What made Brutus so awesome? One thing: he had no "meow."
I had lots of odd jobs during the summer in Houston Texas. Starting at the age of 11 or 12, I would make flyers for my odd-job services and walk them to the houses in my neighborhood. My services included: small repairs, leaf raking, yard mowing, weeding. But, as I recall, the best jobs were house sitting or pet sitting for neighbors while they were out of town for various summer trips.
Once, I took care of a family’s little spaniel puppy. As I recall, the little pooch was probably 10- or 11-months old; so, he wasn’t a little baby, but still pretty young. I would go over two or three times a day and play with the little fella, feed him, make sure he had fresh water, etc. It was an easy, fun gig. I probably made $5 per day. The family insisted that he be kept outside. Oh yeah, they also had a shallow raised brick fountain. One morning, I arrived dutifully to care for the puppy, and he didn’t greet me as expected. Whoa!? “Did he get out?” I wondered and probably asked out loud, too. I looked all over. Finally, I saw the dog’s body floating on top of the water. He was clutching the decorative center statue base. Fearing the worst, I waded into the fountain and grabbed the little fella. Even though it was summer, he was cold from the exposure. Who knows how long he’d been in there. It took a little time, but turns out he was fine after I got him out, and he warmed up. His tummy was bloated from excess water, and his back paw nails were worn down to the quick from frantically trying to jump out of the fountain. The fountain floor was concrete. That was quite a day.
That wasn’t at all what I was going to write about when I decided on this blog topic and song. In fact, this blog post is about pet sitting for Brutus the Meowless Cat. That puppy pet sitting episode came to mind incidentally as I was thinking about Brutus the Meowless Cat.
Brutus was an awesome cat. I probably took care of Brutus five or six times. Once, Brutus’ owners went to Vegas on vacation and won big. Instead of $20-$25 for a week of sitting, they gave me something like $200. Wow! That was an awesome surprise. But, back to Brutus. What made Brutus so awesome? One thing: he had no “meow.” He was the meow-less cat. He would open his mouth and attempt to meow all the time, but there was no noise. Sometimes I could listen carefully and hear the sound of his mouth opening — like a little smack sound — but no noise. Funny as hell. Brutus was also very affectionate, which was nice too. I always loved pet sitting with Brutus the Meowless Cat.
Oh yeah…, did I mention that the teenage kid in Brutus’ household had an awesome record collection? So, I used to like spinning records while taking care of Brutus. Surely Brutus appreciated the additional stimulation, right? It was during one of these record spinning sessions, that I first heard the music of Quicksilver Messenger Service or “QMS.”
Never heard of them? It’s not too surprising. But don’t be fooled. These fellows were very influential. They were a 1960s psychedelic band from the San Francisco scene. They used to headline and play venues right along side with The Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. But, for some reason, they never escaped the early 1970s, from the perspective of lasting influence. Some say, The Jefferson Airplane and it’s follow-up incarnations didn’t fare much better, at least from a respectability stand point.
QMS has a bunch of good tunes including great versions of Bo Diddley’s classic, “Who Do You Love” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning.” But, my hands down favorite is “Fresh Air,” which also happens to be their only commercial hit. On day, while caring for Brutus the Meowless Cat, I recorded the tune from vinyl onto cassette, and I wore that tape out.