Why do we say things like this? No wonder foreigners have so much trouble learning our language. Where and when did this come from, I mean at what point in history was keeping a cat in a bag an occurrence common enough to develop a saying about it? And for what nefarious purpose were we keeping said cat in the bag that we did not want anyone to know? Last night, in my usual state of insomnia, I pondered this question and have come up with the following theory: (Remember this is historical fiction based on a hypothesis I made up at 3 am)
Once upon a time, there lived, in a deep, dark forest, a man, his wife and his two children named Ingrid and Franc (pronounced Frahnk). They were a poor family and the man worked very hard as a woodsman because in these types of stories there are very few career options for men who live in the woods. Ingrid and Franc were always bored and frequently asked to go into the forest to find a pet to keep them company and play with them but as you know, this is a fairy tale and there is some weird and freaky shit deep in the woods so their mother forbade them.
One day while Ingrid and Franc were off visiting their sickly grandmother, a stray cat wondered up the path to the cottage. The woman did not want to let the cat in the house because as I said, they were poor and the floors of the cottage were just dirt and straw so she knew if she took this cat in as a pet, it would just poop and pee everywhere! So she waited for her husband to come home for his lunch that she was preparing because lord knows he can’t even manage to pack himself a few things in the morning. So, when the man came home, she explained to him that they could not have a cat as a pet because of the whole house as a litter box thing. He agreed.
So she had come up with a plan to rid them of the cat before the kids came home and saw it and started whining about please can we keep it. She told him to put the cat in a burlap bag and carry it into the village. This way, if he should pass the children on his way there, they would think he was simply taking some potatoes to market. When he got to the village he was to leave the cat in the alley between the baker’s and the ale-house where it would find lots of scraps to eat and the children would never be the wiser. Well he wasn’t really happy to have this chore added to his day but he agreed because he didn’t want to hear her nagging at him either so he put the cat into the bag and started off down the path through the woods that led to the village. Not but a few feet from the cottage, however, he saw a fallen limb that would make a fine axe handle and since he enjoyed whittling, he decided to leave the bagged feline for later and sat down to do the chore he wanted to do instead. Well, wouldn’t you know, that crafty kitty worked its way free of the bag and got out just as the children were coming up the path. They saw the cat and were so excited! They picked him up and hugged him. They begged their father to let them keep him and the man said without even really listening to them because he was busy whittling his awesome new axe handle: “I don’t care but you have to ask your mother” so they ran to the cottage to ask her. Their Mother was now hard at work washing and mending all of her husband’s britches and when she looked up and saw the children with the cat flipping about in their arms, she knew she was defeated. She explained her concern to the children and told them that she simply could not be in charge of cleaning up after it because she was so busy as it was keeping them fed and clothed and the house cleaned. Ingrid and Franc promised to take responsibility for 100% of the care of the cat which they had already named Little Portly Sam because that is the kind of name animals had in fairy tale days of old.
Within a fortnight however, the woman found herself scooping up cat poop from the floors of the cottage and changing the peed-on straw. She even had to feed Little Portly Sam as well. And she thought to herself, every time she bent over to pick up more poop, how she had asked her husband to do one simple thing and he screwed it up and now of course he is too busy “working” all day to help with the cat care and the children were already on to some other obsession and were bored with poor Portly Sam who wasn’t really Little anymore and it had turned out that the portly belly was a result of worms which now everyone in the house probably had because of all the cat shit everywhere. But she wasn’t bitter. No. Not at all. She was just happy to have a home and a loving, hard working husband and so much of her own house-work to keep her busy. She was just so blessed. 😕 However she knew that she would have a hard time ever forgiving her husband for letting the cat out of the bag…..The End.