An Untranslatable Love Language of Jackass Proportions

“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–”

“Ay, 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?”

“Wedne–”

“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.”

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Curse Words in the Kitchen

“Your mother clearly didn’t raise you right. I should film this.” Fat perches on the edge of the computer desk and watches me while I turn the kitchen into what looks like a Tasmanian devil mating ground. The feline brushes her paw against her jaw line, “Hey dumb ass, you’ve got a little something there.”

“Huh?” I crouch in front of a lower cupboard shoving pots back inside haphazardly. It’s so hot in here; it’s menopausal woman spending a summer’s day at the equator kind of hot. I can’t guarantee that the cookware is free of perspiration – the magical combination of my busted-ass oven and inept culinary skills have created a portal to the surface of the sun. I have no desire to open that oven door again. I’m not so much worried about the sweat on the pots so much as I am about whatever dirt coats my Fred Flintstone feet, but I’m at that fuck-it stage of the whole process. If I’m being completely honest with myself, the next time these pots are used for cooking and not accidental indoor soccer, forty thousand other domestic debacles will have erased this particular incident from memory. With violent and brute force, the cupboard door slams shut. The back of my wrist wipes the side of my face, and this is how I discover the flour that Fat was trying so graciously to point out.

I hear the gentle thud of Fat jumping off the desk. Oh hooray, the lumpy feline with the loud opinion is coming to get a closer look.

“Let me see if I understand,” Fat attempts to stifle a laugh by playing it off as a cough, “You offered to make breakfast.”

I nod.

“And somehow you thought that cookies were the way to go.”

I nod again. A few seconds tick by until I come to the realization that I’m supposed to say something. With the multitude of words accessible in the English language, I offer a response in as much as one syllable, “Uh…”

“Surely you could have gotten away with toast and tea or even soggy cereal? You seldom shine, but when it comes to adding milk to cereal, you almost always get it right. Please,” another phony cough escapes her mouth, “please help me understand your thought process here.” Fat sits upright and clears her throat to bury more laughter from joining us in the kitchen. She acknowledges my you’re-not-fooling-anyone glare. “Dry cough. I must have caught it from that commercial for Tylenol Cold and Flu with that wheezy kid in the loser glasses.”

“You can’t catch–” Is this really something I want to debate with my cat? “Never mind, Fat.” An incessant beep blasts from the stove top. After strangling the sound into silence, I grab a dish towel and open the oven.

Fat’s tiny nose sniffs the air, “So, why the cookies for breakfast?”

“I panicked after I offered to–oh fucking balls!” I drop the pan on the stove top and it makes a clanging sound so loud I hear Boyfriend, still in bed, ask if I’m inflicting any self-harm. “Mostly psychological,” I shout over my shoulder as I run cold tap water over the burn on my hand. Maybe oven mitts really aren’t some crazy fad the hipsters made up.

“Psychological harm is my specialty.” Fat jumps up beside the dish rack and looks from my hand to my face. I feel the burning intensity of her eyes. “It’s okay to quit. You’re really not good at this. Failure on all fronts. I hope I’m not being intrusive when I say that you’re better off just making the man some toast.”

My brain clumsily gallops like a lame horse from one idea to the next. There has to be some way to salvage this fiasco. “Mimosas.” I finally look Fat in the face, “I’ll get him so hammered off mimosas he won’t know the difference between a cookie and a pancake.”

Fat’s forehead lowers, “It scares me to think you actually consider this a constructive and viable idea. It’s hilarious that you think this plan will make yourself feel like less of a failure.” She leans forward and focuses on my third eye, “What in the hell goes on in there? Don’t get me wrong, you are one of my more interesting cases to observe. I’m quite interested to watch how this plays out.”

I shake the water from my hand and dash to the fridge. Fat follows at my heels and we both are hugely disappointed to discover–

“You’re a couple ingredients shy of mimosas.” Fat pokes her head further into the fridge, “You’ve got some vine tomatoes here. There’s still that vodka. A little can-do attitude and Martha Stewart do-it-yourself incentive and you’ve got yourself… well, something to get Boyfriend drunk. Sunday, Bloody Sunday, right?”

“Not the time for this attitude of yours, Bono.” I slam the fridge door shut and drum my fingers on the outside of the freezer compartment. “Help me think.”

Fat watches my nails clack-clack-clack on the appliance. Her gaze hardens and becomes serious. When I feel that she’s onto something, my fingers stop to feed the silence.

Immense quiet.

She’s bound to have some sage advice that will help me. A paw touches lightly to her mouth and Fat clears her throat. I stand at attention waiting for the feline to come forth with anything.

Her jaw opens.

Cruel laughter plays the part of empathy this morning as the worst understudy in the history of the world. Her boisterous chuckle races through the kitchen like a streaker – I can’t not pay attention to it. “Your face,” the laughter does a duet with her words, “you look like you’re trying to disarm a bomb and don’t know which wire to cut.”

We both look over to my sad cookies, still on the pan, embarrassed of themselves.

“Boyfriend,” I call and grab my keys off the wall hook. In unison, Fat’s voice joins mine as I finish my thought, “We’re going out for breakfast.” I scowl at her, and again she speaks my words at the same time I do, “Stop that. You don’t know me.”

“Boss, Please. You’re embarrassing yourself.”

Mr. Clean is my Homeboy; He Keeps His Opinions to Himself

“Plumber’s crack aside, I admire the way you scrub that tub,” Fat takes a break from lapping up toilet water. “These no-nonsense skills you exhibit are reminiscent of a German grandmother.”

I blink hard and stare at my surroundings with the surprise of a sleepwalker waking up in the order line at an unfamiliar McDonald’s. There must be some reasonable explanation to my actions – a body snatcher’s incident perhaps. I become instantly aware of the pain in my lower back from being hunched over the edge of the bathtub. I briefly worry that the tension in my forehead is an angry unibrow that resulted from a prolonged frown. The skin of my fingerprints is almost white and resembles many a resident’s face of the retirement village. Two fingernails are broken and in my hand is a sponge with a green scouring pad… what kind of weird ass fight club did I get sucked into while my mind was elsewhere? I reach up and touch the sides of my head to make sure I didn’t give myself a mohawk while the autopilot was on.

“Bitch, you are one hefty grossmutter.” Fat continues, seemingly oblivious to my out-of-body experience. I look up at her and she misinterprets  the look on my face as offense. “What? That’s grandmother in German. Get some culture. Learn the language of your people.”

I say nothing, but continue to compile questions in my head as to why I’m playing the part of a domicile and why I’m harvesting an abundance of She-Hulk anger.

“With gruff strength like that you would make a mighty fine shot putter.”

The anger momentarily subsides and I drop the sponge in the tub’s basin. “You know, I did throw shot put in high school. Not well, mind you, but I did compete.”

“Last place?”

“No.” It hurts me that my cat doesn’t think of me as a winner. “Second to last place.”

Fat leans her face into the toilet again and her voice echos in the bowl, “My mistake, boss.”

The smell of the Mr. Clean cleanser brings me back to the present and the Pavlovian response is a scowl. Fat’s grey head emerges dutifully at the irritated expulsion of my breath.

“As a keen observer of human behaviour, I notice that you’re rather out of sorts today. What’s making you so vexed, meine grossmutter?” Fat looks around at the glistening bathroom, “Don’t get me wrong, a clean apartment is a nice change of pace. I have noticed though, that you only unleash the elbow grease when something is making you mad.”

“I–”

“For the record,” Fat interrupts, “I mean mad in the irate way and not mad as a hatter. You’ve cornered the market on the latter; nobody’s going to stop the presses for that headline.” She takes a split second to mull over her words, “Unintentional rhyme. Cool.”

I wait. Fat stares as I move from the floor and sit on the edge of the tub.

“You go mute or something?”

“You know I hate being interrupted. It’s very rude.”

“Manners from the one who threatened the life of a movie concession worker for over-buttering her popcorn.” Fat’s sarcasm is my least favourite thing in the world after Nicolas Cage.

“I stand by that.” I point at Fat in a ‘you-can’t-handle-the-truth’ kind of way. “It was attempted homicide; you know butter’s not good for the heart.” I sigh and let my sudden outburst deflate. It’s  not Fat I’m mad at. “My weekend got ruined. Boyfriend and I were supposed to go to Kelowna and highway conditions cancelled our plans.”

A few beats of silence pass. Fat still sports her absurd listening face – an insincere smile and creepily wide eyes.

“This is where you offer some kind of insight, doc.”

“Just making sure you were finished.” She goes quiet again until I nod. “In which case, all I really have to say is: so what?”

Way to shoulder my disappointment and resentment in Mother Nature, Fat. I need to do something with my hands or I’m going to strangle her. I opt for picking up the sponge and squeeze it with as much pressure as possible.

“Can I finish?”

Hooray. Fat has more she’d like to say. Damn it, an untintentional rhyme. This cat has gotten into my head. “Fine.”

“Waiting a couple weeks when the roads are clear isn’t going to kill you, but driving in winter conditions where you lack practice will. Who will feed me then?” Fat accurately reads the expression on my face. “Right, it’s not about me. I digress. Your problem, boss, is that you are a control freak. And since you’re not equipped with an arsenal of feelings like normal people, your go-to response is anger.” The feline watches my hands as they ease up on the sponge. “You set up camp inside your head and have this compulsion to physically do something while your mind is elsewhere – hence the frenzied cleaning with a product whose spokesman is either a genie or a man going through chemotherapy. Is it bad that I can’t tell the difference?”

I squint Fat as she wets her whistle with toilet water again. “You think you’ve got me all figured out, don’t you?”

“Why do you suppose I piss you off more on days where I need the litter box cleaned?”

Indisputable Evidence That A Vacuum Must Be Used

“You copied my outfit.” Fat squeezes herself between me and the Sudoku in today’s newspaper, botching a four I write down in pen. I’ll find out soon enough that this, along with a vast collection of other numbers is far from correct. It would turn out that Sudoku is not a guessing game as my brain would lead me to believe.

“My apologies, Fat. I was unaware you were donning pyjama pants and a tank top this evening.” My pen presses into the paper as I manoeuver around the feline in an attempt to make the four look less like an awkward triangle. I shoot a quick glance up and notice her everyday fur coat, “Did the emperor lend you his clothes?” I make no effort to disguise the dryness in my tone.

“If my clothes appear invisible to you, it means you are unfit for your position and stupid.” She doesn’t flinch when I scowl and raise my slapping hand. “Your issue is with Hans Christian Andersen, lady. I don’t sew real clothes; it seems a waste of time to sew imaginary ones. I would never go so far out of my way to insult your intelligence.” She looks up, her ears point backward into devil horns and she offers a quick flash of her fangs as she smirks, “Give you a soapbox and you’ll do that all on your own. No help necessary.”

That’s it. I grab the newspaper with both hands and roll it up as quick as I can, wind up, and strike the feline on the tip of her wet nose. Fat’s devil demeanor melts away. Her paw dabs her nose, not hiding her surprise that I actually followed through. It would appear that junk punching with rage is not the only special skill listed on my resume.

“You really got me there,” she pulls her paw away from her face, “good one, boss. No wonder there aren’t any flies around the apartment.” Her dark nose twitches and she shakes her head while slightly leaning back. After a couple seconds of this, she seems to have righted herself and sits normally again. I toss the newspaper onto the coffee table and lean back on the couch.

“What I meant was that we match. You copied my signature shade.” Fat looks at the underside of her paw and at my clothes indicatively. I wouldn’t have noticed that my pants and shirt were essentially the same colour as my little furball. Fat makes a bold move and risks climbing up onto my stomach. “Look, camouflage.” Her eyes brighten as an idea hits her, “Hey. Get Boyfriend to come in here and ask him if it looks like you have a gut.” She curls herself into a tighter ball as if to mimic the shape of a beer belly. “Do it.”

“I’m going to have to throw you a big fat no on that one. I will never holler at him to come check out my obesity, even if it is you I’m talking about.”

“Still think you’re fooling him by sucking in that stomach, eh? He may pretend not to notice but believe me, chubbs, he knows. In spite of that,” she leans toward my face to whisper, “I think he like-likes you.” Fat reaches out and lightly touches my thigh, her claws easily pierce the fabric of my dark grey pyjama pants as her scattered brain hits her with another idea. “Oh my God. We should be on a team. We have the matching outfits already.” She purrs, “I love this look. Have I told you that I love this look for us?” She pulls her paw so she can tuck it under her body, but my pyjama pants seem to be attached to her. Fucking great.

“It’s nice to know that if I don’t end up old and grey in matching sweatsuits with Boyfriend, I’ll at least be young and grey with you right now.” Goody for me. If this is where I peak in life… I shake my head at the thought of this being the definitive moment where life is at its best. Oh Christ.

“Middle-aged and grey.”

“Don’t push it. I’m not above introducing that newspaper to your face again.” I wrestle to unhook her talon from my pants. She lets her arm hang limp so I can free us. “You seem a little more scattered today than usual. What’s going on, Fat? I know you’re not on the catnip today.”

Fat lazily jumps down to the carpet. “Sadly I am not.” Her pupils widen. “Fortunately for me, I was scrounging for some rogue food under the stove and I happened upon one of Mutt’s pills. It was covered in dust, but believe you me, it’s doing the job. Started to kick in a couple minutes ago.” Fat starts to smile and abruptly stops. Her head spins to look the opposite direction with stress and alarm. “What the hell was that?”

I listen to the silence. “Nothing.” Note to self: make sure Mutt swallows his pills and doesn’t spit them out, making them accessible to the nip-head in the household.

“Don’t judge me. You do questionable things all the time. It’s my night off of work, I’ve had difficult clients all week. I’m letting my hair down.” She pauses and her eyes grow wide again, “did you know that we match?” Fat flinches as though there is gunfire happening in the hallway. “Seriously, is that a merman banging on the door?”

“Yes. There is a merman at the door.” I roll my eyes. “He’s here to capture you and drown you in the ocean. You should hide for the next few hours or so.”

Fat drops to her stomach and clumsily slithers under the couch. “Good idea, boss. Don’t tell him where I am.”

There’s no denying the fact: I need to clean the apartment. Who knows how many other dog-saliva-coated pills are lingering on the floor? Night off or not, Fat can’t help herself.

Fat is not my Spirit Animal

“What on earth is a spirit animal?” Fat looks up from the entertainment section of the daily rag. Her green eyes lit with fiery curiosity. Feline curiosity doesn’t sit still long enough to gather dust. Not two minutes ago, Fat was intrigued by a commercial on television for the NoNo. She wondered if it would work on cats, but wasn’t sure because they didn’t use the hair removal device on any animals in the commercial. No sooner was that question out of her mouth when another query formed: would it still be considered a brazilian if all her hair was removed. She was a…kitty after all.

I watch steam come off my hair as unruly curls become tortured into a sleek finish from the straightening iron. “I’m not actually sure, Fat. Perhaps some kind of animal ghosts that walk the earth and haunt humans? Perhaps you are a spirit animal and I am stuck here in my own private version of hell.” I lean the iron against the wall so the hot plates don’t touch the carpet. I wish I could do this in front of the bathroom mirror like normal people, but our bathroom is prehistoric and lacks the power outlet necessary to make my hair look less like my mother’s. “Why do you ask?”

Fat stares down at the news print in front of her, “It just seems like every celebrity and their left nut all have a spirit animal.” She skims the rest of the short article. “Nope. Doesn’t say what it is. It’s not news if you’re left with more questions than you started with.”

“…And their left nut? I keep forgetting how classy you are, Fat.” With half my hair curly and the other half straight, I reach over to the desk and pull my laptop down beside me on the carpet. “This is what the internet is for, isn’t it?”

Fat moves the three feet to sit beside me. As always, she becomes distracted by the moving cursor and bats the screen with a small paw. Stupid cat.

“Google it! Google it!” Fat chants as though she’s at a sorority party cheering on the dude doing a kegstand. She watches as I click on a result. “Urban dictionary, good choice.” I can see her mouth move in my periphery as she silently reads the words to herself. It takes me a few extra seconds to read the explanation because of my momentary distraction.

“Huh.” Fat stares at me and tilts her head to the side. “So yours would be Fozzie Bear.”

I love Fozzie, don’t get me wrong, but as a representation of me? “Beg pardon?”

“He loves puns, easy to ridicule, rather dim-witted, huge ass, proud of the fact that he can wiggle his ears…” Fat’s voice trails off when she catches the you-are-all-kinds-of-wrong gaze I throw at her. “Don’t give me that look. I’ve seen you practice in the hall mirror.”

Crap. Busted.

“That doesn’t mean that I’m proud of it.” I move the laptop back onto the desk and mumble, “it’s a work in progress.” A muppet? She thinks my spirit animal is a muppet. I crabwalk back to my straightening iron to finish my hair. Why does Fat always have to be observant when I’m doing embarrassing things? Silence momentarily surrounds as I brush another section of my hair. “Well your spirit animal is Danny DeVito.” It’s suitable, but not the best choice as a depiction of Fat. My brain reels, thinking of the perfect match.

“That’s a person, you idiot.” Fat hasn’t moved since she came over to cheer on my Google search.

“Seth Rogan! It’s Seth Rogan!” I yell over her words, but somehow still manage to catch what the feline says. “You’re a cat. You should have a spirit human, don’t you think?”

“You might be onto something here, boss. Seth Rogan, you say? I just watched a YouTube video where he taught me how to roll a cross joint.” Fat’s  paw stokes her long whiskers, seemingly content with my decree.

“Exactly. You’re a huge nip-head. I’m sure if you had the thumbs to roll catnip into joints you’d be all over it. You’ve got that weirdo laugh that I love for some reason, your hair is fluffy, and I find you funny yet charmingly offensive. Aside from Seth Rogan making movies, I’m sure you and he live essentially the same day-to-day life.”

This pleases the feline. She purrs contentedly. “Well done, boss. For once, you have pleased me. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to get stoned. I’ll be back when the munchies get the better of me. Wocka Wocka!”

“Fozzie Bear? Really?”

Because I Love You…

“How’s the V.D. going?” Fat jumps up on the desk beside me and stares at the open window on my laptop. The pictures of shrimp and noodles momentarily capture her attention.

I glare at her. “Can you let that go already? It’s not my fault syllabus and syphilis sound similar. It was 2008; get over it.”

“Let’s reminisce once more for old time’s sake.” Fat snickers as she repeats a quote that has haunted me for the last six years, “I checked out the syphilis from my Marketing professor. That shit sucks.” The feline’s head dips down as she laughs, her forehead rests on the edge of the computer screen. “That poor woman. If only she knew the accidental lies you told about her.”

“You done?” I watch Fat’s belly jiggle as the laugh gradually works its way out of her system. Thankfully, this was a sentence shared with a feline and not another human.

A grey paw dabs the moisture from her left eye. “You are too precious, boss. I meant, how’s the Valentine’s Day going?”

“Huh?” My brain takes a moment to process the fact that her previous question was not, in fact, about venereal disease.

“Today. It’s Valentine’s Day.”

“Uh huh.” My finger uses the touchpad on the laptop to scroll through the page one more time. I’m not sure why, I called twenty minutes ago to order the food. Now I’m wishing I added the spring rolls. Damn it.

“Maybe you didn’t hear me. It’s Valentine’s Day.”

I stop scrolling and my head tilts to look at Fat. “Did you finally give up on the phony therapist thing and decide to become the world’s most annoying calendar instead? I’m aware that it’s Valentine’s Day.” I stress the word for her benefit.

“And you’re here with me waiting for Chinese food to arrive. You must be what they call an old school romantic.” Fat silently moves to sit behind the computer screen.

Fuck it; I’m starving. I get up and open the door to the snack cupboard. Puffy Cheetos. Yes. The bag crinkles as I pinch the sides and pull the plastic open. I don’t respond to Fat. Instead she watches me snack on the toxic orange puffs. After only a couple Cheetos, the fingers of my right hand become coated in a fine simulated-cheese dust.

“Why are you staring at me like that, Fat?”

Her head has lopped to the side, and her mouth hangs slightly open in a disgusted kind of way. “I was so surprised when you landed yourself a man but it would appear that you have no desire in keeping him. And he loves you in spite of the V.D.”

“I don’t have V.D.”

“That’s not the rumour around your old campus.” Fat smiles with that all too familiar evil glint in her eye.

“You’re an asshole.”

Fat shakes her head insistently. “No, you’re the asshole. Today of all days you need to give Boyfriend attention and show some kind of emotion of the loving variety. He puts up with all of your stupid shit and your one redeeming quality is that you call to order Chinese food? Happy Valentine’s Day indeed.” The bitch feline seems genuinely disappointed in my lack of Valentine effort. I close the laptop leaving orange smudges from my fingertips.

“Christ.” I sit and think for a moment. “I have to do something, don’t I?”

Fat quickly nods, “I would.”

“Well fuck me,” As the words come out of my mouth I glare at the cat, “Swallow those words in your mouth right now. The V.D. train has left the station. No more comments. You’re done.”

Fat steps back with fake surprise mimicking a young  ingénue, “I would never…”

“Shut up, Fat.” I wipe my Cheeto fingers on my jeans and grab my purse. I holler in the most romantic tone I’m capable of – something that makes me sound like a bona fide woodsman, “Boyfriend, grab your coat, we’re going out.”

Boyfriend comes out of the bedroom, delightfully surprised that the plan is no longer to stay in tonight doing nothing.

God damn it, Cupid. You win this round.

An afterthought: I forgot about the Chinese food. Probably won’t be allowed to order from there anymore…

All Kinds of Fancy and Two Kinds of Assholes

“No. No-no-no-no. Nuh uh. This isn’t happening.” Fat’s eyes grow huge staring at the bejewelled collar in my hands. “Just because you’re decked out like Liberace doesn’t mean I have to be.”

My advance slows. “Decked out like… what do you mean?” I’m not wearing any more jewellery than usual: necklace, a few rings, earrings. Nothing ostentatious. Not like I’ve all of a sudden decided I adore sequined rose-coloured glasses or a tiara made of the feathers from hundred-year-old Great Horned Owls.

“You’re not fancy enough for diamonds.” Fat’s eyes stare from the purple feline jewels I hold to my second set of earrings. She dons a fake English accent, “Off for high tea at the Denny’s? Just remember: cross your legs at the ankles – you’re not a common whore, and bring me home what’s left of your Grand Slam. Pinkies up, dear.”

Defensively, my right hand reaches up to touch the diamond studs. “The mocking is a bit much.”

Fat’s shoulders hunch when I take another step closer to where she sits on the desk. Her eyes dart from the collar in my hand to my face, and back to the collar. She fishes quickly for something to say to prevent my drawing any nearer. “So you decided you like the earrings he gave you after all. What changed your mind?” The mocking in her tone evaporates as she fishes for what sounds like sincerity.

I remember opening the gift from Boyfriend and how feelings of adoration and overwhelm formed the strangest hybrid of internal conflict. Fat’s right. I’m not fancy enough for diamonds. That was my worry when I let my mouth control the situation instead of my logic asking, “Would you be offended if I returned these?” The answer is yes. Yes he would. Boyfriend didn’t have to say it, the look of disappointed shock talked as much as a drunk bitch at a house party.

Rather than verbally call myself an idiot, my hand slaps my forehead when I remember deflating his excitement with my lack of tact. This seems to please Fat, as she smiles when my self-slap leaves behind tingling pink skin. It’s not enough that I hate myself, but my fingers hate me too. Not cool, digits.

I perch on the edge of the desk beside Fat. She sits rigidly, though the reason for her hyper-awareness to my proximity is lost on me. “It wasn’t my best moment, was it?” My face scrunches as I brace myself for confirmation.

“Doesn’t even make the top thousand, boss. You are your own special kind of disillusioned idiot.” Fat chuckles, “I know you’re not good at relationships, but rule number one if you’re ever given anything made out of diamonds: be gracious. Not like he bought you a diamond chuck wagon.”

“A diamond chuck wagon is at least six different kinds of awesome. No word of a lie, I would use that every single day.”

Fat says nothing, just shoots me a your-mother-clearly-threw-you-out-of-a-second-floor-window-as-an-infant look.

I take my phone out of my pocket and take a quick selfie. Fat peers over my shoulder as if she expects the photo to be of somebody else. I zoom in and see how I look with diamonds in my ears. “I look…” I know exactly what would make me enjoy this picture more, “like I need bigger diamonds. At least a few carats. Maybe a necklace and some glittery goodness for my fingers.” I feel my eyes grow wide with greed and notice at the same time that there’s still a bejewelled collar still tucked in the palm of my hand.

With as much speed as I can muster, I grab Fat and belt the collar around her neck. Her ears point backward and she glares at me with the look of a serial killer.

“Fat, you look so pretty!”

“Get this shit off of me. Get this shit off of me right now.”

I open the camera app on my phone again and start taking some pictures. “Hey, what happened to rule number one? Be gracious, Fat.”

Her green eyes glare directly at the camera. “That rule only applies to real diamonds, you disgusting wench.”

The Good Doctor

“What the fuck happened to the apartment?” I let out the growl of a lion, and I begin my hunt for the guilty party. She won’t get away with this, not on this lion’s pride.

In the kitchen, buttery footprints stray across the counter leading away from the butter dish. On closer examination, it appears the butter has entered puberty, as it now has hair where it didn’t before. I’ll kill her. On the opposite counter near the sink, my abandoned morning coffee apparently decided to commit suicide while I was out. The mug thrust itself off the counter, dying instantly upon impact. Cold coffee remains leaking out onto the kitchen floor is a scene few can bear to witness. Mutt cowers under the desk as I circle from the kitchen and stalk into the living room. The corner of the couch has become the victim of merciless claw marks. The plant on the coffee table, now uprooted, has left dirt all around the pot and on the carpet.  I peek in the bedroom and the only thing I notice is an indent on my pillow, likely where the great pest decided to take an afternoon siesta.

Today I write a book: Feline Homicide: A DIY ProjectInternational Bestseller guaranteed. Were I a beefed-up goon, this is the part where I ball a hand into a fist and crack all the knuckles simultaneously.

Coming out of the bedroom, I catch sight of Fat in my peripheral. She sits on the closed lid of the toilet seat, paw raised as though she’s testifying in court. I look down at the floor to see the Charmin, unrolled and covering the floor in a sea of white ribbon.

“Fat. Seriously? I was gone for two hours.”

Fat’s raised paw moves almost too quickly to see. She reaches out, gives the remaining toilet paper a swat and we both watch another few layers of ass paper slide to the ground.

Unapologetic, the feline shoots me a judgemental look. “Tsk tsk.” She shakes her head. “I suppose this is what happens when you leave Mutt in charge. If you recall, this sort of nonsense doesn’t happen on my watch.” A malicious smile contentedly resides on her face.

I think back to my departure. As is normal before I shut the door behind me, I tongue-in-cheek make the first animal I see the deputy of the apartment. Today, it happened to be Mutt. I proclaimed that the little doofus was in charge in my absence and left without a second thought. It would seem that it struck a sore spot with the good doctor.

Fat looks down, contentedly, at her mayhem. “Still, we’re in better shape than when you’re the one in charge, oh fearless leader.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I crouch down to start gathering up the unravelled toilet paper.

Fat jumps down and rubs her side along my kneecap. “Bad decisions decline when you’re out of the home, boss. One does have to admit, it is easier to succumb to boredom when your dumb ass isn’t around, hence…” Her eyes glance at the mess I’ve managed to bundle together before she proceeds to lick a paw that still gleams from the butter.

Tremendous silence reverberates off the bathroom walls. I’m the kind of mad where it’s uncertain if I’m going to lash out verbally or physically. It’s the tip of the precipice where one more jerk remark from Fat will declare which side I’m on. Her fate is in her own hands. I’m kind of hoping that this ends with me drowning her in the toilet.

I see something hidden on the floor behind the toilet. Curiosity is anger’s kryptonite; inquisition is to rampage as a fire extinguisher is to anything I attempt to cook. Reaching out, I grab the wire object: eyeglasses from a plastic Santa who is either stuffed in a plastic bag and hidden in the hall closet, or stuffed in a plastic bag and taken to the garbage bin out back.

I point the spectacles in Fat’s direction when I ask: “This is a play to get me to stay home with you more? Are you suggesting that this poor behaviour is an attempt to extort therapy sessions where I play the part of your dim-witted patient? You are a terrible shrink, Fat.”

Fat taps her nose when I figure out the motivation behind her afternoon asshole endeavors. “But I’m an awfully good listener.”

Office Hours: I am the Black Knight

“You realize that you spend about one-third of your life acting like a two-year-old.” Fat cozies up beside me on the couch as I fume in front of my laptop.

The computer sits open on the coffee table while I stare over the screen of the teal PC at Boyfriend – who currently occupies my beautiful writing desk playing a game of fictional adventure. Noise cancelling headphones cover his ears and keep Boyfriend safe within his questing bubble. My stiff fingers hover over the keyboard, as they have been doing for the last several minutes as I stare over at Boyfriend who is understandably oblivious to my discontent.

“Am not.”

“You know,” Fat yawns, “he’s a very accommodating guy. If you told him you wanted to work at the desk, he’d be happy to oblige.” Fat tucks her paws under the folds of her fur, staring over at Boyfriend with admiration. “This isn’t a white knight/black knight situation; you’re fighting for a cause that’s not worth it. Back the pony up, put the lance away, and call it a shift.”

Finally, I tap out a quick sentence. “I’m all too well aware of his good nature.” I read the words that result from my lackluster concentration. Utter crap. I backspace until all stupidity is dissolved by the cursor. “I just want him to know what I want without having to tell him what I want, okay?”

Fat throws me a sideways stop-making-yourself-sound-like-a-dumb-ass stare. “Based on that last admission, I’m going to throw a guess out there and suppose you’re surfing the crimson wave.”

That’s a familiar turn of phrase. “Have you been watching Clueless?”

“It’s on Netflix.” Fat smiles sheepishly.

An automatic reflex to being caught lightening up when I’m determined to remain bitchy and cold, the corners of my mouth bend downward and I scowl. “This is ruining my day. He’s purposely trying to sabotage any chance I have at getting some writing done. I should be a knight; I’d pull my sword from its sheath and behead both of you.” My eyes pull themselves into slits as I look at her, “Your head will be thrust on the tip of my sword as a symbol of my victory.”

“Sounds like some weird-ass erotica,” the grey feline mumbles. Fat, annoyed that I’m not listening to her, looks to the heavens to silently ask for help. I see her flash a see-what-I’m-working-with shrug to whatever is up there beyond the ceiling. A moment later she turns back to me, “I may have given you a bad metaphor. The idiot that you are took it to fuel this internal idea of yours that you and Boyfriend aren’t a team and are instead opposing forces. You couldn’t be more histrionic right now.”

“Don’t take that tone with me, Fat.” I angle the laptop away from her eyes and open a new window. I search “histrionic”.

“I’m over-dramatic and tend to be self-centred?” The words fight their way through clenched teeth. My eyes skim another paragraph, and the more I read, the more my armour begins to rust. “Balls.” I close the laptop and sit back on the couch.

“Hey, babe?”

I look up, Boyfriend’s headphones rest around his neck. “You haven’t written yet today, you want to…” Boyfriend points at the desk and mimes frenzied fingers typing. “I’m going to take Mutt out.”

“Reads Dostoyevsky and he’s thoughtful?” Fat snickers, “He might be too good for you, boss.”

I stand and pick up my laptop, “Be a little more sensitive, Fat. I’m on my period.”

An Interruption of Routine

“The wretched hag glared at me as she hobbled into the room. Today she donned her best house coat, her usual frock was likely misplaced in her pig pen of a bedroom. It was a sad sight to behold: her askew ponytail, dried out like her woebegone netherlands, did her no favours – not that anything would clean up such a mess of human flesh. Her eyes were puffy and instead of bags, she carried trunks under her eyes. ‘Makeup is for the young,’ she’d answered when I asked why there was no longer an effort put into her appearance. I watched the old lady scratch her arm, leaving me no doubt that her psoriasis had flared up again. Her youth had long since abandoned her, leaving the woman with an angry face, deepened with wrinkles.”

“Why are you narrating inaccurately?” I grab the cereal box from the top of the fridge. My hand disappears into the brightly coloured cardboard and I pull out a handful of Froot Loops. Toucan Sam and I reunite for yet another breakfast together – longest relationship of my life. I look at the backward clock on the wall; mutt and I are going to have to run instead of walk if Fat insists on interrupting my pre-work routine.

Fat remains seated on the counter beside the kettle. “Hip replacement ebbs in the east, as the woman watches her twenties sink into the west.”

“Seriously, stop that.” A couple loops succumb to gravity when another handful of colourful sugar cereal fills my mouth. My anger is put at bay when my teeth crunch the Froot Loops into dust.

“Say goodbye to the hoochie clothes and get yourself fit for some bifocals and adult diapers. Just such a shame you never accomplished anything in your life.” Fat shakes her head with insincere sympathy before her bipolar switch flips. “Get out of here. She’ll be with you in a minute.” Fat snaps at the doorway. I turn to see Mutt staring at his leash with despair, his brown eyes uncertain and concerned that he hasn’t been outside to water the lawn. Fat hisses and Mutt slinks around the corner. She flips back to feigning concern. “They always say it’s never to late…”

“Bitch, please. I’ve accomplished plenty.”

Fat leans forward, suddenly, with genuine interest. “Do tell, boss.”

The first smile of the day lights up my face and I set the cereal box down beside the stove, “That time I was at the Keg on Granville Island with the Besties. From across the table  I spat the perfect arch of water right into Jeffy’s face.” As I tell her, my finger points to my mouth and then draws an invisible curve through the air as I relive the moment. I cross my arms as though the stance is the raconteur equivalent of a touchdown celebration. Total win in my books.

Fat sighs with exasperation. “Okay. I’d like to respond with a couple of things: One, that’s not an accomplishment — more like an asshole move that you’re unquestionably proud of. Two, I’m not going to lie, that’s fucking awesome. And three, as  your therapist, I urge you to actually try with this little exercise.” Fat hops down and quickly ingests one of the orange Froot Loops that I dropped. “Have you accomplished anything on your bucket list?”

I fold the top of the cardboard box back together, and slowly return it to the top of the fridge to buy myself some time to think. What have I been doing for almost thirty years? Is a bucket list something that I require? I see the dog leash hanging on the hook in the kitchen and I grab it, thinking that I can use this as an opportunity to run from a conversation I don’t want to have.

“I’ve had a helluva lot of fun. That counts for something, right?” I don’t want to look at Fat to see her reaction. I’m sure it’s something pretentious. Instead, I clip the leash to Mutt’s collar, quickly slide on my runners and grab my house keys. She’s just going to offer me something I need to hear but don’t want to.

“You might want to change–”

“I live for today, Fat!” Interrupting, I open the front door and slam it behind me as Mutt and I leave.

It is on the other side of the door that I hear the end of her sentence through the thin walls of the apartment building, “–out of your pyjamas and house coat if you’re going outside.”