PLACE: A playground
PEOPLE: Various parents
LADY: My daughter Lucy said the cutest thing the other day. She was eating some applesauce and she looked at me and said, “Mommy, how do they get the applesauce out of the apple?”
ME: My cat eats almost constantly. It’s starting to get a little concerning, honestly.
LADY: Oh. Yes… I, um…
ME: He has this meowing routine. He meows from the other room like six times per day. Right? And I just know that when he starts meowing, he’s hungry again. And I’m like, “Didn’t you just eat?” But he just keeps meowing and I just keep feeding him. Mostly just to shut him up.
LADY: I… uh… I see.
GUY: My son, Nate, took his first step the other day. I’m kicking myself because I didn’t manage to film it. What’s the point of having all these cameras around if we don’t capture these moments?
ME: My cat, William, has been walking since he was born, basically. He’s pretty nimble, too. He walks on the upstairs banister, a lot, and I’m like, “William, be careful!” But he’s usually just fine.
ME: Sometimes I watch my cat’s feet, the way his paws move. It’s really transfixing, you know? I’m sure it’s the same with your son.
GUY: You’re saying I should watch my son’s feet?
ME: [Not listening, staring at my phone] You want to see a few videos of William walking around?
GUY: I, uh… I suppose.
ME: [Scrolling through more than two-thousand cat videos and photos] Here, check this one out. Look how beautiful it is when four paws work in tandem, like a fancy watch.
LADY: Not to brag, but my daughter is incredibly bright. The other day, for example, we were in the backyard and she pointed to a butterfly …
ME: [Interrupting] My cat loves butterflies!
LADY: Does he? That’s… great. Anyway, my daughter — Kylie — she looked up and pointed at a butterfly and said, “That used to be a caterpillar, mommy.” I’m not even joking.
ME: My cat, William, caught a caterpillar once. He chewed on the thing until it was completely mangled. But he was so proud of it and I wanted to support him, not publicly shame him. Right? So I said, “Good job, William.” Even though I was pretty grossed out. And then there was just this mangled caterpillar corpse on the doormat for a week.
LADY: Well… [Pretends to check her watch] I think should be going. I have an appointment.
ME: [Not taking the hint] William is pretty darned brilliant, too. How old is Kylie?
LADY: She’s three.
ME: Yeah, William is definitely as smart as a three year old. They’re probably about the same level of intelligence right now, my cat and your daughter. Isn’t that amazing?
LADY: That’s actually really rude.
ME: How can a fact be rude?
GUY: My kids love dressing up. They refuse to leave the house if they’re not wearing some sort of fun outfit.
ME: My cat actually hates when I put things on him. I made him this little hat, but he kept shaking it off.
GUY: Your cat?
ME: Yes, exactly. He kept shaking it off. And because he doesn’t talk — yet — no, I’m totally kidding — mostly — but because he doesn’t talk, it’s hard to know what he’s willing to wear. Does that make sense?
GUY: Uh… yeah. I think so.
ME: I’m going to try cat booties next. We shall see, my friend! [Deep exhalation] We shall see …
GUY: Well, it’s nice to meet you.
ME: You too. If you ever want to bring your children by for a playdate…
GUY: Oh, you have kids?
ME: Human kids? No.
LADY: I like to bring my son, William, to this park to get some exercise.
ME: [Stunned silence, my mouth agape, my eyes widened]
LADY: What is it?
ME: Your son’s name is William?
LADY: Yes… Why?
ME: That’s my cat’s name!
LADY: Oh. That’s, uh… wow.
ME: What a crazy coincidence! Was your son named after my cat? Ha ha. No, I’m completely joking. But who was he named after?
LADY: His grandfather.
ME: Same with my cat! His grandfather cat is named William, too! He belongs to my cousin. “William the Grandfather,” we call him. He’s three.
LADY: [Nervous laughter]
ME: What a day. Two Williams in one park. What are the odds?
LADY: Your cat is here?
LADY: Our Justine is finally sleeping through the night.
GUY: Knock on wood. Ha ha.
ME: My William has a tendency to climb up onto my pillow and paw at my face.
GUY: Your boy does that?
ME: Yes. He’s adopted. And a cat.
ME: At first, I thought it was cute, but as he’s gotten bigger, I’m a little bit worried that he might claw me right in the eye. You know? Wouldn’t that be a crazy way to lose your vision?
LADY: That wouldn’t be one of our top concerns, to be honest. Justine doesn’t have claws.
ME: [Nodding serenely] Hmm. Maybe I should have a human baby. I’m already a great cat-father. And a human baby probably won’t claw me as much. Right?
GUY: [Long pause, while he stands up and grabs his wife’s hand] Riiiiight.
ME: Good. I’m glad we got this chance to compare notes on parenthood. Now if you’ll excuse me, my cat-son seems to be caught in that tree over there.