Episode Nineteen: Teammates


Each morning I try to wake up, feed Virtute and Gumption, make lunch for Jenny and make a homemade “Mind Over Matcha” for myself, and then I get to writing.  Gumption usually spends this time playing or watching the birds from the window sill, but Virtute is all business.  He normally sits in the chair beside me or lies next to my computer and works through some of the issues I am having while I write (from insecurities to writer’s block to searching for a reference). 

It’s really helpful to me, but today was the first day I asked him why he did it.  As is his shtick, he sat on the question for a while before answering. Finally, waiting for me to type a sentence, he spoke up: “I dunno, partly I find it sort of fun to have a bit of intellectual stimulation in my life. I like the fact that you don’t just treat me like a piece of furniture or a play thing. You challenge me and respect what I have to offer.  Also, you are always going on and on about being “teammates” with people. Teammates in baseball, teammates in love relationships, teammates with family, teammates at school.  For a long time I just thought you were using the wrong word, which you are apt to do. But then…”

He paused, and I gave him a chance to catch his thoughts as I edited a paragraph I’d been stuck on for a few minutes. Finally, he returned to the conversation, “…sorry some things need more thought.  But as I was saying, I thought your talk about teammates was funny until I realized that it’s a good way of looking at relationships. Teammates have care for one another, they need to organize together collectively but each teammates’ contribution is unique and requires freedom and autonomy to flourish. Teammates need to communicate and they need to respect each other. Teammates need to have fun with each other and do everything they can to make the collective better.”

I asked if he considered me to be his teammate. He smiled and said, “Of course I do. But remember, teammates can also get traded – so don’t forget I like my wet food served around 6:30pm.  I’m sure you don’t have to be going to York any longer than that.”


Episode Eighteen: Habanero


This summer Virtute insisted that we plant a garden.  While Jenny is a relatively experienced gardner, both Virtute and I are novices in the ways of cultivation.  We grew tomatoes, basil, kale, cucumbers, and other herbs – but most excitingly we had a whole mix of hot peppers. Red dragon chilis, Thai green chilis, and habaneros.  

Virtute’s job tended to be more managerial and supervisory than laborious, but I asked him what he thought about my habaneros.  He sat thoughtfully for a long while, as he is apt to do and then finally said, “I’m not an expert on the Scoville scale that measures the pungency of chili peppers, but I do know that the habaneros rank highly on it. However, I prefer to measure things the old fashioned way, with my senses and with my memory”.  And so he sniffed and then licked one of the peppers and turned away quickly looking for a source of water.

I watched him at first with concern and then with respect as he composed himself and said, “There will be many instances in our lifetime in which we will need to test our ability to withstand the heat and so I’m glad for this experience, but can you please stop staring and grab me some milk and tuna, I like the flakey kind”.