Suddenly, I'm a cat person.
Believe me, this is quite a shock. With some exceptions, every red-blooded American male is educated to have contempt for cats. It's why everybody gets a laugh from the yowling cat scene in Monty Python's "Holy Grail." I was no exception.
Marriage, as you know, changes things.
I now serve as furniture for a 10-year-old orange-striped feline named Annie. If I'm sitting in a chair, the odds are good that she is sitting on my lap. And if I'm sleeping in bed, chances are better that she's resting on top of me.
Even if Annie is nowhere in sight, I'm still probably covered in the 100 or so pounds of hair she sheds every day. Not long ago - this is a true story - I was working out at the Community Building, coughed, and saw a tuft of orange fly out from my mouth.
That's right. I'm the one spitting up hairballs now.
Somehow, all of this is OK, but unexpected.
Until I met my wife, I didn't even know I was a pet person. My family never had pets when I was a kid, except for one brief failed experiment involving a cocker spaniel in a too-small house. I had recently given thought to buying a dog but avoided pulling the trigger because I wasn't sure I wanted the hassle - dog food bills, veterinarian bills, kenneling bills.
Yes, I'm cheap.
There was never a question, though, about whether my wife would bring Annie with her into our home. Even if I'd been inclined to protest, I understood I was getting a package deal: If I wanted the woman, I was going to take the cat.
For the most part, it's been a good deal. In fact, I have found that sitting in the chair and scratching Annie's belly is good at alleviating the day's tensions - kind of like having a warm-blooded, 7-pound stress ball that sometimes leaves claw scars on your legs.
Still, there's all the hair.
One of the fun gifts we got for the wedding was a fancy vacuum cleaner, the kind with a transparent canister instead of a filter. You can watch all the household debris accumulate as you clean.
After a recent run-through, we had what appeared to be a whole cat trapped in the canister. Closer examination revealed that it was merely all the fur Annie had been shedding in the summer heat.
So I'm still learning. There is good news, though: That Monty Python scene. I still think it's funny. There's hope, yet.