a complete standstill and sever his jugular without breaking stride. Now that’s fast! If you’re being hunted, simply lay down in the fetal position, cover your head as best you can and try to stifle your sobs until she walks away. So basically … do nothing! How easy is that?

Because of certain legalities, I can’t let my panther out of the house to relieve herself. The good news is I taught her to use the bathroom. The bad news is, I couldn’t teach her to knock. As long as you’re not super-private, I don’t foresee this one being much of a problem.

Speaking of relieving oneself, you may stumble on a few mason jars around the apartment filled with urine. Nothing to worry about. It’s mine. Just a little system I’ve developed to let my panther know whose territory is whose around here.

If our relationship progresses and we find ourselves engaged in coital activities, there is a chance that my panther will climb up on the bed and watch us. I guess it ignites a certain primal instinct in her. No reason to panic. Girlfriends who have been successful in the past just relaxed and let my panther do her thing. She’s just a curious old gal.

Lastly, before you come over you might want to pick up some food for my panther, you know, as a gesture of friendship. Preferably a live feral hog or a raccoon if you can get your hands on either. Trust me, it’ll go a long way with her. Plus if she’s well fed, there’ll be much less chance of an incident during your visit.

I’m so excited for you to meet my panther. You’re going to love her. And she’s going to love you. Hopefully we’re still on for grilling in my backyard this Saturday. I can’t wait to see you in the helmet and goggles and metal gloves I sent you. You’re going to look adorable. Oh, and don’t wear any perfume. See you Saturday!

Colin Nissan is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. When Colin isn’t hawking needless goods as an advertising copywriter, he’s writing other things, like humor essays. Some of which can be found on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. His first book, Don’t Be That Guy, is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2009. Check out his various sundries at colinnissan.com.

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