For 10,000 Rupiah: What's in a Paw Print?

PRIMITIVE - Thursday, January 22, 2009
  Hardened mosquito eaters of Bali

We are flooring it - running to see new people and walking away just as quickly. Two more days and there are still a ton of things to accomplish. We have people to pay, deals to finish, and we’re still opening up “new boxes” as we close old ones. And in the meantime, the mosquitoes are out of control.

We have bites that have turned into welts and sores. Everyday our legs collect more spots. This morning Claudia asked me if I had devised a defense. I answered definitively, “Yes. I sprayed myself naked.” It’s the only chance I stand against them. I must coat my entire body after I shower or I’m doomed.

For dinner we found ourselves at a Japanese restaurant. We were the first customers of the night. Around here, people eat late and we get hungry soon after the sun sets, as soon as there are too many mosquitoes out to continue buying. Our waitress, Mini, immediately knew we were a different breed.

Check out the smile on this cat

Glen asked her what serene translated to in Indonesian. He asked because I wanted to know what he would name the villa he wants to build here. She let out nervous giggles but couldn’t understand our over-emphasized English: “SIR-EEEEIIN” we said slowly, “like calm, tranquil, SIR-EEEEIIN.”

Our food arrived. Plates of eggplant, sea weed, Japanese plums, nigiri, and sashimi collected on the table. We noticed a cat nearby. It was what Claudia calls a tordy – black and brown like tortoise shell. One cat soon turned into three. They slowly collected around the table, patiently looking up with big eyes.

Glen and Claudia gave them some calamari. I sprang up, “Stop that! They’re going to get sick. The staff is going to kick them if they see them begging for food! Oh my god, you guys are terrible!” I had every excuse until I leaned over the opposite side of the table and looked into their eyes. I melted. I couldn’t let them go hungry.

A few hours earlier Claudia made a comment about the cats in Bali: “They all look so tall.” I replied, “I think it’s because they’re so thin. Their legs are skinnier and look longer.” She nodded in agreement. Now, I waited for the staff to turn their backs before attempting to fatten up this small group.

The staff was on to our plan so I discretely passed my last piece of salmon off to Glen. He asked us to misdirect the staff by pointing elsewhere, and as we did he said, “Watch this!” He shot the salmon out from behind him like a discus thrower. It quickly flew through the air and landed directly on a table behind us. We all laughed.

Later, back at our temporary “Villa Serene,” I thought about those cats and began to dwell on the paw print in the Primitive logo. It belonged to Glen’s cat, Margie. He has steadfastly refused to drop it from the logo. He calls it “our good luck,” but I think it’s emblematic of something else that’s quietly evident at Primitive.

The objects presented at Primitive - whether proprietary or original - are treated sensitively, respectfully, reverently, and in a strange way, almost kindly. It’s what I’ve seen this trip and witnessed in the store; however, this attitude extends to our customers as well. I like to think that’s what Margie’s paw print really represents.

Some Indonesian paw prints