“Through A Glass Darkly” column for Dec. 12, 2012

If I had seen last week’s Fun section before my wife, I would have hidden it.

But, then, we never would have seen Gregory Peck live on stage.

I wasn’t prepared when Mary asked if I would take her to a show she really wanted to see. Given the childish twinkle in her eyes, I couldn’t refuse, even when I learned that the show was the Amazing Acro-Cats.

This cat circus, featured in the paper, stopped in Prairieville en route to shows scheduled in New Orleans.

Mary falls among the cat-lover portion of the population, while I have always resided among those resistant to feline charms.

I’ll admit I’ve grown fond of Butterbean, a kitten Mary rescued from a combination gas station and bait shop. Why a kitten needed to be rescued from a bait shop, I’ve never understood.

Rescue tales seem like pedigrees for cats, and it seemed every cat at the circus had its own story of woe.

Secretly I was intrigued by whether an animal trainer can make a cat do anything a cat doesn’t want to do.

I learned they can’t.

Trainer Samantha Martin showed that she could entice cats to jump over hurdles, except when they decided to go under them.

She could get a cat to balance atop a ball and roll it, but only after the cat looked at Martin for a while like the trainer was crazy.

Martin could get cats to stand on their hind legs and push shopping carts or ride a skateboard except when they preferred to sniff something.

Actually, I soon found myself chuckling, not at what cats did on cue, but what they decided to do on impulse.

At one point, when the trainer tried to get the audience to focus on a cat trick on one side of the stage, most people were laughing at a feline that had climbed a pole on the other side to swat at something on the ceiling.

The show worked, but only because Martin, like any true herder of cats, didn’t try to rein them in too tightly. When they did their tricks, they brought applause. When they chose to act like cats, they brought laughter.

For reasons unexplained, the cat show included a chicken and a groundhog named Garfield.

Garfield garnered applause when he hoisted an American flag. In vain, I pulled for him in a bowling match against Tuna, the aloof cat starlet.

Impressive in the one-frame contest, Garfield made a spare, but Tuna followed with a strike.

Maybe because groundhogs lack rhythm, Garfield was shuffled into the wings for the show’s rock band finale.

Cats playing drums, guitar, keyboards and other instruments were joined by a chicken playing tambourine and cymbals.

The chicken, named Gregory Peck for her percussion style, proved to be the best musician.

Mary was enthralled.

She couldn’t get Gregory Peck’s autograph, but it probably would have just been chicken scratch anyway.

Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@theadvocate.com.