I grew up in Vista, a small California town. It was a lovely little corner of the universe in which to be a child.
Ray, who lived across the street from us, had been a Navy fighter pilot during World War II, and his need for speed surfaced from time to time.
In our town, Ray's penchant for going fast was somewhat satiated by his driving a Jaguar sports car, possibly the only car of its kind in our handsome little hamlet. Surely, Ray thought, he had the fastest "cat" in town.
Ray's family - a wife and four kids - was complemented by the addition of Dinky, a humongous black male cat.
Dinky had earned his moniker honestly: He had been the smallest kitten in the litter. By the time I met him, however, he was at least 15 pounds of sprawling black cat and nowhere near "dinky." And because of his size, he usually slept wherever he wished. No one dared gainsay a cat that large.
One Saturday morning, Ray had to take his Jaguar for a spin, so he jumped in the car. Because we lived on a small, one-lane street, he started by driving slowly.
Sleepy-eyed neighbors emerged from their homes to point at the car in wonder.
Ray drove on wearing a huge grin, sensing that the neighbors thought he looked pretty cool.
Ray made a left turn onto Escondido Avenue. Since it was two lanes wide, he could drive a little faster.
He sped up. More neighbors pointed at the car - and they pointed with greater vigor. Ray grinned. He was certain people were pointing with awe at his "cat," his Jaguar.
He turned left on West Vista Way, where he could drive even faster.
Now townspeople were pointing at the car and calling to him very energetically.
But Ray did not catch their sentiments as he sped up to about 45 m.p.h. He sat back and enjoyed his drive. It was a lovely, sunny day. Somewhere near the bowling alley, Ray decided to open up the sunroof.
But instead of letting in a flood of sunlight, in plopped a 15-pound ball of fur. Apparently, Dinky had been napping on top of Ray's Jaguar. Dinky had been rudely awakened by his morning drive.
Fortunately, the cat had had the wisdom and ability to hang on for dear life.
With his cat safely in the car, Ray turned around and headed home.
Perhaps Ray realized that, at that point, Dinky was the fastest cat in town.