(Warning, this is a bit long.) Court reporting runs in my family; I came across this gem recently in some of the old files. My grandfather's brother, in the days before computer-aided transcription (or even Steno machines), would dictate his shorthand notes onto a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and sent the tape to a typist. One day, in a strange mood, he interrupted his notes to wax philosophic; the typist, for some reason, kept his diatribe in the witness' testimony. (Fortunately, the extraneous bit was removed before the final copy was sent out of the office...) Here it is (names have been changed): -----O----- Q Now, would you tell the court in your own words concerning the general demeanor and actions of John Smith, which would throw any light on his competency, his mental competency? Tell the court in your own words. A It is a long story, but if the court is willing, I will tell it. Q It will save my questioning you. I think you are intelli- gent enough to tell the court what you know. A I knew very little about the family except that they lived next door and minded their own business. I had no trouble with them. They were quiet, the children were co-operative, they kept the children at home. The elderly gentleman, Mr. Smith, we had very little association with him at first, but we had a big cat -- a very valuable cat, by the way -- that we had brought with us from Texas, and which was a show cat. Mr. Smith had made friends with this cat, which was a difficult thing to do because the cat had been castrated when young and was not friendly. Operator, let us go off the record for a moment so that we may consider the last statement of the witness. At first blush I thought it was a perfect example of non sequitur, the jumping from an insufficient premise to a faulty conclusion. It seemed to me that the witness' reasoning was wholly wrong: that here should have been a placid cat; a happy, contented cat; a cat not subject to the storms and stresses of natural tomcathood; but one that could eat and sleep in the sunshine, and purr with no hate in his soul. But the lady was qualified in psychiatry. She was educated, and so I gave ear again to her words and another picture began to develop. I noted that she did not state that this cat was a kitten when he suffered this great loss, but that he was young -- there's the difference. In my mind's eye, I see not a fuzzy, thoughtless kitten, but a young tomcat; a lusty, healthy young animal, one who is old enough to have forsaken the fireside for a night or two, one who had been on the tiles, so to speak, and who had roamed an alley or two in his day. I see a cat developing into lusty tomhood, finding life good indeed. Then I see this catastrophe, this cataclysm, if I may say so, befall him. I see him seized by a human, or two humans, and subjected to the greatest, basest indignity that could be inflicted upon cat or man. I can picture the horrible scars upon his psyche, the agonized distortion of his very soul, as he tries unsuccessfully to adjust himself to his terrific loss. Ah, bad enough at his home in Texas, but then -- horror upon horrors -- he is wrenched away and brought to a strange city, a strange house, that in itself unbearable to cats. I see him fighting another battle with humiliation and frustration, surrounded on all sides by his ancient enemy, Man, who had de-flowered him in his youth. And is that all? No! Where did his family take him? Where did they force him to live? NEXT DOOR TO A VETERINARY SURGEON! Yes, I agree. I see here a cat with no cause to be friendly. I see a very bitter cat. Now, following the witness' statement out, I find that her reasoning is quite sound. Here is this cat, bitter against Man, retired from the world, haunted and hagridden by his memories, ruined and betrayed by Man. He sees Mr. John Smith and his lip curls in scorn and hatred. He sees him again and again and one day a curious sensation comes to him. He sees Mr. Smith pottering about the yard, while perchance the March breezes blow, the ladies passing down the street, their dresses pleasingly elevated by the wind. It occurs to him Mr. Smith pays no attention to them, and he realizes in some dim, feline fashion that here, though he be a member of the tribe of his ancient enemy, is one in much the same condition as he. And so, hatred gives way to toleration, and toleration finally ripens into friendship. Operator, this bitter cat realizes that he and Mr. Garrett are brothers under the skin -- the foreskin, that is. Now back to the record.
(From the "Rest" of RHF)