Essay: Midnight hair stylist

One night I dreamed that someone was softly combing my hair. It gave me such a good feeling, as when my mother used to do so when I was a little girl.  But this tenderness did not last too long because whoever was in the act suddenly began combing my thin hair around the forehead.  I felt the sharp teeth of the comb in the upper part of my face.  Surprised by this sudden change in the atmosphere, I instantly woke up, opened my eyes and found above my face Taro who was busily grooming my hair.

Taro was a large male Norwegian Forest Cat with a long beautiful coat.  He had been living with me for more than four years.  When I adopted him, he was small enough to fit into my shoe, but was now as heavy as an average-sized, one-year-old infant.  He looked dignified when he walked with his fox-like bushy tail, swaying left and right.  When he was angry, however, he appeared quite threatening for he exposed his sharp fangs which even I found scary.  His tongue was as rough as a scrubbing brush, so rough that I was afraid I would be injured when he licked me. But he was really a kind-hearted and loving companion who at one point, while I was asleep, began grooming my hair which he had apparently considered too messy to leave alone.

Taro’s feeling extended to Tomi also.  Tomi was an abandoned female kitten, perhaps an American Shorthair, I found at the animal shelter near Ferney-Voltaire and brought home as his sister.  She was so adorable that Taro was always trying to cuddle her by putting his right foreleg around her neck.  I often saw him licking her forehead, too.  She was also grateful for his affection, but neither she nor I could tolerate getting our sleep disturbed by his overly eager expression of love.  So she was sometimes annoyed and hissed at him.  I, too, became upset at his behavior and scolded him to quit his act.

Well, I thought Taro had stopped grooming me as I regained my peaceful sleep.  However, when I stood in front of the bathroom mirror in the morning, I found my hair all combed backward like a style that was popular among men in the 1950s.  Sometimes I found myself with a poorly done punk look.  It seemed that he was still continuing with his act, applying his tongue as softly as possible so as not to disturb my sleep.  But couldn’t he do my hair a little more decently?  He certainly required a lot of training if he wanted to keep behaving like a coiffeur. (Translated from the original in Japanese written in 1997)

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