This week Crônicas do Brasil got an exclusive opportunity to interview one of the more enigmatic characters from Fazenda Pau D’Alho: Lao. While lore tells us that Lao came to the farm as a young cat around the time that Dora and Katya were living here, there are conflicting stories as to how he got here and no one will claim ownership of him. After a near decade of living at the farm, it is fair to say that Lao is his own cat and belongs to no one but the farm.
LAO: Thanks for this interview and the opportunity for me to set the record straight. I’ve been very maligned by all this human gossip. First of all, I’d like to correct something in your introduction. I don’t belong to the farm, the farmhouse belongs to me. After all that time where the humans abandoned it and barely ever came to visit, and there I was looking after it daily… It’s my place. When the new human couple moved in a few months ago, I made a point of peeing on their shoes, just to show them who’s boss. They seem to have gotten the point and let me sleep on my couches again, so I’ve stopped.
INTERVIEWER: Sorry about that mistake. Thanks for correcting me. You talk about being maligned. Can you give us an example?
LAO: Well, all this talk about me being a thief. My name is Lao – L – A – O. This whole joke about being a “Lao-drão” (Ladrão = thief) is insulting. I mean, you sample a few plates of sausage, climb up on a few stoves, sneak through a few open windows (and what were they doing open if I wasn’t supposed to come through them is what I’d like to know), open a few pans to nibble a chicken breast, eat one piece of chocolate cake, and suddenly one becomes a thief? Really, if they had the consideration to just share with me when I ask, then there would be no need for me to help myself later. And their reactions! Deus no ceio! See this eye that is a little squintier than the other one? That loud human did this to me, came after me with a shoe after I had eaten his plate of sausage. Uncalled-for, that’s what I say.
INTERVIEWER: Indeed. Speaking of culinary tastes, word has it that you have a very diversified palate.
LAO: I don’t like to limit myself to just cat food. After years of living on your own, you come to appreciate a variety of foods, you know what I mean? Those little chameleon lizards are delicious, particularly their tails. I also like those flying beetles–a toy and a food group in one package! They taste and crunch like popcorn, which is also one of my favorites. Milk and meat, of course, and carrots aren’t half bad. The new humans brought these triangular cheese snacks–Doritos? I’ll confess that I’ll do just about anything for one of them.
INTERVIEWER: Lao, your detractors say that most animals on the farm serve a purpose–the dogs defend, the cows provide milk, the pigs eat scraps, etc., whereas you spend most of your days sleeping and leaving mud footprints on the walls and furniture. What would you respond to them?
LAO: Why does everything have to have a purpose? Those humans hang squares on the walls and put plants in their house. You’re not interrogating them about what purpose they serve. You mention the dogs; they probably started that one. They’re jealous that I get to come inside.
INTERVIEWER: And what about those humans who don’t like petting you because they say you knead with your claws and that you have a problem with drooling uncontrollably? What would you say to them?
LAO: Really? Who says that? What drool problem? I don’t know what you’re talking about. And my claws are lovely; I take time to clean and sharpen them daily. And let’s talk about petting–those humans just don’t understand how to share affection. I try my best to love them; I am all over them each morning and any time that they sit on the couch. Some days I even go so far as to climb on top of their books and computers, just to draw their attention to the things that are really important in life, and they just shove me away. Maybe their mothers didn’t hug them enough when they were little.
INTERVIEWER: So, Lao, it seems like at least you’re getting along well with this latest set of farm tenants. Is this it? Are you content, or do you see yourself doing new things in the future?
LAO: Well, I’d like to try my hand at world domination. Just as soon as I figure out how to open that white box where the humans store the sausage and cream.