“Seriously, what is this thing? Be you bovine, sir?”
I swivel in my chair to see Fat near the living room window almost nose-to-nose with the snoozing Mutt.
“He’s a dog, Fat. Hardly bovine.”
Her nose creeps closer to his face and Fat’s eyes squint at Mutt’s floppy ears. “How can you be sure he’s a dog? He certainly is ugly. You’re right though, he’s not bovine – he’s missing horns and/or an udder to be considered part of that herd.” Her tone turns playful, “Aren’t you? Who’s a gross dog?”
Mutt doesn’t open his eyes, but his tail wags in response to Fat’s teasing. I hope his display of happiness is a reaction to a delightful dream and not a response to Fat. She can’t exert mind games on two of us. That would be six different kinds of cruel and unfair.
“Mutt, you idiot.” My feet propel me with just enough force to spin the chair around and face the computer.
“You’re going to need to explain his species a bit further.”
I jump. Damn her padded paw prints. I can never hear her coming and it’s too late to escape. Now she’s here sitting next to me on the desk, appearing out of nowhere like a cartoon villain.
“He’s one part chihuahua–”
I wave my hand in her face hoping it will serve as an informal cease and desist order. “That’s not necessary. As I was saying, he’s one part chihuaha–”
“And three parts hideous monster.”
I sigh and try to refocus on a revision I’ve been working on for many moons. My left hand rests on the side of my face in a polite effort to ignore the meowing creature tucked neatly into my peripheral who does not take kindly to being ignored.
“Hey, dummy. Pay attention to me when I’m talking to you.”
I click save and forcefully lean backward on my chair, folding my hands in my lap before she sees it as space that needs to be occupied. “Do you know what today is Fat?”
“Anti-Bullying Day.” It feels pretty good to interrupt her for a change. Take that, feline menace.
“Auntie Bullying Day? You going to call up your auntie and say hateful things over the phone? Are you trying to seduce me with a house cat/owner bonding experience? Sold. Get her on the horn. Being that I’m so good at it, you want I should feed you some lines like an asshole Cyrano?”
My fingers rub my temples. She’s just being the feline she was when you chose to bring her home from the SPCA. You can’t be upset with her lack of understanding anything to do with tolerance. I visualize an intense tennis match at Wimbledon where Fat replaces the tennis ball. She’s spherical enough. My imagination makes me feel instantly better.
“No, moron. Today is about rallying against bullying.”
Fat nods. “I see you take the message to heart. Kind of a practice what you preach kind of thing you’re serving me here.”
“What?” I’ve misunderstood her dry tone completely. “People wear pink shirts as a symbol of standing up to bullies.”
“So where’s yours?” Fat gives me the once over. “All I see is a black shirt covering albino skin.”
“I only have one pink shirt, Fat, and it’s not exactly appropriate. It’s got my catch phrase from when I was in my early twenties. Actually I think you would really appreciate it.” I push with my feet again and the chair rolls away from the desk. Fat jumps down but doesn’t follow when I go to the bedroom and fetch the hoodie from the back of my closet.
“When you leave a room, bitch, the polite thing to do is excuse yourself.”
Gone for literally fourteen seconds and this is the response I get upon my return. I bend down to give her my most hateful I-will-bury-you-alive glare. Fat doesn’t wince. I hate not being taken seriously.
I snap, “Hey. You are in a bully free zone.” My hands wave wildly in all directions as if to illustrate the boundaries.
Fat stays quiet for a few long seconds to let my anger diffuse. She steps two and a half feet closer to the hallway. “How about here? Can I call you a bitch here?”
“Bully. Free. Zone.” I feel the erosion of my molars as I clench my teeth.
“How far away to I have to go for that not to be in effect? Maybe we should rope off the areas of the apartment that are bully zones. If we could make them by the food dish and over by my cat post those would be the most convenient for me. Where do you want yours? Then we would both know the zones where we can…” Her sentence loses its end as her gaze shifts to the pale pink bundle in my hands. “Let me see it.”
I hold it up and watch her eyes skim over the words. I watch her melt to the floor and roll on her back; her tiny claws extend in the air with the passion of a mime reciting a love poem. These are the moments that are worth the back and forth struggle between us; her capacity to be cute has saved her life on a multitude of occasions.
“I must have it.”
“I’m not giving this to you because you demand it,” I smile and toss the sweater over to Fat. “Here you are, half-wit. It’s all yours.”