Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shaking the Cat, Or How To Predict Marriage

Ladies who wish to divine who among them is soon to marry may try an old method known as "shaking the cat." Take a new quilt, fresh off the frame, and place a cat in the center. Enjoin all unwed females present to stand in a circle and each take an edge of the quilt. On the count of three, quickly lift the edges of the quilt and toss the cat into the air. Take care to catch the feline again upon its return. Do this several times, each time lifting the cat higher. After the animal has reached the rafters, continue to toss it overhead, but allow it to retire from the activity if it so desires. Whoever is nearest the cat at the point where it vacates the textile will soon be wed.

This may sound like a frivolous and unscientific method to predict marriage, but it has been a tried-and-true practice for generations in the Appalachian mountains. I myself have seen it work. My spinster aunt Ada, age 43, participated in one such cat-shaking at a quilting bee, using her own newly completed quilt. I -- a young boy at the time -- was enlisted to supply the cat from a neighbor's barn. All went well until the animal reached the rafters. At that point the cat decided it was tired of the aerial life, and upon its return gripped the quilt deeply with all 20 claws, simultaneously losing control of its bodily functions. The quilt, torn and stained, was ruined. Aunt Ada was furious. She confronted the cat's owner and demanded reimbursement in the amount of one hundred dollars.

"It is," she claimed, "a fair price, as I sold a similar quilt to a New York dealer for the same amount last year." The owner of the cat, a bachelor farmer, refused to pay. She sued him for damages and won. Rather than sell his farm to cover the costs, he married her.

"It seemed the lesser of two evils," he said, "-- at least at first."

So if you wish to know when you will marry, try shaking a cat in a quilt. If you wish to know who you will marry, make sure the cat belongs to your intended, and is full of cod liver oil.

copyright ©2011 Laurie J. Anderson, all rights reserved.

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