Ivan lopes down the stairs, leaps onto the rug in the hall and runs straight ahead, making a lap through the living room and piano room on his way to the kitchen. There is a special Ivan rule that prohibits going directly from the stairs to the kitchen. When we stand at the back door and call him to go out, he responds with great enthusiasm, but this still requires a lap through the house. There would surely be cosmic repercussions if he proceeded directly to the door, omitting the circuit.
Ivan has quite a few rules. The reasoning is not intuitively obvious to us, but Ivan follows his rules with unquestioning certainty. He must sit on Eric’s left on the couch. The right is not acceptable. I’m not sure why, but this is an ironclad, not to be disputed rule.
He also prefers to sleep on the left side of the bed next to Eric most of the time. Occasionally, he will sleep on the right next to me or even between us, but Dasa sleeps with her head on my pillow, so Ivan frequently sniffs and turns away when I invite him to sleep closer to me. One of Ivan’s rules is that he should Always get the most attention.
There are certain critical rules essential for his comfort. His little stack of little donut beds under the kitchen desk should be arranged Just So. I am not certain what Just So consists of and as I never seems to get it right, this requires much busy digging and rearranging on his part before acceptable comfort levels have been achieved. Sometimes this means he ends up in one of the beds pushed out into the middle of the kitchen floor. He settles happily, so at that point Just So means right there. This is not a constant state. Rearrangement is often required.
The same rule of Just So applies to donut beds or nests of blankets on the people bed, the futon in my office or the couch. Only Ivan knows the secret of Just So, and he’s often exasperated that we cannot decode his system. After he tussles with his beds, working diligently to achieve the desired state, he settles in with a sigh, finally satisfied and tired from his efforts. He looks at us and I can tell he’s thinking if you want something done right. . . . Eric and I are mere apprentices of the Just So method, and we have a long way to go before our efforts are deemed satisfactory.