Skype Calls and Fat

“We are so far beyond not interested, pal. Bye-bye now.”

Fat’s paws press the back of the laptop. She uses her girth to close the old computer while I’m mid-Skype conversation. The feline’s abrupt dismissal of our video chat interrupts my story about finally exploring McLeod’s bookstore downtown. I suppose I didn’t need to mention that after an arduous hunt, I finally found a copy of Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. My cat is such a bitch cat; there will be no fairy tale endings on her watch – not even in bookstores.

Hinging from the hip, I try to stay in front of the camera and quickly sign off prior to hitting my chin on the desk and before Fat ends the call by clamping the computer shut. The grizzly-faced dude and I talk over each other in the few seconds we have left.

“I’m going to have to call you back.”

“Kat, what’s happening with your computer?” He’s unconcerned. The way he asks makes me feel that when stupidity happens in my presence, it’s not altogether unexpected. That is off-the-charts rude and presumptuous; perhaps I shan’t call him back. It seems jackassery is running rampant today.

The feline lets out a satisfied smirk and sits on the closed VAIO like it’s a throne. “Dodged a bullet there, eh? You’re welcome. I never thought I’d say this, Boss, but you can do better.” Fat’s tail hugs the perimeter of her meaty haunches.

My forehead wrinkles to accommodate the surprised lift of my eyebrows. “What’s that, now?” If she’s saying what I think she’s saying…

“Hate to see my prize pig settle for somebody like that blond schmuck.” Indicatively, a grey paw taps gently on the computer case.

Beyond any measure of comprehension, the term ‘prize pig’ doesn’t register as an insult; instead my thoughts briefly drift to the fridge contents and the possibility of bacon. In my humble opinion, a pre-dinner warmup is never a poor idea.

“There’s no accounting for taste, is there? It’s like he was oblivious to your terrible personality.” Fat’s musings coax my attention back from hunger.

“I’m going to stop you there, Fat.” My traffic cop hand rests inches from her wet nose. “What you’re thinking is eighty-thousand different kinds of disgusting.” I point to the corner of the desk at a framed picture that was taken a couple years ago at my mom’s house.

The feline sidles up beside it, almost pressing her face against the photo. “He’s already met your family?” The tone in her voice registers as revulsion.

“He’s my brother, you moron.”

Fat’s pupils expand and she stares, unblinking in my direction. Her cheeks puff out as her mouth stays shut, feigning a puke-like reaction. Gag sounds come from her throat as the feline oversells the dramatics. “V.C. Andrews really did a number on you, huh? I knew I shouldn’t have let you watch Flowers in the Attic.”

I stare at the ceiling. C’mon, brain, make this a Namaste situation… breathe in, breathe out. Do no harm to the furry idiot on the desk.

“So what’s up with your brother? Did you give him my regards?”

I shrug. “He somehow got the idea that I was plotting to murder my cat. For some reason he was trying to talk me out of it.”

“You know, I always liked that guy.”

Mornings in the Buff

“I’m not sure what makes you think this is acceptable behaviour. Mutt and I took a vote and we’re both offended.”

Fat hisses from the top of the bookshelf as I saunter into the living room.

My skin is still red and blotchy from the shower. I brush my wet hair with my fingers, pulling several strands out with the attempt; it’s a wonder I haven’t gone bald.

“Mutt isn’t here, Fat.”

“I have implied consent from him that I can speak on his behalf. Put some clothes on. You’ve got nothing to show off, Boss.”

Excess water from my hair collects on my shoulder and the beads run down my ribcage. My still-pruned fingers brush them away when the water reaches my hip.

“I’m air-drying, obviously. It’s a thing.”

The feline leans back as though trying to put more distance between us. “I don’t want to attack your fragile ego here, but your naked human form is all kinds of disgusting. By the way, that mole looks cancerous; you should probably get that checked out.”

I feel my nose wrinkle as I follow her probing stare to my lower stomach. I point at the dark mark and look at the feline, who nods her affirmation.

“That’s a tattoo, you knob.”

She squints, “Are you sure?”

“Entirely.” I pick up a lighter and candle from the coffee table.

As my thumb flicks to ignite the lighter, there’s the distinct sound of jingling keys. I think nothing of it; Crazy Dog Lady across the hall has been coming and going all day as she relocates to the first floor. Then I actually hear it; the sound comes from my lock. Before I can think to smash through the glass door and jump off the balcony, the apartment entrance bursts open and Mutt runs. The Chef follows, oblivious to the unintentional skin show as he turns to shut the door behind him. There are too few seconds before he will turn around and see me in my full glory.

“Cover your shame!” Fat shouts over the din of Mutt’s excitement.

The dog jumps gleefully at my feet as I do my best to cover my member’s only areas while screaming the word “Naked!” repeatedly at a high-pitched frequency. I realize I’m still holding tight to the lighter and candle; they immediately kiss the floor with twin thuds.

“When I said, ‘cover your shame,’ I meant your face. Sick burn!” Fat’s paw lifts into the air like she expects a high five. “Anyone? Chef?” She eventually lowers her paw when she concludes nobody’s going to meet her extended five.

At this time, the Chef has faced the living room and gotten quite an eyeful. He pauses, suddenly struck by the awkward realization that I’m home – in the buff – and he quickly turns to face the door and shield his eyes as though both are necessary. This is a very flattering moment for me.

“Shouldn’t you be at work?” His weight shifts with unease from side to side, illustrating that his discomfort matches my own. He hangs the small bag containing Mutt’s drugs on the handle of the hall closet.

“I took a personal day!” I’m still screaming because I’m trapped in this mortifying position. I grab one of the couch cushions and press it against my front. I feel like my crazy uncle just saw me naked. How do I normalize this situation? “My friend’s boyfriend has a guy crush on Derek Jeter.”

Fat, repulsed and taken aback, does that slow twist of the neck as her eyes bulge, giving me plenty of time to realize I picked the strangest thing to say.

“What?” The chef turns around, momentarily forgetting my lack of shame in the living room to acknowledge my stupidity and sees me hiding behind the tan cushion. “Whoa. That’s gross. I gotta go.” He blushes and races out of the apartment.

That’s gross? I frown, slightly offended.

Fat chuckles, settling herself into a napping position on her throne on top of the bookcase. “So what did we learn today?”

A Curious Understudy for My Heart’s Desire

“I want mac and cheese!”

I swear the sound of muffled laughter follows my announcement. My neck snaps to look downward to Fat, sitting calmly at my feet by the entryway. I grab my keys off the hall table and shove them in my pocket. The intense eye contact persists throughout the small action.

“What?” Fat’s eyes narrow, trying to dissect the look I give her.

“I’m serious. I want mac and cheese!”

“Boss, calm down. There’s no need to yell.” Fat licks a paw and rubs it against her face.

My eyes widen. Yell? I thought I merely made a statement declaring my strong desire for carbohydrates. I had no idea such a tremendous want came with amplified volume. My voice adjusts to an indoor level. Ever since I started thinking of Bestie’s mac and cheese last week, the memory of its creamy deliciousness haunts me. It’s complete addict behaviour.

“You know what this is, don’t you?” Fat finishes washing her face and gives me a knowing gaze. “It’s addict behaviour.”

“I just said that.”

Fat shakes her head, “No, you didn’t.”

My brain abandons its lust of pasta to pursue recent memory. Maybe I just thought the thing about addict behaviour. Either way, it’s concerning.

“I think I’m going crazy.”

“Stating the obvious, lady. That’s why you made me your therapist.”

I mutter, “You’re a self-appointed therapist. If you were court-appointed I might pay more attention.”

“With your stupid behaviour I imagine that is only a matter of time. You need to distract yourself from this fleeting obsession with cheesy, fatty pasta. Get out of the house.”

My phone lights up to show me the time. “I’m trying. I actually need to get to the bank before it closes.” It’s going to be a close one. I might even have to run.

I open the front door as I wrestle to get my sandals on. While bent over, my untamed hair cascades, putting a divide between Fat and I.

“Well that’s interesting.” The sentence sounds broken the way Fat says it. The odd breaks between her words makes me curious. I part my wild hair like an explorer in an overgrown jungle so I can observe the feline. She looks beyond me and at the doorway, head cocked to the side as though perplexed. I turn and see it too.

A lone box of Kraft Dinner occupies the space within the door frame. Fat and I exchange confused looks and both race to look up and down the hallway for a hint as to who left it for us to find.

Fat eyes Jesse’s door with accusation. I follow her stare and recall the laughter after my initial loud announcement.

“You think?” I watch Jesse’s door for a sign of life. Nothing happens.

“If I may quote myself,” Fat looks from the neighbour’s door to the box of KD, “that’s interesting.” IMG_2672[1]

Conversations That Ease Abandonment

“I thought you said you were going to putter around the house today? What’s this nonsense you’ve got going on?”

Fat sits right in front of the plastic cup I’ve placed on its side on the carpet. She looks to where I’ve repositioned the coffee table — out of the way, beside the cloudy window of the patio door so I have more room.

I briefly take my eye off the brilliant pink of the Volvik ball in front of my feet. Instead of answering, I let my arms swing back and there’s the nice sound of the golf club connecting to the ball. Our heads move in unison as Fat and I both watch the pink sphere roll across the carpet. If my aim were better, I wouldn’t have missed her by a foot. However, this ball lands closer to the cup than my first one; the latter found a new home under the couch.

“So again I ask, what on earth are you doing?”

“Putting.” I give the feline an exasperated look with my answer, “Obviously.”

“And the outfit?”

“Pretty, yes?” The putter becomes a fancy cane that I lean on and strike a pose. I’m wearing my white golf skirt, teal shirt, matching shoes and glove that ties the ensemble together in a neat little bow. I figure if I’m going to play terribly and get drunk off beer at the golf course, I might as well look good doing it. I use the putter to manoeuver another ball from the remaining three into position.

“Sure, Boss.” Fat doesn’t move. She’s seen my skills and she’s clearly not worried about me hitting my target. Fat is smart like that sometimes.

Concentration and intention pour from my brain into my hands. My head tilts to Fat, then to the ball, then to Fat, then back to the ball. The golf club lifts gently off the ground, the hips swivel slightly, eye on the ball and…

“The dress-up thing doesn’t surprise me.”

I sigh and lower the putter to the ground. The sun comes out and light drifts into our dismal living room. I offer her my silence in exchange for an explanation.

The good doctor smiles as though she’s won something, and maybe she has. “You like to dress for occasions, don’t you? There’s this golfer outfit you’ve got here, when you fixed the closet door handles you gussied yourself up in coveralls, the rare times you bake there’s always an apron and the matching oven mitts, you even have a bandana for changing oil in a car. It kind of gives a clue as to why you’re old and alone.” Fat pauses, giving me time to make some sort of realization.

I twirl the putter around since I have nothing I should contribute to the conversation. I want to make a comment about being self-sufficient, but I’ve fallen into her traps before. It keeps my rage in check if I don’t give her a reason to make me feel like an idiot.

“There’s no kind of costume or Personal Protective Equipment for being in a relationship with you. It’s a wonder anyone has ever signed up to be your boyfriend.”

“PPE? Like goggles and safety vests?” I hesitate to ask, because I worry Fat will take the conversation to a XXX kind of place. Those S&M folk play dress-up too.

“More like a metaphoric jock strap. It’s almost like you truly don’t want to find somebody. Ever.”

I revoke my full attention and line up once again with the golf ball. “You think I’m a lot more harsh than I actually am.” I hit the ball without forethought, and it ricochets off the wall with much too much force. “Why don’t you think I’m fine without a man, Fat? This isn’t a hundred years ago. I’m not even close to old maid status.”

“But you would be such a beautiful bride. And, if you don’t mind my saying so, a great mother too.”

I frown and my mouth puckers like I’m tasting pink grapefruit. “You’ve supported my single life in the past. Whose agenda are you pushing?”

The feline scratches her temple and she bears a confession face. “I was maybe corresponding via text with your parents under the guise of your identity.” Her sheepish face switches to scorn, “When were you going to announce that you’re leaving me for a week?”

“My parents, of course. They can see my older brother about more grandkids, he’d love to add to his brood.” He’s planning a wedding next year too; that should take the heat off of me for a couple more years at least. “And stop playing on my phone.” I’m going to need to change my passcode.

In all honesty, I had no intention of telling Fat I was leaving, she would figure it out once Chelsea showed up to fill her food dish. I think euphorically of my plane ticket and lazy Okanagan plans. A week of freedom starting tomorrow. G’bye, Fat.

The feline squints at me. “What is that ridiculous smile for?”

The Dismissal of Bachelor Number Two

“She wants to tell you that she’s in love with you!” Fat shouts as I press the screen to answer the call and lift the phone to my ear.

I shout back at Fat, who is still trapped on top of the bookshelf, “I’m most definitely not in love.”

“Um… hi.” I hear bachelor number two’s voice and quickly realize what just happened.

“Hey,” I drag out the word as I make a mad dash to the kitchen and retrieve a spray bottle of water from under the sink. “About time you called me back.” I charge at Fat like I’m leading a cavalry. She tries to hide her obesity behind a photo that she hasn’t knocked over. A few misfires shoot aqua at a picture of my twenty-two year old self, I’ve become a casualty from my own weapon. Tragic.

“That wasn’t the most polite way to answer a phone call. What’s going on?” When he says “polite” I dry heave. His perceived gentlemanly behaviour has disintegrated to the notion that he needs to see a proctologist to remove the stick up his ass.

Fat responds before I do, “We’re planning a wedding in the country for you two crazy kids. Tell me you have a straw hat and beige chinos.” She leans forward, challenging me with her look, and continues in a loud whisper, “You’ll be in lace and carrying a parasol. It will be so romantic.”

“If you think I’m getting married, fuck you, bitch.”

“I didn’t say–” the bachelor stammers on the other side of the phone call. I get right close to Fat’s face and spray her again. My unfriendly fire pushes her backward until she’s pressed up against the wall. Fat’s paws wave in the air and I grant her a brief reprieve to offer a retraction.

Fat quickly licks her paw and corrects her askew whiskers. A quick smile tells me Fat isn’t finished. “She’s changed her mind; she wants to have your babies after all.” Fat’s wet fur clings to her body as she jiggles with laughter.

“No babies.” I turn the spray bottle sideways and shoot her gangster-style. Realization hits; I drop the bottle on the floor and finally think to pull the iPhone away from my face and cover the microphone. “What is wrong with you?” The question finds its way through the barricade of clenched teeth.

Of course, now that he can’t hear us, Fat remains silent and in answer to my question, she merely shrugs.

“You don’t know? Of course. Too busy trying to figure out my psychoses that you don’t even recognize your own.” I groan and put the phone back to my ear. “Hi.”

“This seems like a bad time. I can call back.”

“No.” The words rush out of my mouth. “Don’t call back. I need to tell you that I don’t want to see you anymore.”

“Yes, I kind of got that.” He’s using that flustered tone. My memory flashes to the last time we hung out and he used that same tone when he tried to censor my “offensive language”. Shellack just sounds foul; it’s used in art projects, you uppity prick.

I pull the phone away from my face while I sign off. “Good, so we’re done here. Over and out.” I press end immediately and crane my neck to see the pleased-as-piss expression on my domestic feline’s face. “Care to explain what that little freak show was about?”

“I was helping you.”

I cock my head to the side, “How do you figure?”

“Well, now he doesn’t think you’re a bitch. He just thinks you’re crazy – which isn’t entirely wrong.” She snickers.

“In that case, let me return the favour. I’m going to help you figure out a way to get off the bookshelf using your own devices. You’re welcome.” I huck my phone at the couch and stomp out of the room. I’ll kill her. One day, so help me, it will happen.

Clinginess Be Damned

“Fuck you, cling wrap.” It folds and adheres to itself again. Glad? Worst name for a brand ever. I’m feeling much the opposite, thank you. I grit my teeth as I try to pry the thin plastic apart; this is the jeckle and hyde of inventions. I just want to wrap my wrap. Fat struts into the kitchen while I struggle and shout, “Why can’t I get this to work?”

“A worthy title for your autobiography.” Fat saunters over to her bowl, and doesn’t stop walking or hide her disappointment when she sees that it’s empty. She jumps onto my desk chair and crouches down.

I ball up what was supposed to be a cooperative square of cling wrap and toss it in the recycling bin under the sink. “Beg pardon?”

Fat ignores the question. She stretches her arms out and lifts her ass. After a few seconds, she abandons the yoga pose and splays her large body across the chair.

“What’s the attitude for?” I rip a new piece of cling wrap with the precision of a surgeon.

She shoots me a look of contempt. “You locked me out of the room last night.”

“It was warranted.” Finally, some teamwork from the filmy plastic. I suffocate my wrap and put it into the fridge before the cling wrap decides to fail me for a fourth time.

“Did you call the boyfriend bachelor?”

I pull the tab on a can of lime Perrier and set it back on the counter. “I tried to.”

Fat’s ears perk up and the potential for gossip dissolves her disinterested expression. “You either called him or you didn’t.” Fat pats the chair with her grey paw, indicating I should sit with her.

“I called him,” I sit on the desk and spin the chair around so she faces me, “he just didn’t answer.”

Fat’s eyes widen, “You broke up with him on voicemail?” She belts out with hearty laughter.

I smack the backrest of the chair, sending it spinning in circles; the momentum mutes Fat’s obnoxious cackling and she jumps down after a revolution.

“I did not.” I get up, grab my drink and return to my post at the desk. “Maybe I should have.” I pull my phone out of my pocket and get to the screen that has his number on it. I hit send.

Fat and I both listen to the phone ring and then go right to voicemail. Everybody knows what that means.

I listen to the recorded message. Primed like a marathon runner anticipating the sound of the starting pistol, I wait for the beep. “Are you fucking kid–” Fat jumps up on the desk and knocks over my Perrier. “Shit.” I end the call mid-sentence and run to grab the dish towel hanging from the stove. “Christ, Fat.” The towel drinks more of the soda than I did.

“You don’t want to do it on his voicemail,” I’m upset, but surprised at her newfound compassion. She finishes her thought, “at least if you do it over the phone you’ll be able to hear him cry.” There’s the bitch cat I know and love.

“You bring up a helluva point, Fat. Though, if he’s ignoring my call, maybe he doesn’t want to see me anymore either.”

She mulls it over. “That’s likely. You have the capacity to be quite difficult.”

I whip her with the wet towel. She hisses and swipes at me when I try it again.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” She looks at the backwards clock. “Or are you early?” Her head leans to the side, “Maybe late?” I glance at the clock too, see the time and quickly pull my shirt off when I cut through the kitchen. She calls after me, “I fucking hate this clock.”

I return a moment later in a different top and shoes in hand. “I’m a little late.”

“Bachelor number one again?”

“Yes ma’am.” I check myself out in the hall mirror.

“Since we’re putting the kibosh on boyfriend bachelor, does this mean the one you’re going out with now is the one you’re choosing?”

I grab my keys, “Fat, just because there’s an elimination does not necessarily mean there’s been a selection. Gotta say though, bachelor number one is one decent fella.” I quickly tousle her head, “Besides, there are many other potentials out there. Why pick if I don’t have to?”