The Book – An Ernie Fish Adventure

Cat

I write. About cats, of course. Yes, I am the greatest cat writer on this planet. Go to any bookstore and you will see. Thirty books with my name on them. Ernie Fish, the famous cat expert. Did I mention that I draw as well? Cats, I draw cats. I draw Giri and Garby. I draw cats I met last year. I even draw the cats from my dreams.

Every night after dinner, I sit down to write. Giri rests on top of the desk. Garby puts his head on the computer so that I cannot type. “Shouldn’t we all be sleeping now,” he says. If I ask him to get off my computer keys, he says I should buy him a computer to sleep on. “Beds are not so nice,” he thinks. Giri never tries to explain things to Garby because it never works. I still try. “You strange little boy,” I begin. “Computers are used to write things and draw things. They are not meant to be slept on.” Garby says he still wants a computer bed.

I begin to type. Cats don’t bark was the topic for today. Cats make many kinds of sounds, I write. They can make more sounds with their voices than dogs can. Cats are the best, you see. Dogs bark. Cats never bark. They use other beautiful sounds to talk. They purr. They say meow. Some cats laugh. It sounds like a sneeze. Choo! But yes, I finish the section; you will never hear a cat bark.

Two hours have passed and the chapter is done. Garby and Giri are sleeping on my bed. They take my pillows too. Giri likes to sleep on top of a pillow. Garby spends the night with his legs resting on my other pillow. I don’t say anything to the boys. Cats need pillows. Oh, and they wake up by the time I go to bed.

Time to draw some cats, I think. Maybe I should draw something funny. Like a barking cat. Or I could draw a cat barking at a dog that runs away. I draw and draw until the crows say good morning. “Hello, Mother Crow,” I say. She likes me because she knows that my cats won’t hurt her. The pigeons who live outside my window do not like me or my cats though. Giri tried to eat one of them once. I, being a cat expert, saved the poor bird from a hungry Giri.

I sleep all morning while the boys watch cat cartoons. They watch them all but Tom & Jerry. “A mouse being so mean to a cat,” Garby says. “Tom needs to be a real cat.” The cartoons go on and on. I fall asleep and have cat dreams. Today’s dream was about cheese. Garby and Giri were looking for a missing piece of cheese. They looked under the tables. They looked on the shelf. They could not find the cheese. Then Garby barked at me. Wait! No, he did not. That was the Garby in my dream. I was wrong!

I was sitting up on my bed. My dream had ended when I saw (or heard) the bark. My cat, Garby, was barking. It was not a loud bark, but he was barking in his tiny voice. Giri’s eyes were round. He knew what I was thinking about. “The chapter you wrote last night can’t go in your book,” he said. I had nothing to say. I am the famous cat expert with a cat who barks.

Food for Cats – An Ernie Fish Adventure

I study cats. Before Garby and Giri moved in with me, I studied other cats. I spent hours with cats on the street. Cats in my Uncle Fish’s house. I’ve even spent time with cats in America and Africa. Research, I say. That is what has made me the most famous cat expert you’ll ever meet. Ask anybody who likes cats and they will agree. Ernie Fish? He knows cats best.

This morning, I did an experiment with Giri and Garby. Gugulu came too, but only after the cats went outside to meet their friends. “Boys,” I told each one of them. Here are three bowls of food. Choose any one you like. Giri sniffed the first bowl and ate the cat food. “What’s in the other bowls?” “I can’t tell you yet,” I said. The other two bowls had dog food and macaroni and cheese. Giri went to watch TV in the other room. Garby came next. He looked sleepy. Poor exhausted cat. Garby was too lazy to use his nose. He walked over to the first bowl. “This smells like dog food,” he said. “Try the next one,” I said. He took himself to the second bowl. “This smells like what you eat for lunch,” he said before going to the last bowl. One sniff later, Garby was swallowing the dog food. In all my years as a top cat expert, this had never happened. I tried to stay calm and asked Garby to go watch TV with Giri. “They’re showing Garfield now,” I said. He ran out. Something that only Garfield could make him do.

I wiped my forehead. It was hot and Garby had eaten dog food! Ernie Fish, the famous cat expert, had a cat who ate dog food. Only Gugulu could help. “We’re going out to play paw ball,” Giri said as they jumped out the window. Garby went along to keep Giri happy. “Don’t be too late,” I said. Then I went down to bring Gugulu.

Did I ever tell you that one of the reasons I love cats is that they do not lick your face like the overfriendly dogs do? Well, hear me now then. Today, because I love cats and am such a good cat expert, I let Gugulu lick my face for a long long time. He licked and licked. I waited and waited for him to stop. “I’m ready,” he said at last. At least, that’s what I think he said. I’m still not the best dog expert. Being a famous cat expert keeps me busy enough, of course. Plus, aren’t cats so small and great? You can’t carry most dogs after a few months. Cats are good for the lap. Garby and Giri act like big boys most of the time. But when they are sad, they sit on my lap. See, cats are the best.

Gugulu walked past the dog food. He licked the macaroni and cheese once. “This has milk in it,” he said with a frown. “You know I can’t drink milk,” he told me. I asked him to try the third bowl. I hoped he would hate it and go back to the dog food. Gugulu sniffed and sniffed. His big black nose moved around. His tail started to dance. I watched him eat the cat food. The tail still went up and down. “Gugulu! You ate cat food,” I said. He looked surprised. The tail stopped. Then the dog surprised me. “What will you do now? Your article said that dogs never eat cat food,” he said. I reminded him that it had also said that cats never eat dog food. Thanks to Garby and Gugulu, I was in trouble. Wait a minute! Did a dog just say he read my article about cats? Yes, he had said that. I felt proud of myself. Then I remembered the new problem I had.

Garby and Giri came home all dirty from paw ball games. They saw me looking worried. Garby fell asleep on a chair. Giri sat on the table between my arms. I told him what was wrong. My smart cat said this: Garby has always been strange. Gugulu has been jealous of us for years. He wants to be a cat. That is why he ate our food. What a boy! Giri was an expert too! He was a dog expert and a Garby expert. I am so happy to have famous cats because I’m so famous you see.

Cats Don’t Play Fetch – An Ernie Fish Adventure

CatBeing a cat expert isn’t easy. Nobody knows as much as I do about cats. I have to teach and teach. Ernie Fish is my name. You know that already. I am famous. My cats are famous. My fans are their fans. Who doesn’t know Giri Fish and Garby Fish? They travel to other cities with me. They even go to other countries for special classes. Giri says he likes to go places. “The house gets boring sometimes. Garby sleeps and sleeps,” he tells me.

Last year, we visited an audience in Tailpur. You know, the state that is famous for its cats with long tails? The cats there have tails like monkeys. Tails that are longer than their bodies. Garby thinks that they are not real cats. “We have nice tails,” he says. “The Tailpur cats are not cats.” Giri never liked Tailpur. “Too many cats,” he says. Garby thinks too many cats are better than too many dogs.

Our trip to Tailpur was a disaster. I talked about cats in general. Then I talked about Garby and Giri. Then I talked about myself and how famous I am. Everybody listened but a tiny baby. The baby wanted to be a cat, you see. So he made noises like a cat. He said meow. He said pao. He also said naa. Giri did not like this. “Only cats should be like cats,” he told the baby. Garby was trying to keep his eyes open. Afternoons are for naps, he always says. The baby wanted Giri to talk more and more. He said meow again. When things like this happen, a cat expert can fix it.

“Baby over there,” I said. The baby stopped and looked. “Baby, you cannot be a cat,” I said. The baby’s mother did not like this. “My baby does not want to be a cat, Mr. Fish,” she told me. She added, “His name is not Baby. It is Puppy!” Had I heard right? My expert ears heard this? Puppy? A baby called Puppy who wants to be a cat! Even Garby was wide awake. Giri laughed and laughed. “Baby Puppy! He wants to be one of us,” my cats never laughed so much.

After Puppy and his mother left, my boys and I returned to work. I started to teach my audience about the differences between dogs and cats. I try not to be unfair. So I tell them all the wonderful things about cats and the bad things about dogs. I don’t talk about the good parts about dogs because the class is supposed to be about cats. Cats are the greatest, of course.

“You see, dogs catch sticks if you ask them too. Cats don’t do such easy jobs,” I said. Two people asked me to show them some cat games. “Alright,” I said and took out a long piece of string from my pocket. Garby and Giri stared at me while the class stared at them. I asked the boys to come to me. Neither cat moved. Some people laughed and laughed. Ernie Fish is my name. The cat expert, Ernie Fish. Nobody can laugh at me. Even if my cats are being rude. “I am waiting,” I said to Giri because he was awake. Garby was on his back with paws in the air. Giri said he was tired of doing the same trick everywhere we went. I told him we would discuss that after the class but he said no. I did what any cat expert in my situation would do. I sat on the floor between the boys, string ready. After Giri turned his head the other way, I knew what to do. So I made the string dance around him. Cats love to catch moving objects. Giri began to play. He grabbed the string and rolled around with it. I took the string away and put it on sleeping Garby. Garby lifted his head. “Cats need sleep,” he said, and closed his eyes again. My class thought Garby was sick. “Mr. Fish, why isn’t the cute cat playing with you?” Again! I could not believe it. Giri looks like a doll. Why doesn’t anybody ever call him anything more than grumpy? I ignored the rude question. Giri had fallen asleep with the string in his paws and inside his mouth. “So you see class. Dogs catch sticks but cats play with string,” I finished. But somebody wanted to see more. “Mr. Fish, what will the cats do if you throw sticks at them and say ‘fetch’? I looked at the boy and told him what any cat expert would say: Cats never catch sticks. They hate sticks. “Show us. Show us,” asked the class. So I sprinkled some water on lazy Garby’s face. He woke up. Cats don’t like water, of course.

I, Ernie Fish, threw a stick at Garby. He let it fall. The class clapped. Somebody asked me to try again. This class thought it was very smart. Nobody can be smarter than a cat expert and his cats. Everybody knows that. To move things ahead, I threw the stick again. Garby placed one pink paw on it. Now it was Giri’s turn.

“Hey Giri. Fetch I say!” The stick landed straight into my cat’s open mouth. The room was quiet. I wanted to run away. It would be all over the newspapers tomorrow. ‘Famous Cat Expert’s Cat acts Like a Dog’. My future was doomed. Giri played fetch with me – in front of seventy people.

The room filled with mean laughter. My students for the day could not stop laughing. Garby moved his ears this way and that way in tune with them. “Giri! What have you done?” I took him outside. Garby followed us. “You boys never played fetch before,” I said. “Besides, you aren’t dogs!” That last line made them cry. The little sad voices said sorry. Garby promised to stay awake. Giri said he would never touch a stick again. I hugged my cats. We decided to leave Tailpur without finishing the class.

The Cute Cat – An Ernie Fish Adventure

Cat

It’s time for my first cat and dog class. Garby and Giri are waiting in the car. They like sitting next to me while I drive. I have come to get Gugulu, who has had an early morning bath it seems. His long hair is combed too. “Are you sure the cats won’t pull his tail?” My neighbour did not know a thing about cats. I said I was sure and left with Gugulu. The silly boy thought I was taking him for a walk. I have never walked with Gugulu. I never wanted to. Garby and Giri know when to go out and walk themselves. See, cats are the best.

When Gugulu and I reach the car, the boys are rude. They both turn puffy and ask me if I want them to go. Garby adds, “I can’t believe you did this to us.” I tell them all to be good for three hours. Gugulu likes cars. He ignores Giri and Garby because he finds the people outside more friendly. He is a cute dog. People wave to him and ignore my cats. My feelings are hurt. I pat them on their heads and tell them they are better than Gugulu. “Dogs are not cats. Cats are the best,” I say. They say thank you and Gugulu says he will not help me ever again. Dogs!

That day, I missed Potlee and her fan. I also hated cats for a while. Garby, Giri, and Gugulu made the class laugh. They laughed and laughed at me, the famous cat expert, Ernie Fish! I listened to them laugh and thought I should write cat books. I have already written many. Did I tell you that? I could write more and more and never have such a day again.

The first part went well. Gugulu and my boys were as rude to each other as cats and dogs should be. According to my research, I mean. He growled. They turned into little balls. Garby said “hiss”. Giri began to tell Gugulu the history of cats and dogs. “We are always the hardworking ones,” he screamed. Gugulu’s voice became louder. “Say sorry,” he said. My students were watching and listening. Some of them whispered about the ‘cute cat’ – Garby. People always say he is a good looking cat. Giri is a handsome cat, but he can be rude. Still, he is MY cat. I think he is the best. So is Garby, of course. They are both the best. I am the best cat expert with the best cats!

A curious student asked, “What are they saying to each other?” I told them. I saw twenty pairs of eyes looking at me in silence. Somebody asked, “You know twasheir language?” I, Ernie Fish, said yes with pride. The students clapped while Gugulu and Giri continued to fight. Garby was quiet. He was busy sleeping behind Giri. “Why is the cute cat sleeping?” I did not like this student at all. Nobody can call Garby cute cat twice and make Giri feel bad. “The cute cat has a name. Garby,” I said. The student showed no interest in the name. The time had come to end the silly fight because Giri was known to pull dogs’ noses if they made him very angry. “Class, watch me.”

I took out the fish. The smell woke up Garby. His eyes were wide open before I could put the fish into bowls. Giri was on the desk where I was opening the can. He never had good table manners. Gugulu stood on his feet and hugged the desk. “This is a fun circus,” I heard a student say. No it isn’t! No it isn’t! I wanted to scold the boys and Gugulu, but they would cry in front of everybody. I am a famous cat expert so I knew what to do. I gave them their fish and bowls of water. Poor cats. Too much attention can annoy them. I’m not a dog expert, in the full sense, you know, but Gugulu was not the best dog. He needed a haircut. Long hair makes dogs dislike cats. They wish for short hair and small, pointed ears. Cats really look the best.
I sent Garby and Giri out for a walk. “Don’t get lost,” I said. Gugulu and I went for a walk too. “Get my leash,” he said. The student who called Garby ‘cute’ wanted to walk with us too. “Mr. Fish,” she asked. “Yes?” She was nervous. Her cheeks were pink. A shy girl it seemed. Then she said something that nobody has ever said before. “May I take the cute cat home?” I stopped walking. Gugulu barked. The student’s question had surprised him. I thought the girl was funny. “No, you may not,” I told her. She started crying and crying. The other students came running. A teacher came too. Garby and Giri were there too.

“What is wrong?” The teacher asked me and Gugulu. I said her student wanted my cat. “Which one, Mr. Fish? The cute one?” This teacher was as rude as the student! “My cats are called Giri and Garby,” I said. “And they are both cute!” Giri licked his paws and looked proud. Garby was fast asleep behind him.

The teacher asked me to give Garby to the girl. I said no. A cat expert does not give away his cats. These people were strange. The girl cried loudly and came to Garby. “Stay away,” I said. She picked him up. The poor boy woke up. He yawned three times. “Give him back to me,” I said. The student said no. I said yes. She said no again. Giri and Gugulu sat and watched. They licked their paws clean. I wished they would speak up. I’m a famous cat expert. Not a human girl expert. The teacher asked me to leave. I said the class was not over. He said I must go. Garby yawned again. “Give me my cat,” I said. The girl started running away. I saw danger and ran after her, Gugulu’s leash in my hand. So Gugulu and I ran. Giri watched. And Garby stopped yawning. The teacher ran too. He wanted us to leave. I was not going without my cat!

I left the rude class and the unfair teacher after Garby jumped out of the girl’s arms. The boy sometimes goes in the wrong direction, so he ran into Gugulu. I picked him up with one arm and pushed Giri into the other, before we drove away.

Meet Ernie Fish

Cat

Hello there! A big meow to you. You must already know that I’m the world’s best cat expert. Ernie is my name. Some people call me Aronie – my other name – but I teach students all over the world, so Ernie sounds best. Yes, call me Ernie. The cat expert, of course.

Now let us get straight to business. What would you like? I can tell you anything you want to know. Should I speak to your friends in school about the greatest creatures on earth? The cats, of course. Or do you want my help to make your cat be a good boy or girl? Tell me now so I can make sure that Garby and Giri are not busy that day. Who are they? My cats, who else?

When I was growing up, my parents would ask, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I always knew. “A cat expert,” I would say. What is that, everybody asked. How could they not know? Had they not heard of the famous cat teacher called Kitty Purr from 50 years ago? She taught people how to talk to cats. She even taught cats how to make friends with humans.

I, Ernie Fish, am the new cat expert. Oh, I have two cats. I may have mentioned them before. Did I? Sorry if I did. You see, they are the best cats and I love them more than you love ice cream. My cats are not cat experts. Call them milk and fish experts if you will. Garby can smell fish in his dreams. Giri wants milk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My cats are famous boys – because I’m so famous you see.

Garby was not famous until he met me. He worked as a cat guard at the cheese shop. The customers liked him because the mice were scared of him. They even gave him cheese. But you know what? He needed love, not cheese.

One day when I went to the cheese shop to study him – you know – and take notes on cats, Garby rubbed his face on my leg and followed me home. He wanted to live with somebody famous. Alright, that wasn’t true. Garby wanted something that wasn’t cheese. He also felt bad about so many people – the mice- disliking him. I asked him to tell me what was making him sad. He moved his paws up and down. His tail hung. The whiskers moved. Garby looked happy after we talked. Yes, I’m a cat expert. I talk to cats and cats talk to me.

So Garby stayed and worked very hard. He has a job you know. Being cute every day and sleeping in different ways isn’t easy. Sometimes he puts his legs on a pillow and his arms up in the air. In the night, he has to share my pillow until I roll over. Only a cat expert like myself knows these things.

Giri has always been the smart one. One day, I opened my door to get my cat book from a student, and there he was! The best cat for a cat expert! Giri walked through the door and went into the kitchen. “What a smart cat,” I thought. A cat who walks up five floors and goes straight to the kitchen, can be Ernie Fish’s cat.

Oh, Garby was not too nice. No, it was not his fault you see. If you were a cat expert, you would agree. Just imagine a new person who looks a bit like you comes in and eats fish. He drank milk too. Garby made himself puffy like a furry ball. He told Giri that it was his house. Giri lifted up a paw and slapped poor Garby. I, an expert at stopping cat fights, asked them to be friends. “Garby, this boy can teach you some new things. You know, being smart,” I said. Garby did not like my idea, but he stopped being puffy. The next day, they played paw ball with me. Did I mention that I wrote a book about cat games? I invented paw ball. You see, it has one goal. It is a goal that the cats share. Sharing is good.

Tomorrow, I have to teach people about cats. The silly thing is, the school wants me to talk about dogs too. I love cats. Dogs, of course, I know everything about. But I’m a famous cat expert, not a dog expert! “Bring your dog too,” the principal said. I can’t believe it. He thinks I have a dog! Doesn’t he know that Garby and Giri cannot stand the sight of a dog? There’s Gugulu, the hairy dog downstairs. Any dog expert would know that he shouts, “go away, cats!” Sometimes I think that people want me to be a dog expert too. I must tell you about Aunt Tuna’s dog. Her name is Nosy. A good name for her I say because her nose is longer than her tail. Aunt Tuna is smart.

When I visited Aunt Tuna last summer, Nosy sniffed and sniffed me. Garby and Giri did not go with me, but Nosy had a dog’s nose. She knew who I was. I guess Ernie Fish is a name that all dogs know. So Nosy said hello with her nose in the morning. In the night, she said goodbye with it. It wasn’t my fault. The greedy girl wanted my chicken steak. I was nice to her even though she isn’t a cat. I threw her a piece or two. Nosy didn’t want to share! My Garby and Giri shared everything. The sofa. The bed. Packets of food. Cats really are the nicest. I tried to tell Nosy that she should be more like a cat. She did not care for my wise words. Five minutes later, my plate was under her nose and my steak, in her stomach. Aunt Tuna gave me mean looks. “Please give the mean looks to your long-nosed dog,” I said. When Nosy took my apple cake with her nose, I was ready to leave. I am a famous cat expert. A dog cannot behave like this with me. Aunt Tuna said I should stay at home with my cats. Nosy pushed my suitcase to my taxi – with her nose, of course.

Tomorrow, I was taking Gugulu with me. The neighbor was scared. A car with Garby, Giri, and Gugulu, meant trouble. Not for the best cat expert in the world, I said. I knew the boys would be as good as famous people’s cats should be. Besides, I have faced more trouble than that. There was this cat called Potlee who disliked fans. Whenever my friend, Raj Sardine, switched on the fan in his room, Potlee cried and looked up at the ceiling as if the fan was a big, barking dog. Raj hugged her and petted her. He said please. Scared Potlee said no. Then she screamed at the door, calling for help. Raj let her outside and went back to bed. A second later, Potlee cried at the door, asking him to come outside too. My poor friend called me to the rescue. “You look terrible,” I said. “I have been sleeping outside for three nights,” he said. My friend would be fine. The cat expert was here!

Potlee was my worst student. In all my years of cats, this girl made me shout. Nobody has seen me shout. No matter how nice I was, Potlee stood crying loudly at the door. “I will not let you go outside,” I said. My eyes were closed. This was happening all night. Potlee scratched the door. She scratched and scratched. Suddenly, I knew. “Raj, sardine,” I said. My friend shouted on the telephone, “yes, that is my name, Ernie.” “No. I need some sardines here. You know, the fish called sardine,” I shouted back.

As Potlee cried at the door, Raj slipped some fish through the window. He was confused. I asked him to wait and turned the fan off. When the fan stopped moving, Potlee looked happy and fell asleep. I stood up on a chair and put the fish on top of the fan. I sat down next to Potlee and let the fan on again. Fish landed on Potlee. Then it flew onto me. Potlee was awake. She swallowed the fish and stared at the fan. No more fish fell on her or on me, but Potlee never cried at the door again. Every night, will my friend sleeps in the cool room she looks up at the fan. “I’m still waiting,” she says to me when I visit.

Makeup & OCD

She had twelve minutes. The car was two floors down from the makeup counter. It would take at least five minutes at the check out line. “Aargh,” she said loudly. Maybe she should just wait for tomorrow when her schedule wouldn’t be so tight. Or maybe, she shouldn’t. With just ten minutes left on the clock, she was filling her hand with strokes of lipstick. The girl at the counter had suggestions. She had no time. It was a battle between the Royal Pink and Rustic. But then she had just five minutes left. So she decided to not decide, and walked out satisfied with both. Plus, she reached the car before her alarm screamed.

His Eyes

She liked his eyes. They said something to her. Eyes were important. When he spoke to her, she read his eyes instead of listening to his words. Every time their eyes met, she felt naked under his gaze. It wasn’t about the body, as much as it was about the depths of her heart. His eyes spoke volume. They didn’t need to talk.