We recently published Eric Scot Tryon’s delightful “We Worry for Cats.”
Here, we ask him two questions about his story:
1) The title really drew me into this piece — with so much else that’s going on, I think that “cats” is such a fun, specific concern. How did you decide on this delightful title?
For me, titles either come instantly and I don’t second guess them, or I belabor them for all eternity and never land on one I like. Luckily here, it was the former. I was instantly drawn to the sound of the phrase as a title. In the context of the story I think its odd phrasing works but sitting alone as a title without having yet entered the story, the structure and tense of the phrase feels familiar yet off. And maybe that’s a good thing. I also like that the title doesn’t directly reference what the story is “about”, at least on the surface. I mean, you don’t read this and think it’s a story about cats. Yet at the same time, these endless lists of things—cats, phone chargers, mismatched socks, Zoom meetings, etc. and the way they are all placed on equal ground and feel completely interchangeable, might be exactly what the story is about.
2) I love the reaction at the end especially, to be witnesses, to share what they are seeing, even though their phones have gone dead from wasting all that time on them. And I love that, of course! — everyone has grabbed their phones (even if they left their cats behind). What do you think drives this instinct to witness?
I think the most basic of all human needs is our need to connect with other humans. But of course, this flood of technology, the internet, phones, etc. over the past few decades has done everything it is power to disconnect us from one another, to isolate us. But that basic human need is still there more than ever, except now the way we satiate it has morphed into likes, comments, clicks, views, followers. So this need, this instinct to witness and to document is really just the evolution of our need to connect with others. At least that’s my armchair-philosopher answer. The more basic answer would be that we are now all robots, and our muscle memory has been trained to click and post, click and post. Even when we know the phone is dead, we don’t know how to not grab for it first.