Muted Logic and Amplified Stupidity

“You think this shit is the Lion King? Stop this nonsense and put me down.” Fat’s ears flatten with displeasure as I hold her up by the armpits so she can look out the glass door of the patio.

Instead of acquiescing to the feline’s request, I sling one arm around her and press Fat next to my armpit like a football. The talons of her back feet dig into my hip as I point out the window. Through the torrent of rain and just beyond the sidewalk on the other side of the street is a portly man scrambling after a French bulldog puppy. The little white dog’s tail wags as the man tries his best to catch him. A leash trails from the dog’s collar as he bounds across the soggy grass obviously delighted with the game he thinks they’re playing.

“You asked what made me laugh. Well, there you go.” My nail taps against the glass.

Fat’s back legs relax and she lets me hold her without a fuss. She stares, perplexed as the puppy outmanoeuvres the middle-aged man.

“Would you look at that little fucker bob and weave. You’d think he was part boxer.” Fat turns to flash me a satisfied smile, “See what I did there?”

“Dog joke. Clever.” I don’t smile back. She doesn’t need the encouragement. I have no connection to this man, yet I’m really rooting for him to snare that dog and get out of the rain.

Fat’s eyes are still on my face, “I’m not certain I understand or particularly enjoy the look on your face right now.”

“It’s called hope, Fat. I would really like to see him catch his dog. He seems nice.”

“Do you say that on account of the jolly Kris Kringle physique?” Fat’s grey head slowly turns to look out the window just in time to see the fellow’s foot stomp on the end of the leash.

You go, fifty-or-so-year-old-man. I’m proud of you. He bends and gets a good grip on the end of the leash and takes off, having to pull the pup along a few paces until the dog is made aware that playtime is over and it’s time to go.

“No. Because he’s a dog owner. That’s how you can tell.”

“…tell that he’s a nice person you mean?” Fat squints and watches the man and his pet briskly walk down the street, rushing to get somewhere dry. “Do you have any evidence to support this claim?”

“I have a dog. I’m a nice person.” Fat squirms until I release her from my grip.

She jumps up on the piano bench. “That solves the mystery,” She amplifies her sarcasm as though I’m slow and wouldn’t understand otherwise. “If anything it just proves that any idiot can own a dog.”

I suppose that’s… true? Though, in my own defense, I’m not an idiot I just make bad decisions sometimes. I draw the curtains and turn on the living room lamp. A warm glow takes over the room.

“Any other unfounded wisdom you’d like me to dispel for you? I have no plans tonight. Come on, boss. Tell me another.” The way she sits on the bench I expect her to lift her paws to the ivory keys and lay down some Chopin.

She has this weird power over me that I can’t help but do as she says. “Gangsters don’t drink cappuccinos.” It lacks a certain level of danger and undermines a tough exterior. Let’s see you prove that one wrong, kitty.

She turns to look at me over her shoulder, eyebrows arched in a way that makes me feel stupid. “Really? Who do you think invented them? Italian mobsters brought them to this country in 1868 because they needed a beverage that wouldn’t impair their judgement when it came to conducting business and,” her voice gets hoarse as she mimics the Godfather, “lookin’ out for the family.”

She came up with that far too quickly for it to be a lie – didn’t lose eye contact with me either. Fat does read a lot. It must be true. The look she offers invites me to challenge her history lesson or come up with another fact to convince her of any sound logic in my possession.

“The tell-tale sign of a pirate isn’t a Jolly Roger tattoo, a peg leg, or saying ‘Arr’; it’s a captain hook hand. The only people in history known to have hooks for hands are pirates.” My arms cross over my chest, challenging her to unravel that pearl of wisdom.

“Or serial killers.”

Damn it. I must be more stupid than I thought. I feel my mouth open with the intention to say something, but all my words have disbanded and I’m left in the living room looking like a guppy.

“I bet you thought of the two of us you were the creature of higher intelligence.” Fat turns back to the piano and her paws lift and fall on the keys, playing the familiar three-note tune of the plot thickening. “Dun Dun Duhhhhhh”

“Hearing you play the music was enough, Fat. I don’t need you to say it too.”

“Can’t blame me for thinking I have to spell it out for you.”

The Place Incentive Comes From

“That is art. When it heals, it’s going to look so bad ass.” Fat gets closer to inspect my forearm.

“Proximity to my slapping hand isn’t a good idea right now, Fat.” I shove the feline away from the bleeding scratches she’s left on my arm. This is the last time I take an afternoon nap on the couch without a firearm at my side.

Fat sits straight and points down her nose at me. “From what I understand, chicks dig scars. You could be thanking me for taking some initiative.”

I feel my eyes ping-pong back and forth between the arguments from my left and right brain.
Just ask her and she’ll explain herself.
Or you could kill her.
She might have some kind of innocent logical reason – maybe it was perceived self-defense.
Or you could forgo the excuse and merely kill her.
You do flail in your sleep.
You could make it look like a suicide. Art project!
It’s a sound argument from both sides. I sigh.

“Initiative for what, Fat?” God damn her knowing that she’s not the only one in the apartment with a curious nature. I wipe the blood off my arm with my fingers. I pause, look to the smeared scratches on my forearm and let the visual register. My neck swivels slowly to my left hand and I feel the familiar crease in my forehead as I focus my DNA-painted fingerprints. Well… that was stupid and accomplished nothing. Where was the logic on that one, brain?

“I’m hungry. You haven’t had dinner. We both eat chicken. I thought I’d get some chicks over here and we could have a bit of a poultry fest.” Fat smiles, her fangs make me think she’s more suited as Dracula’s house cat – she can go mind whammy him. “Make it a bit of a wing night on the couch? You’ve got some beer, we can pretend to be a couple of dudes and watch the game.”

Watch the game on the couch? I feel bile rise in my throat just thinking about sitting through whatever sports show is on right now. I had to listen to the supposed logic of my left brain. This always happens. Not anymore. Left brain, prepare yourself for the Phineas Gage treatment. Things worked out well for him, didn’t they? It’ll have to be done through force and not a rock-blasting accident, but such is life.

I groan as I sit up and reach for the pen on the coffee table, “You don’t know me at all.”

“Calm down, drama queen. I’m just yanking you. You’re wasting away on the couch napping when you’ve had a full night’s rest. Don’t lose your ambition to laziness. Get your ass over to your computer and work on that book you claim to be writing.” Fat’s tone get’s sugary sweet almost too quickly. Her green eyes stare, unblinking, as she inches backward a half-foot.

Oh. Left brain agrees that her joke makes some kind of sense. My advance to impale a Papermate through my frontal lobe ceases and I drop the pen back on the table. There’s something unsettling about this cheerleader facade she’s working. I don’t trust it.

“I’ll write once you tell me the real reason you scratched the hell out of my arm.”

Fat licks her paw and rubs behind her ear with nonchalance. “Boredom. You were sleeping and I saw opportunity.”

Right brain, what say you?

Kill her.

The Medusa Effect

“Complete and utter double standard.”

Fat glares at me when I stumble into the apartment well after the witching hour. She’s throwing that kind of glare I used to get from my parents when I was a teenager and out at mysterious locations with strangers for undetermined amounts of time; it’s that kind of frown that expresses displeasure and also has that, you-better-explain-to-me-just-where-you-were-tonight sour mug. This look isn’t foreign to me.

“It probably is.” I drop my keys on the carpet, but they end up sliding slightly under the hall table. I hope I remember where they are in the morning or it’s going to make future me very angry at present me. Present me doesn’t need that pressure right now; I’m having enough trouble taking off what my crazy granny refers to as my shit-kicker boots. And yes, I may have had a difficult time getting my key into the apartment door’s key hole, but knowing where they can be found is a different situation altogether. I collapse backward on my ass, continuing the struggle to free myself from footwear. Don’t fret, future me, I’m confident that my memory will work in the morning.

“Whatever is going through your head right now, you look very proud of yourself. Do you need help taking that second boot off?” Fat watches as I pull on the black heel, but it remains stuck to my foot. Gravity pulls harder than usual and I hear the sound of the buckles rattle when my foot falls on the floor.  Exhaustion teams up with gravity and together they pull my torso until I flop backward; I lie back on the ground, quitting. I don’t even care that I haven’t vacuumed in a long while and I’m currently nesting on a bed of Fat’s sloughed-off, dandruff-riddled excess hair.

“I’m just fine, thanks.” My body turns to stone, and I’m trapped forever with asymmetrical feet.

“Won’t let me catch birds out on the balcony, but she comes home wearing evidence of flamingo homicide. Did you take this drunken display to the zoo?” Fat sits just above my head so when I look up at her she appears upside-down.

“I’m not drunk. I’m just tired and I’ve never even seen a real flamingoo.” Even though I’m pretty certain I don’t care, I try to brush the small pink feathers off my shirt with both hands. The pastel feathers don’t move. My brain may be alert, but my fingers have given in to drunkenness. I know without trying that they lack the finesse to pluck dwarf flamingo quills from my sweater, and I continue my streak of quitting things that are currently difficult.

“Based on the pronunciation of that last word, you’re clearly fine.”

I nod, pleased that I’ve fooled her. I don’t even care that it feels like my face is smiling like a doofus. “I went to a sex toy party and there were boas a-plenty. I wore a pink one.”

“Never would have guessed.” Fat walks around and climbs up onto my chest. She’s heavy, but I rationalize that the effort required to get her off of me is much more unappealing than a cracked sternum. I’ll just duct tape my bones back together in the morning.

“You smell really weird. Like a strange collection of food and lotion.”

“Dangerous stuff, Fat. I’ll tell you now: ‘edible’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘delicious’. When it says ‘edible’ on a bottle of lube it actually means: if you get this in your mouth, it won’t kill you.”

Fat’s face becomes more serious, “Let’s just move beyond that last thing you said. You make it too easy sometimes, boss.”

“Smell this though.” I lift the outside of my wrist like I’d asked her to tell me what time it read. Her wet nose carefully moves forward and she takes a gentle whiff.

“Subtle. What is it?”

“Honey dust for balls.”

“Excuse me?” Fat sits up and her paw goes protectively to her nose.

“Well it’s for a shit ton of other things, sheets, skin, lots of things – it repels moisture and prevents chaffing. Perfect for balls.”

“I don’t care for this game.” Her grey head shakes from side-to-side like I’ve disrespected her with blasphemous indecency. “It would appear you had a good time tonight. I haven’t seen you in such good spirits in a while.”

“Team estrogen tonight, Fat. It’s always the answer.”

“Girl time is good for you. Staying cooped up in this apartment is bound to drive anybody crazy.” Fat walks quietly over to the bedroom doorway. “You going to make it to bed?”

“Going to go out on a limb and opt for a big, fat nope on that one.” I try to roll over onto my side, but it’s hard to move when one feels like they have locked eyes with Medusa. “I will see you in the morning, Fat.”

“I’ll feel better leaving you to pass out if you turn your head to the side.” She watches as I struggle to move my cheek against the floor. “Atta girl.”

Seeking the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

“Awfully quiet around here.”

I don’t see Fat until the light from the fridge casts its light across the kitchen floor; she sits right in the middle of the laminate. Like a startled old lady, I clutch my chest with fright. Perhaps not so much fright as an attempt to uphold decency, my lilac robe isn’t exactly tied tightly and my birthday suit needs to be ironed. I’d rather be confronted by the four horsemen of the apocalypse than this feline with self-appointed shrink cred. I grab what I need, and Fat vanishes from sight when the fridge door closes. God bless darkness.

I unscrew the cap of the bottle of orange juice. “Boyfriend’s gone for the weekend. Off on a quick road trip to see some of his boyfriends.” With more momentum than I expect from myself, I tip the bottle backward down my throat. Twin rivers of OJ pour out the corners of my mouth, dribble down my chin, neck and non-cleavage and get absorbed by my house coat. Shit, that’s cold. Once it dries it’ll be sticky too. I need to switch to water when I wake up thirsty at two a.m. “I’m surprised you weren’t aware of his departure. You’re always eavesdropping and scrutinizing everything. Feels like this whole apartment is under surveillance.” As a classy dame would, I gently dab my face on the sleeve of my oversize house coat.

“It’s behavioural observation.”  There’s a break in her speech where I hear what sounds like a yawn. “Speaking of, I can’t help but wonder why you shuffle around stubbing your toes in the dark when there’s nobody here to disturb.”

The sound of a small click causes the entire kitchen to light up. My fingers pull away from the switch. “Habit, I suppose.” The throb in two of my left toes is well-founded; they’re on the verge of being classified as maroon. I’m the proud owner of one normal-looking foot and one damn ballerina’s foot. Gross.

“Any plans while he’s away?” Fat hopefully goes and sits next to her food dish. She looks at her skewed reflection in the bottom of the metal bowl and up at me. Your subtle persuasion won’t work on me this time, Fat.

Making sure the lid is secure on the juice, I put it away. “Estrogen-fuelled weekend.”

“Lesbian time. Got it.” One of Fat’s eyes shoots me a quick wink. She’s still under the strong impression that in the past I’ve been sweet on the ladies as well as the fellas. This wonderful miscommunication is due to an unfortunate story I once shared with her about a time I took a pie to the face. Fat is under the strong impression that this is a euphemism. I’ve given up trying to correct her; it would make her theory all the more concrete to find out it was a cream pie I took to the kisser. Coconut cream if I recall correctly, I was too busy trying to salvage my makeup to press the detail of flavour into the pages of my memory.

“I’m just hanging out with my best gals, we’re in need of a good pow-wow. Nice to see them in person as opposed to texting or Facebook.”

“Call it what you will.”

I sigh, and try to get the conversation away from sexuality. “The only fellow I’ll be spending any time with this weekend is Mutt.”

“Yeah. Where is he?” She doesn’t even whip her head around to pretend to care.

“I don’t know. Sleeping. Lazy bastard, that one.” I tighten the tie on my house coat.

Fat doesn’t respond. Instead she looks helplessly at her still-empty bowl. She’s almost instantly struck with another idea to get what she wants. Playing nice is difficult for Fat.

She scuttles over and weaves in a figure eight around my ankles. “Boss, you deserve a weekend to yourself. You should make yourself a massage appointment or a pedicure or–” She stops abruptly and starts screaming, “MY EYES, MY EYES!”

Full of concern, I kneel beside Fat.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong with your eyes?” I look up at the kitchen light; the bulbs were just changed. Those energy-saving bulbs are fucking bright. How many watts are those?

Her voice sounds weak, like she’s on her deathbed muttering her last words, “I… I shouldn’t have looked up. I’ve never been fond of pie.”

Surviving the Flood

“Coffee incident!” I scream like I’m in a bad teen horror movie and it’s my turn to die. The hot liquid races across the desk, attempting to consume everything in its path. My oafish hands do what they can to stave off the coffee and save the insightful anecdotes I’d scribbled throughout the workday on random post-its. The one that reads, ‘You are what you eat: ginger eats ginger” is lost to the caffeinated monster. I’d obviously written that little gem before consciousness kicked in around lunch; it seemed clever at the time, but now reads like a porn title. The small square of pale yellow transforms into brown mess. Better to sacrifice the idiot thoughts and save the intelligent ones.

“I ate too much. My hearteries hurt.” Fat’s whiny voice sounds like it’s coming from the couch, but I can’t waste precious seconds to see if that’s true.

“Arteries, dumb ass. Not hearteries.” The annoyance contributes to the line that’s been slowly etching its permanence into my forehead. “Coffee incident!” I repeat the words with more volume and urgency as I do my damnedest to keep a hold on the books, computer and notes from the desktop. I panic and start saving random things that don’t require rescue: the now-empty coffee cup, an unopened bag of corn chips, thumb tacks. I’m not good in stressful situations. I just hope that prohibition never gets reinstated; I don’t know how I’d fare without my coping mechanism.

Boyfriend runs into the room, as a hero should, grabs a dish towel and tends to my mess. Tense seconds go by and I wonder if there will be any post-it note survivors. Boyfriend hides the remains. I’ve had enough trauma, it’s better to let the thoughts be free than mourn their demise. After close inspection of the surface, I tentatively set my pile of paper and electronics back down. Boyfriend dutifully disappears back into the bedroom to let me continue with my fictional nonsense.

“You know,” Fat kneads the arm of the couch as she buts in, “Yelling ‘Coffee incident’ until the calvary arrives to tend to your spillage issues doesn’t constitute cleaning up after yourself. You need to altar your behaviour.”

“Alter. Altar is a religious thing.” I correct without thinking. “My hands were clearly full. You saw. What else was I supposed to do?”

“Act like a grownup and figure it out for yourself. Use those brains you’re always trying to convince me you have.”

I begin to unstack my notebooks and paper from the unstable tower on the desk. I’m at a loss for rebuttal so I pretend I didn’t hear her.

“He says you’re difficult, you know.” Fat stops pawing the cushion and settles in, resting her head on her front arm. I don’t need to ask who she’s talking about. He just left the room.

“That’s not breaking news, he’s said that to my face.”

“Forgive me for being a bit of a septic, but I’m not certain I believe that. Did he call you anal retentive to your face too?” Fat’s eyes close, as though the conversation is over and it is time for a nap to commence. That’s a good move. I’ll have to steal that the next time I need an out. It’s the perfect balance of bitchy and cute; it’s a difficult hybrid to get away with.

“Skeptic.” I pause, finally realizing what she’s been doing. “You ass hat.”

 

Parenting Tactics of a Non-Mom

“This is going to do terrible things to Boyfriend’s uterus.” Fat sits on my lap as we stare at him playing with my eighteen-month-old godson, Jonah. “If his biological clock wasn’t ticking before…”

My nostrils flare out. I wish I had more control over my external responses. “This is terrible.” I shake my head. This is exactly how people get ideas about procreation. Introduce the perfect child to a want-to-be parent and thoughts begin to grow. Jonah is such a cute, well-behaved, clumsily hilarious baby – this stupid kid is going to ruin my life.

Fat and I watch, both appalled at the sheer enjoyment on Boyfriend’s face as he throws Jonah up into the air. Both the child and the man squeal like they’re estrogen-enriched. In unison, Fat and I shake our heads. I feign a dry-heave and Fat offers a judgemental, “Tsk tsk.” I scratch behind her ears. Good kitty.

“Get ready to have the talk with him after the parents come to retrieve their litter.”

“That’s not what it’s called for humans, Fat. We don’t birth in bulk nearly as often as your species.” I pet the length of her spine and she does that weird ass-in-the-air thing that cats do when you pet them just right. “Bet you fifty bucks his first sentence after the kid is gone has to do with us having children.”

His phone rings in the bedroom and Boyfriend leaves to go answer it.

“You’re on, boss. Except that will be his second sentence. His first will be some kind of comment about this specific child. You shouldn’t bet on human behaviour against a therapist.”

“Tanta, Tanta!” Jonah’s exuberance shows in his happy feet as he runs across the room with the tap-dancing finesse of Fred Astaire. That might be an oversell, but he moves quick, Fat jumps out of the way before the toddler collides into my knees. He laughs, and a gross line of drool flows out of his mouth and pools onto my jeans.

“As cute as you are disgusting.” I grab him under my arm like a football and grab a wet wipe from the diaper bag.

“I know what you’re thinking, Fat. I didn’t want to be called Auntie, so I opted for Tanta.” Fat follows behind us at a leisurely feline pace.

“I didn’t say anything.”

“Kitty.” Jonah points as Fat jumps up on the desk beside the neon green bag that is so bright I try not to look at it directly; I don’t want to risk damaging my retinas. The kid he hangs like a stuntman under my arm and flops around, arching his back at impossible angles to avoid the wet wipe to the face.

“Stay still. Stop. Stop this.” I end up dropping to my knees and putting Jonah in a baby headlock. “They should come out with a line of chloroform wipes for children. They’ll be clean and well-behaved. After all, they are even cuter when they’re unconscious. I’m sure any parent would agree.”

“You’re really good at this.” Fat cringes when I haphazardly throw the wipe and it lands beside her. “Maybe you should consider growing your own.”

“I’m not really into science projects, Fat.” I set the kid down and he tap-dances over to a plastic track with a ball fixed to a track and a scratch pad in the middle. Jonah reaches out and even with a gentle touch, gives the ball enough force to go around the track a couple times.

“That’s mine! Don’t let that slobbery miniature human touch my things!” Fat’s hair stands on end and her claws dig into the carpet with her displeasure. Her eyes fixate on the small white ball; it’s hard to take her outburst seriously when her head follows the circular motion of the toy’s movement.

Boyfriend comes back in the room and sees a familiar car out the window. “Mom and Dad are back. I’ll run him out to them.” Boyfriend scoops the tyke up into his arms and grabs the diaper bag and Jonah’s coat. Fat scuttles over and sits on the cardboard scratch pad on the cat toy as if to assert her ownership.

“Later, M.B.” I get up to give him a quick hug and the little bastard plants a wet kiss on the side of my face.

After they leave, Fat looks up at me as I wipe the slobber from my face. “M.B. as in…?”

“Mini Bestie, of course.”

Fat nods. “Right. Right. For future reference, he is never to touch my things.”

“Sure, Fat. Sure.”

We turn when we hear the door open and shut. Boyfriend smiles contentedly as he kicks off his shoes. “Isn’t he the best? I can’t wait until we have kids of our own.”

Fat’s displeasure instantly morphs into a winner’s smile. Looks like I’m out fifty bucks.

Dress Code for Hiding in Public

“I can’t believe this needs to be said,” Fat’s face hides behind a paw she holds against the bridge of her small nose as though she’s irritated, “You’re walking a dog, not a runway.”

I stare at her with annoyance as I grab the dog leash off the wall hook. “I’m aware of that, thank you.” As much as I try to force my voice to have a salty edge, it sounds more like a childish tone than anything else. One would think with the ocean only blocks away I would be able to draw some of its icy power, but no. I just pay more money to live near a giant body of water which I don’t particularly like to swim in. Balls.

“So, what’s with the get-up?”

“You obviously mean the awesome in which I am besotted.” I spin to show off my outfit and the tight purple dress doesn’t move. However, not being used to walking in heels, I go rather off-kilter and catch myself against the bedroom door frame. Fuck off, gravity.

“Not one for working the elegant angle, are you? Take a note from me, boss. There is nothing more elegant than fur.” To illustrate, Fat moves in a perfect circle, rotating her head as she turns to maintain eye contact. I would never vocalize this, but damn she can act cool. Once the fur fashion show is over, the cat then sits tall and proud beside the sneakers I would normally wear to take Mutt out.

“Are you suggesting that I scalp you and wear your fur? I’ve thought about it. There are days when it’s tempting, Fat.”

Her jaw drops, “Get PETA on the phone. Now.”

“Please. You know I’m joking. Animal cruelty makes me want to hurt humans.” I begrudgingly release the door frame and stand on my feet with the graceful balance of a cavewoman who just discovered that knuckles weren’t meant to drag on the ground.

“We’re on the same page. Good. So what’s with the fancy get-up if you’re not actually going anywhere?”

“I forget that people can still see me in public when I’m not wearing makeup or proper clothes…”

“You’re an amazon woman in five-inch heels, if you’re trying to hide from the general population I would have to say this is a tremendous failure.”

“I ran into a friend of mine from work the last time I walked Mutt. She always looks effortlessly amazing. It’s not fair. So I’m doing something about it.” I force a smile, even though the black pumps are stabbing my feet like a back-alley hoodlum.

“Can I be honest with you, boss?”

“Aren’t you always?” Balance escapes me and I fall ass over teakettle onto the floor. Fat turns to look at the wall in order to hold in her laughter as I achingly crawl to my knees.

“Christ.” Nope. I quit. I wrench the heels off my feet, throwing them down the hallway into the living room. Dangerous goods, these shoes. I stand with my hands on my hips, angrily fuming at the fact I spent money on those death traps. Damn this dress is uncomfortable. I strip it off, leaving it in the hallway while I dig through the laundry basket to find the jeans and t-shirt I wore yesterday. Yes. Comfort. Long strands of hair fall into my face as I bend to put on my sneakers. Fuck you, hair. I bind it with a hair tie in a sloppy bun. Better. Feeling less of a danger to myself and others.

“Sorry, Fat. You were about to say something.”

Fat looks me up and down with what I want to call approval, “Not important. You seem to have read my mind.”

A Guidebook for the Ill

“Brace yourself, pal, here comes the stewardess spiel.” Fat tilts her head in Boyfriend’s direction. She’s sitting in the office chair; it’s the perfect place for her to see me, hunched in the light of the refrigerator, in the kitchen and Boyfriend, in the fetal position, on the couch in the living room.

“There is orange juice here and another bottle on the bottom shelf if you need it.” I point at the items as I mention them, then kick the fridge door shut as I move down my list. I open the cupboard above the kettle, “Should you require tea it’s in the cupboard along with plenty of honey if you’re in a hot water with lemon kind of mood.” The cupboard slams shut with force after I ensure there is enough of both to withstand the next few days.

Fat watches as I enter the living room with purpose.

“If you’re going to throw up,” both hands point to the bathroom like it’s an emergency exit, “you know where the bathroom is located. If it’s a dire situation,” my index fingers extend to their full length as I indicate the glass door opposite, “please avoid ruining the furniture, carpet or my appetite and eliminate your stomach contents over the banister.” Seems disgusting, but it’ll give Creepo downstairs something to observe that won’t require him to employ his binoculars.

Boyfriend sniffles and nods. Fat buries her face under her paws to silence the laughter trying to escape.

I pick up the can of disinfectant and spray enough of it to sting my eyes and harm my lungs; it tickles my esophagus enough to solicit an irritated cough.

“While you’re in this state, please remember the following: don’t sneeze on me, don’t kiss me, don’t touch me, avoid breathing my air, don’t talk to me – text me if you need more orange juice, don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t exaggerate your condition. When you change your pyjamas, burn the infected ones. Don’t expect any sort of sexy nurse role playing. I don’t give sponge baths, I don’t administer cough syrup, I don’t take temperatures. I won’t call your mother. I won’t baby you and I’ll be out the door before I put up with any infantile behaviour.” I see Boyfriend’s eyes glaze over as he tries his damnedest to listen. “Chin up, I’m almost finished.” I scratch my head, trying to remember where I left off. “Right. The best meal you can expect is a can of soup and/or toast. I will not pity for you or lavish you with affection because neither will generate a result that will improve your condition; it just puts me closer to sharing your plague and I absolutely refuse.” My eyes look up to search the archives of my brain – everything that was there has moved out. “That about does it then. Stay hydrated and best of luck to you.”

I spin on my heel and head into the bedroom. I hear the gentle sound of scurrying footsteps behind me. Fat jumps up onto the bed as I grab the iPad off the night stand.

“Your bedside manner is really quite cold, isn’t it?”

I tap my finger on the icon to check my email. “Fat,” I look at her for a fraction of a second, “If I wanted to nurse people back to health, I’d have gone into a healthcare field.”

Fat cozies up to my pillow and curls herself into a grey ball of flabby fur with a cat face. “No empathy in you at all, is there?”

“This is the first time Boyfriend has been sick since we’ve been dating. I have to set a precedent for future illness. You’ve heard of how men become babies when they’re sick; if I’m all nice and Stepford to him, he’ll always expect it.” I shake my head emphatically, “No, no, Fat. If I wanted an infant right now I’d be somebody’s baby mama.”

The feline stares up at me, appalled.

“What, doc? Clearly you have an opinion. I’m not going to apologize for what just happened in there. He’s not dying, to my knowledge he hasn’t become a recent amputee.” I delete a bunch of junk mail.

“Your lack of compassion is astounding, boss. Makes me wonder why I didn’t consider you a sociopath sooner.”

“We’re not doing this right now, Fat.” I drop the iPad on the bed and grab Fat under her armpits and carry her into the living room.

Boyfriend stares at me, not risking a syllable to ask what I’m doing – he knows not to verbally prod the unbalanced. With a gentle lob, Fat sails over the coffee table and lands beside Boyfriend’s hip. “Here’s the cat for company. Use her as you would a hot water bottle or punching bag. Cough on her, vomit on her, she’ll just purr and be a sweetheart the whole while you’re infected. She’s compassionate like that.”

I’m Spinach?

“Dare I ask why you are eating a bowl of spinach leaves in the manner one typically munches potato chips?” Fat jumps up beside me on the couch. A leaf is pinched in my fingers, which pause on the way into my food hole. I look up from the phone in my other hand; I finish and send the text before I address the feline.

“Wonderful observation, doc.” My legs cross at the ankles as the coffee table magically transforms into an ottoman. It’s important to look for furniture pieces that double as other things when furnishing an apartment as small as my own. I also use the ottoman/table for a karaoke stage when I’m in that hazy place between drunk and passed out, but that’s another matter entirely.

“So…” The vowel sound continues for seconds longer than is necessary. Fat’s eyes stare inquisitively at the bowl of greenery tucked gingerly into the crook of my arm.

“The simplest ideas are by far the most brilliant. You recall the other day when you suggested I go on vacation?”

Fat nods.

“I thought you might. It really broke your heart after when you found out you wouldn’t be invited.” Fat’s head bends into the small bowl to look at the salad greens up close. She recoils almost instantly.

“S’okay. When you feel guilty you compensate by giving me enough cat treats to trigger diarrhea.” Her smile broadens and becomes murderous-clown kind of menacing. Note to self: convince Boyfriend to change the litter box.

“Gross.” Any desire to consume the spinach leaf held between my fingertips is gone. It falls freely back into the bowl. I bounce back from my disgust quickly; the upside of having three brothers is one gets a lot of practice repressing vomit-worthy thoughts. “So I might go to Ontario for a bit and I might go to Mexico. Maybe both. I don’t know. Still trying to figure it out.” If I could make both work, that would be seven kinds of sensational.

Fat’s head leans back as she dramatically rolls her eyes. “Oh yeah. In that case your current action makes the most sense in the world.” She frowns in judgmental afterthought, “Ontario?”

“One does not go on adventures with a fat ass, dear feline. Therefore, I’m recreating my snacking stance,” I proudly show off my lounging position with a grand arm sweep learned by watching Vanna White on Wheel Of Fortune over the course of my childhood. “I’m still in winter carb mode; I just need to dupe myself into thinking this,” I nearly empty the bowl as I grab a fist full of spinach and wave it under her nose, “is better than it actually is.”

“Seems like the perfect metaphor for your relationship. You’re the bowl of nasty ass spinach and Boyfriend has convinced himself that you’re potato chips.”

“A slight? Really?” I don’t know that I entirely disagree, but I feel like I need to defend my own honour.

It would appear that Fat doesn’t feel the need to expand on the parallel she has drawn. I’m sure my mind will obsess over this comparison for the forseeable future. I’m stunned into silence for a couple reasons, one of which is the cat’s next sentence. Fat’s pulls this line from the holster like a cowboy in the old west, “YOU GAVE ME DIARRHEA.”  I’m not certain how long she’s kept this line at the ready, but it’s a conversation ender.

Fat should write a book on how to win an argument. Sorry, honour, I can’t defend you against a sentence like that.

Office Hours: Two Steps Forward…

“What do you expect to get out of life?”

The wire-rimmed fake spectacles fall down the bridge of Fat’s nose when she looks up from a journal. I was under the impression that particular book of my brain matter was lost years ago; Fat must have led some sort of archeological dig to uncover it. There’s no telling what kind of my nonsense is scribbled in that book. Fat pushes the glasses back into position with the back of her paw as she sits pensively on the coffee table.

I roll onto my side to face her and almost fall off the couch. “You’re not even going to start with something easy like, ‘how was work?'” 

“Nope.” Fat doesn’t look up, her stare is transfixed on the journal page open in front of her. From upside down and slightly sideways, there’s no hope for me to read what has her attention. “Answer the question,” Fat’s tone is that of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada – slightly sing-song yet authoritative and forceful; it gets results. The page flips and Fat’s chin keeps tucked against her chest. It’s hard to have a conversation when I’m offered the top of her grey head instead of eye contact. I’m still not sure how she convinced me to give this another go. All of a sudden I’m on the couch and she’s telling me to make the most of our time together. We both know that she’s not a qualified therapist.

As I stumble through silence, Fat shoots me a momentary I’m-still-waiting glance. Her eyes succumb to the gravitational pull of my written words and for the short-term I’m rescued from her hard stare. That bitch is getting better at this, I’m actually considering how to answer the question.

“To have fun and make it worth my time.” I up-talk, as we Canadians do, making my words sound more like a question than a statement.

“Interesting.” Fat finishes what she was reading and completely disregards the journal as though it no longer holds importance. “And are you making the most of your time and having fun?”

“Not really,” The truth comes out before I even have a chance to filter it. Balls. Fat is going to relish this. My hand gently slaps the side of my face and stays there. I should know better by now, I really should.

Her eyes widen in surprise. “Can’t say I expected you to be so candid, boss. You’re usually so reluctant to share. Now I see you’ve been keeping your dance card rather full. Could one draw the conclusion that you’re not having as much fun as you would like?”

My hand remains glued to my face like a child pretending to be a pirate and turning their palm into a DIY eyepatch. “I’m not suggesting any discontent, Fat. I just feel like I need an adventure or something. I need to meet some strangers, create new stories. It’s boring and predictable around here. Frankly, it blows chunks.”

“I’ll try not to take that as a slight against my company.” Fat sits straighter and the glasses slip down her nose once again. “I need to get some contacts or something. It might be time to pop in for a visit with my optometrist.” Her paw pushes the front of the specs up her face.

Finally, my hand unsuctions from my face and moves to rest on my stomach. “Perhaps if you didn’t wear glasses you stole from an old plastic Santa Claus, it would be a non-issue. I’m quite certain your eyesight is fine.” I try to keep the tone light, but the stupidity of others is one of my hot buttons; the only stupidity I can stomach is that of my own creation.

 Fat doesn’t take my hint, and the phony eyeglasses remain on her furry face. “As for your issue, boss: May I suggest that you…” She drifts off mid-sentence and looks momentarily revolted. “Can you move that blanket?” She nods behind me to the chocolate throw lazily rolled up and left on the back of the couch. “The way it’s folded makes it look like a camel toe. I’m trying to offer some well-founded advice and I’m getting distracted by what looks like a fabric vagina near your head.”

Without turning, I reach backward and my fingers blindly search until they come across the soft fabric. It unravels as I throw it to the other side of the sectional. “You were saying?”

“You should go on vacation. Take some time and get away from everything normal. Where are they at with sending people to live on Mars?”

My arm hooks in an insincere aw-shucks move, “Missed the application deadline, Fat.” My look turns serious, “Besides, you know I don’t like space.”

“But you loved Star Tre–”

To drown out her acknowledgment of my secret shame – the latest films of the space franchise, I speak over her as loud and fast as possible, “Vacation. Yes. I’ll look into it.”