I really, really love cats. I once brought my most gregarious cat along in the cab; he hung out in the back window, charmed my passengers, and earned me a gentle reprimand from my boss. I once made a blood delivery to a hospital only to find a wet, cold tabby outside the blood-bank door; she lives happily with my ex-boyfriend now. And at the moment I'm looking at a scrawny stray scrounging behind some dumpsters by a bar on Northeast Sandy Boulevard.

I'm waiting for my passenger, listening to the cat crying, and wondering if I have time to go see if he's OK. I don't.

My passenger opens the door and gets in. Big, burly Mexican guy, shaved head, tattooed knuckles, two gold teeth, pants hanging off the ass-right out of Central Casting, this guy. Except....

I tell him about the stray, and he says, "Oh, he's fine, I feed him all the time. I have four at home." So do I. He tells me their names, he shows me their pictures, he talks about his kitty cats like they are his children, which is how I am, too: It's embarrassing. Him too, his friends tease him.

He tells me he's gotten into fights with people because he saw them abusing cats. His voice takes on that tone reserved for animals and small children; he is gushing about his cats. He tells me about eccentric behaviors, funny incidents and absurd cuteness. For a normal person, this would be like seeing someone else's vacation pictures, but I am eating it up.

I love it when people are 180 degrees different than what you expect.