Meet Ernie Fish

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 whenever I visit.



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