This is a St. Valentine’s Day Tale. In 1982 I was the supervisor of a large geotechnical engineering service project for the Ok Tedi mine. My crew was about 70 people – all males. But being boss, I had le droit de seigneur; the right to take female company. So I took unto me a female companion, Puss-Puss. She was cute, slender, ginger-haired. Faithful, she followed me around – only had eyes for me. Puss-Puss was good in bed, being generally tranquil except when, particularly loving and half-asleep, she would pummel me with her paws. She had good relationship with our flighty draftsman, Bill Horn, a fruit-eating hornbill, who used to crap polychromatically over my maps in attempts to add geological color to them. Of her beguiling ways, one of them was touching: she was very fond of stretching her self out on the same maps, playing with my pencils and making even more mess of the maps.
Puss-Puss had originally been something of a tramp, a camp follower at the yard of our camp-supply contractor in Port Moresby, She was lucky to survive through her kitten years – in Papua New Guinea mobile protein does not last long. The wife of the contractor worried for her and suggested she might find a good home with me at our camp. She was called Puss Puss because that good lady was often to be seen looking for the cat calling out “Puss, Puss!” “Where are you?” So Puss-Puss she became.
Because she was even more likely a source of protein at our camp, I always kept an eye out for her, and so did my staff. But the the nationals, the PNG folk who worked for us, could barely contain their mirth whenever I called out for her “Puss-Puss! Where are you?” It so happened that puss-puss is Melanesian Pidgin for “pussy”, and by that you will have to guess, perhaps with mirth, as to what that word means to folk in Papua New Guinea.
It is with joy that I have Puss-Puss in my life right now. I am currently in Pago Pago, American Samoa, working on a sewer project for several villages nearby. For the last few days, wild Miss Puss-Puss has wandered boldly through the open door of my hotel balcony. She fusses until I gave her attention, massaging her neck and back. and then stretching, she curls up on my maps. It shall not be long before I break down and give her milk and meat. And she in return will pummel me with her paws, in certain 30-year déjà vu…