Many years ago, in San Francisco, I was waiting for a photographer to come over and take pictures of my art for my portfolio. While waiting, I drew a picture of two cats having English tea-based on a girlfriend and myself. Later, I did a version in color, and much later, decided to write a story about these characters. And later, I expanded the story to become

Mimi's Debut,

or

Mrs. Reedley auf Naxos.

 

Below are some illustrations and excerpts.

 

"Awash in tea and wonder, Mimi would drink cup after cup until her saucer eyes glazed over in bliss and she drifted far away from all her cares. Much, much later, when afternoon became evening, and evening became night, Aunt Mamone would shake herself and exclaim, "Oh dear! Look at the time! And we've only just got started!" The two best friends would finally say goodnight and Aunt Mamone would promise to finish her tale next time."

 

"Everyone knows that cats have nine lives. Yet many would say that cats have only one life and they'd better make something of themselves before it's too late. One young cat who heard these arguments but remained unmoved was Mimi. Mimi wanted to see for herself.

You see, Mimi was an observer, which is very common in cats. She loves watching the world and reflecting on it later. She saw no reason to change, when all she wanted was peace."

 

"But oh-what a beautiful night! There was a full moon and a warm wind. Leaves flew ahead of her along the pavement and song birds called in the dark. Then it was around the square and one more right turn-or was it a left?"

 

"But just then the orchestra began a booming overture, startling Mimi so that she ran up a tree to hide. Suddenly the murky room filled with brilliant light and all the trees rose swiftly to the ceiling like silent elevators. When they stopped, Mimi had been carried up sixty feet to the darkness above the stage!"

 

"Mimi was accustomed to her usual spot in the middle of the back row, surrounded by her classmates. But dancing solo, she found she had room to try those dramatic arm gestures she'd always admired. And when she stood on one toe (not quite en pointe) and reached as high as she could with the other toe, and raised her wand all at the same time, the audience fairly fell out of their seats."

 

 "Then there was another kind of deer in a spotted costume. He wasn't very sociable and no one took any notice of him. He lounged around the edges of the room, sometimes draping himself across the back of the couch and playing his flute.  He seemed to make the ladies nervous: If he drew near them, they quickly drew away."

 

 

 "Mrs. Reedley knew all about Swan Lake. She herself had once danced with the famous Ballet Narcissistique of Kazakhstan. Their productions of "Le Sacre du Perma Frost" and "Moon Over Kremlin" had been all the rage at the time."

 

 "Still, she said, no challenge could match that of the infamous Siberian winter tour of "Daphnis and Khrushchev," an early Matthew Bourne production. Unfortunately, the work featured rather more male pulchritude than might have been expected. (It seems that the freshly washed men's costumes had frozen solid to a pasture fence and were devoured to the last spangle by a group of local goats)."