DAVIS: The parable of the running cat

When I was a little boy, my sister had a black cat. We weren’t a superstitious family at all, so the color was of no consequence to my parents, my brother, sister and me. It was a normal cat. It loved attention, up until the point when it was through with you and walked away.
The best that I recall, it was a happy cat as well. I don’t remember if it was male or female, but the gender is of no particular importance here.
The cat would run and do all the normal things cats do. Sometimes it would get very excited and run off across the backyard. It was at this point that the cat’s joy ended in despair, if cats feel despair.
From the outside, the little black cat looked like every other feline. However, the cat had a secret — a flaw — that those without trained skills could not see.
As the little cat sped off across the yard at full speed, something odd happened. Its front legs would tear at the ground in graceful strides. However, at some point, the back legs became out of sync with the front. The hips and legs of the cat’s hind quarters began to move alongside the front like a sports car passing a minivan on the highway. Within a few strides, the little cat stumbled and crashed.
It stood and walked away, acting as if no-one saw what happened, pretending it fell on purpose. It was a very long time before the cat got excited and jumped out in joyful run. It learned a lesson, albeit a painful and embarrassing one.
In a few short days, Bass Pro Shops will open a new store in Southwest Little Rock, just a stone’s throw from the Saline County line. There will be crowds packing the store, eager to spend their holiday money for several days and possibly weeks. Many Saline County residents will do their best to stuff the tax coffers of Little Rock and Pulaski County. Who can blame them. It’s Bass Pro Shops!
“I wish we could have a Bass Pro Shops in Saline County.” I’ve heard this statement from many people during the years following the announcement of the store and the subsequent construction.
If only.
But wait. Benton had the chance to bring the very same store to its city limits in the early 1990s. That’s right. Twenty-years ago, the cat of progress and excitement shot off across the city landscape, its front legs ripping up the grass.
Momentum built as word of the possibility for Bass Pro to come to Benton. It would be the first step into Arkansas for the outdoor goods retailer. A crown jewel in the county, to say the least.
“I heard we are getting a Bass Pro Shops!” was undoubtedly the statement of the day at the time.
The cat ran faster and faster, nearing a pond full of desirable fish just swimming there for the taking.
“We would like to have a reduction in our utility deposit.” said the bass. “A two-month reduction seems fair. What say you, cat?”
The hind quarters of the cat heard the question and jumped into a higher gear. “Hurry up. We must move to the front. We have to stop the cat before it agrees to help the bass.”
You can guess what happened next. The cat stumbled and fell. The bass didn’t get the reduction and swam away.
The cat regained its composure and walked off, hoping the other cats and its owner hadn’t noticed the lack of body control it exhibited.
Fast forward 20 years. The cat is once again running full steam ahead. So far, it hasn’t stumbled. It has indeed learned its lesson, or so it seems. Remember, we didn’t know my sister’s black cat couldn’t run without stumbling either until it fell.
This time, however, the cat has more owners than just the five members of my family did for our little speedster.
Are they watching?

Brent Davis is editor of The Saline Courier. He can be reached at bdavis@bentoncourier.com.