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Uncle Pang and the onion

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Paul Torgerson knows how his cat, Uncle Pang, used several of his alloted nine lives. He's not sure if an onion falling on the cat's head one night, then splashing him when it bounced in the water bowl may have used up another one.Uncle Pang was a remarkable and beautiful long-haired black cat with the most amazing blue-green eyes. He was about 6 weeks old when he came into our lives and he let us be his humans for a little more than 15 years. I’m sure there must have been some Persian in his genes for he had a bit of the mystery of the East about him.

The “uncle” moniker was the result of his attitude with the ladies; he was a marvelous uncle/father figure to his “nieces” Ping and Pong. Ever the perfect gentleman, he put up with endless hours of kneading and pestering from these two lady cats. My partner, Don, and I sometimes called him “stoic” Pang because he liked to be self-sufficient and didn’t demand much attention (from us, anyway). However, whenever we entertained he literally courted our lady guests.

We have many fond memories of Pang — he lived life to the fullest — surviving a jump from the roof to a block wall fence (he broke a foreleg in the process), an attack by a coyote resulting in two orthopedic surgeries and three steel pins in one of his hind legs as well as a move (along with Ping and Pong) from South Pasadena to Lake Oswego in 1995. How he used his remaining lives we’re not sure, but he certainly brought incredible joy into our lives and we will always remember him with great love.

The following anecdote will always be one of my fondest memories of Uncle Pang.

I had arrived home from work late one afternoon. I don’t remember the year — sometime in the early 1990s so Pang would have been about 7 or 8 years old. As usual, I hadn’t a clue what I was going to fix for dinner. I no longer remember what I decided to prepare but I do remember selecting a recipe based on what was available in our pantry and refrigerator and beginning to assemble the necessary ingredients while I continued to read the recipe instructions.

The recipe called for a large onion. Our kitchen at that time had a second counter along a side wall. There were cabinets above the counter for glasses and storage underneath for canned goods. The cats’ dishes — three for canned food, one for kibble and one for water were on the floor at the far end of this counter. On the countertop I had baskets for storing vegetables: potatoes, garlic, squash and, of course, onions.

I grabbed a large onion from the basket and set it on the countertop and began looking for the next recipe ingredient. Movement caught my eye. In my peripheral vision I noticed that the onion was beginning to roll toward the edge of the counter. Not wanting a bruised onion in my dinner, I attempted to catch it before it fell. I missed.

Uncle Pang, sensing activity in the kitchen around dinner time, had been lurking about underfoot investigating the options left over from breakfast. He had just decided to nibble on some leftover canned food when the (large) onion rolled off the counter. As I watched helplessly, the onion fell.

I heard a loud yelp. The onion had landed on Pang’s head and smashed his face into his leftover breakfast. I gasped. The onion wasn’t through, however. As an affronted and startled Pang looked up to voice his utter contempt at this indignity, the onion, redirected from its encounter with Pang’s head, bounced into the water dish. Splash! Pang got a face-full of water. He was undone.

Poor Pang wobbled about for a bit and finally staggered out of the kitchen, probably thinking the prospects of dinner that evening were very dim. I, in the meantime, was contorted with laughter, tears streaming down my face, wondering if my cat had been permanently damaged, whether he would ever forgive me and thoroughly convinced no one would ever believe what had just happened.

In retrospect, perhaps the tangle with the onion took another of Pang’s lives. We’ll never know. He survived his encounter with the evil onion and eventually forgave me for laughing at his misfortune.

Paul Torgerson is a resident of Lake Oswego.




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