published Thursday, December 5th, 2013

In Tune: The sometimes disappointing reality of being a superhero

About two months ago, I fulfilled my childhood dream to be a hero by rescuing someone from peril, and for once, it wasn’t in a video game.

The recipient of my benevolence is named Harkness, and we bonded pretty much from the moment I saw him and prevented his expiration as a result of lethal injection.

But after snatching him from the jaws of death, I did a stupid thing. I invited him to live with me.

Imagine if Superman put up every Tom, Dick and Harry he plucked angelically from sinking ships and crashing planes. In short order, there would undoubtedly have been a deep hole behind the Fortress of Solitude full of bodies, assuming his patience wasn’t super, too.

I haven’t shared my living space with someone in about seven years, and based on my experience recently, I’m beginning to remember why.

You see, Harkness has proved himself to be the worst kind of roommate. He eats constantly, makes noise at ungodly hours, never cleans up after himself and treats everything I own like detritus whose sole purpose is to be slowly dismantled for his amusement.

Then again, he’s also a kitten. As I look down at hands and arms crisscrossed with bloody battle scars from “playing” with him, I realize that I’m perhaps expecting a bit too much from our relationship.

As most pet owners and parents know, just because you take care of something and love it doesn’t mean it’s going to live up to your concept of what it should be. It might love you back — although I’m beginning to question if cats understand the term — but that doesn’t mean it will “behave.”

In fact, foisting expectations of behavior or achievement on another entity, human or otherwise, is setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment. Far better to accept them for who they are.

I find myself constantly annoyed with Harkness, but I’m finding that I can enjoy my time with him so long as I maintain the proper “zen” attitude toward his antics. The shredded furniture in the apartment isn’t “mine” but rather “ours.” He’s not knocking over the speakers to irritate me; he’s redecorating to suit his tastes. And it’s selfish of me to want him to be quiet at 3 a.m. rather than applauding his skills as a feline vocalist.

Will he mellow out eventually? God willing. Is it likely that he’ll stop needling my nerves with his tiny claws of wanton destruction? Probably not. If I could go back in time, would I still adopt him from the Humane Educational Society? In a heartbeat.

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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