Last week, my brother-in-law's beloved, serene, ragged-eared, adoring cat died, very suddenly and in a traumatizing way. Banana was one of those cats that in his lifetime, becomes a legend. A round, forever-peckish, unsuspecting legend. People who'd never met him had heard of him; people who had met him were struck by his almost hard-to-believe lovability. He suffered through years of hardship as a street cat, and then found himself surrounded by welcoming laps and edible delicacies in his later years. If Peter's tribute to Banana does not cause you to cry just a bit and gaze at your own pet in desperate wonderment, please don't tell me so, because I would have to stop liking you and tell everyone else to stop liking you, too.
The fact that life can take you from severe deprivation to offerings of curried chicken and half-and-half, and that it then ends inevitably in death, has led Peter to develop the "Life Sausage" theory:
"You can live a hundred years if you never leave your home, never eat fatty foods, never risk love or sex for fear of failure and STDs — and your life sausage will be one long, emaciated pepperoni-stick of misery, hyperextended along one axis but barely registering on the others. You can fuck everything that moves, snort every synthetic that makes it past the blood-brain barrier, dive with sharks and wrestle ‘gators and check out when your chute fails to open during the skydiving party on your sweet sixteenth. Your life sausage will be short but thick, like a hockey puck on-edge, and the sum total of the happiness contained therein will put to shame any number of miserable incontinent centenarians wasting away in the rest home. More typically the sausage will be a lumpy thing, a limbless balloon-animal lurching through time with fat parts and skinny parts and, more often than not, a sad tapering atrophy into loneliness and misery near the end. But in all these cases, the value of your life is summed up not by lifespan nor by happiness but by the product of these, the total space contained within the sausage skin."
He provides the following illustration of different kinds of life sausages:
My elaboration involves the peculiar behaviour of life sausages in close proximity to one another. (This is when I reveal how simple-mindedly philosophical I can become in the face of grief.) When Banana began a new, warm, well-fed, much-loved chapter in his life, his sausage grew fat and meaty and enviable. But his presence in our lives, the clear evidence of his own generously-sized sausageness, also caused our sausages to grow and develop and swell in response. He made all our sausages bigger.