I don’t have an official bucket list. That’s mostly because my contrarian nature would never allow me to have anything that recently exploded into popular cultural as a result of a movie designed to appeal to mass audiences. We are refined, don’t you know? But let’s face it – we all have a few things we would like to do before we die.
One of my greatest wishes for many years has been to see Dominique Lefort and his famous cats perform at sunset on Mallory Square in Key West. Every day at sunset, crowds assemble at Mallory Square to watch various performers such as one man bands, jugglers, unicyclists, and tight rope walkers but mostly they come for the spectacular sunsets. If it’s a good one, it is rewarded with a round of applause from the onlookers.
Dominique has trained domestic cats, household kitty cats, to perform circus acts just like the big cats. He has cats that walk tight ropes, jump through hoops of fire, leap across great distances between platforms far above the ground and generally do things that cats aren’t supposed to do, or at least not on command and not with apparent enthusiasm.
I have something of a history with Dominique. I first saw his act in Key West some thirty years ago. I was amazed and delighted. About ten years later, I was watching a National Geographic special about cats and there was Dominique and his cats in a featured segment. I still remember his response to the interviewer’s question on how he managed to train his cats to do such daunting tricks. “With love,” he said.
When a friend of mine returned from a vacation in Key West last winter, the first thing I asked him was whether the Cat Man still performed at sunset. I didn’t expect he did. I wasn’t even sure he was still alive. “Yes!” my friend told me. “He and the cats are still there.” (It isn’t actually the same cats; they’ve been replaced over the years with new recruits.)
I knew I had to get down to Key West as soon as I could. Who knew how much longer the show would go on?
I arrived today with forecasts of dire weather threatening to make the trip a disappointment. But in the late afternoon the skies cleared and the sun came out. And so did Dominique and his amazing cats.
Scratch one item from my bucket list, I mean, the things I want to do before I go.