I didn’t want to go to the store, but you can’t reason with a vindictive calico who refuses to eat peanut butter. 

She watched me scrape the last bit of chicken pate into her dish from the last can of cat food. Her green eyes narrowed. “That’s it? It tastes like last week’s.” She flicked her tail and stomped away.

I was ugly. I didn’t need one thing from Hannaford, but because I forgot Peaches was out of food, I was pushing one foot in front of the other again through the doors that open so obligingly.

I grabbed a small red basket and slung it over my arm. I put on my blinders and walked straight ahead. Mmmm, fried chicken smells good. Stop it — you’re here for cat food.

Down the closest aisle I go and from the corner of my eye, I spy Double Stuf Oreos. Eyes straight ahead — you’re here for cat food.

Around the corner, and I look up for the pet food sign, but it says, “wine.” Mmm. A glass of wine with dinner would be nice, or maybe a glass with a book before bed. No. It’s Lent. You’re here for — you know

In the pet aisle, an older couple perused the many varieties of cat food.

“This one looks good, Elizabeth. It says, ‘savory beef in gravy.’“

“No, no, dear, Molly licks off all the gravy and leaves the rest. I think we’d better stick with the same dinner we know she likes.”

“She must get tired of the same old thing.” He made a face.

“Well, dear, just because we do doesn’t mean she does.” She looked at me and, smiling, tossed the food in their cart; together they walked on, chatting.

I thought about that. Peaches has definite likes and dislikes. How many varieties did we have to go through before she and I finally settled on one she would accept? So standing on my tiptoes, starting at the top and working down, I tried to read the labels to find the right dinner.

“Can I help you with that? What in particular are you looking for? We have chicken and turkey pate with cheese, fillet of perch and sauce, chicken liver and turkey with gravy and grilled salmon.” He read them off like a waiter making suggestions in a fine restaurant.

I turned and looked into happy eyes and a nice face featuring a mustache that must’ve been his pride and joy.

“Yes, thanks — chicken liver and turkey, a couple of cans.”

“Some night at one of our poker games, I’m going to slip a little of that cat food on a plate with crackers and see if any of those old birds flinch.” He laughed.

I laughed, too, at this kind and funny stranger as he went on his way.

I did some backtracking, then passed the ice cream on my way out.

“Find everything OK?”

“Sure did.”

“$15.45, please.”

Home again, I hugged Peaches. “Party tonight, Kitty.” 

Marlee Hill is a resident of Cape Elizabeth.