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Soon after my grown daughter moved into the house, I was on the roof with a flashlight sweet-talking a cat.

"Come here, kitty. Nice kitty. Come on now," I cooed to the cat as I tracked the animal slowly across the roof."Do you see him?" my daughter called up through the darkness.

"Yes, I see him," I replied quietly.

"What? Do you see him?"

"Yes, I see him," I said with a bit more volume.

"I can't hear you," she called back.

The reason I didn't want to raise my voice had nothing to do with frightening the cat. I didn't want to call attention to myself.

I suppose it would have been different had I occasionally seen other men in the neighborhood on their roofs in the middle of the night talking to cats. But I hadn't.

At that point I already felt my slow-motion cat chase around the roof must have been spotted.

"Wake up, and look at what that crazy newspaper-man is doing across the street."

"What's he doing now?"

"He's walking around on his roof with a flashlight. And he looks like he's talking to someone, but there's no one else up there."

I also was afraid the police would drive by. Normally, that would be a good thing. But not with me creeping around on the roof with a flashlight. They would probably radio for backup, screech up to the house with lights and sirens, hit me with spotlights and order me with bullhorns to throw down my weapons and reach for the sky.

On the other hand, maybe the police would help get my daughter's cat off the roof. But probably not.

I was a fireman on a hook and ladder truck in a large city during the several years after I got out of the military and before I returned to college. We often refused requests to rescue cats. Cat rescues could interfere with people rescues. Besides, cats eventually come down. Otherwise, there would be dead cats on roofs and in trees all across the country.

But that's not what I wanted to tell my daughter. She wanted her cat off the roof. And that was why I was on the roof in my house slippers when I should have been in bed asleep.

I walked with tiny steps down to the roof's edge near the ladder where my daughter was peering up.

"Yes, I see the cat. He's headed that way." I pointed with the flashlight.

"He's afraid of you. Call him Monster Meow Meow. That way he'll know you are a friend."

"I'm not going to walk around on this roof calling that cat Monster Meow Meow."

"Why not?"

I caught myself before I said men don't do that sort of thing. It was late, and I had heard before about being a victim of invalid, prehistoric masculine stereotypes.

"You think that will work?"

"Yes. And talk real sweet to him and tell him he's a pretty kitty."

I moved slowly back up the roof to resume the chase. The cat, appropriately named Monster, was waiting patiently for my return.

"Hello there, Monster Meow Meow," I said as sweet as I could. "Monster Meow Meow is a pretty kitty. Now Monster Meow Meow needs to stay right there, and we'll both get off this roof."

Darn if it didn't work.

Monster Meow Meow was soon back in the arms of his human companion. My daughter carried him back inside where he was rewarded with a nice meal for Lord only knows what.

Monster Meow Meow appeared happy. My daughter was happy. She thanked me for all the trouble. And I was happy, too. I slept well.