Compliments to the Chef

“Oh, honey, you cooked.”

Fat leaps up on the messy desk beside the laptop, ink-smudged journal and sea of post-it notes. The corners of her mouth play at a smirk “You’re going to make your tapeworm so happy.” Her grey head shakes back and forth, dismissing the very idea, “Cooked. That’s rich. You think a frying pan is a weapon thanks to Saturday morning cartoons. Just another child left behind…”

As she tut-tuts my upbringing her stare lands on my face, waiting for me to acknowledge her presence. Impatience shows in her tail as it flicks back and forth, trying to pry my gaze from the screen. Giving up more quickly than is custom for an attention-seeking harlot, Fat redirects her focus back to the plate of half-eaten food.

My dinner sits on the opposite side of the computer, quickly losing heat as I frantically type and attempt to masticate at the same time. Multitasking isn’t a skill in my wheelhouse; I suppose there’s a reason writing and eating don’t generally go hand-in-hand. I feel my brow furrow in concentration. I need to force myself to finish reworking the sentence instead of give in to Fat’s desire for spotlight. Her uncharacteristically diverted attention stares with intense interest at the salmon.

“Actually, that kind of smells good – dare I say edible. Delivery? Care package? Where’s it from?”

I swallow, re-read the dozen-or-so words I’ve written and type a period before pushing the chair away from the desk.

“I made it.” Hands fold in my lap, preemptively impatient and aware of her forthcoming reaction.

Fat cracks a wide smile before throwing her head back in a surplus of laughter. “Good one, Boss. That standup of yours is really coming along.”

For once, not falling prey to her game, I wait. We stare at each other. I can’t believe my own house cat doesn’t take me seriously. I’m a grownup. Sometimes.

“You mean you actually… in the…” Her neck cranes in the direction of the kitchen, entirely baffled at the possibility.

I nod.

She sees the overflowing sink with dirty dishes, which support my claim. “Well, I’ll be damned. Did you alert the press?”

A deep exhale finds its way out of my chest. “No, Fat. The media won’t be stopping by.” Fingers grab the edge of the desk and I roll myself back into writing position. I don’t know why I keep indulging in her jackassery. My head shakes, dismissively. Just because I don’t usually cook doesn’t mean I can’t.

The keyboard rests under my ready fingers. I gently drum my digits across home row, and let my imagination take over. Mouthing the words of my last paragraph to myself, I settle back into where I left off. Reality blurs on the periphery and new words leave my fingertips, adding to the collection on the screen. I might be onto something here.

The noisy clacking of typing falls to background noise when the good doctor pipes up again.

“I like that you’re still able to surprise me, Boss.”

Her voice pulls reality back into focus. In my mental absence, Fat relocated to the other side of the computer, and is whiskers-deep in my dinner.

“Christ, Fat!” I reach to swat her, but the feline is too quick, and bounds to the floor before I can connect my fury with her fur.

She licks her chops from a safe distance. “Well pardon me for being proud of you.”

This is as Tall as I Get, I can’t Grow Up Anymore

“Did I just watch you have a legitimate four-minute conversation wherein you played both the part of yourself as well as that of the comically large mug in your hands?”

I follow the sound of Fat’s voice and see the cat smirking beside the box of cereal on top of the fridge.

My mouth recreates the letter ‘O’ as my body turns to statue. Why do I never think to sweep the area for a mocking cat before I allow the stupid part of my personality to man the helm? This is officially the moment I vow to never again consider it a good idea to put the dishes away; henceforth I shall let them stay in the dish rack for an indefinite number of tomorrows. I grip the handle of the mug tightly. As stupid is already in charge of my actions, stupid continues to make me look like an idiot. Maybe it’s because I saw Tommy Boy a few too many times growing up that acting like a buffoon is ingrained in my head as acceptable and sane behaviour. The mug raises to my mouth and I speak into it as though it’s a megaphone. Just to punctuate the echo, I force my voice into a deeper octave. “You can’t prove anything, unevolved feline.”

“So you are not, in fact, willing to come clean about using the phrase, ‘le hoot. I ‘ave to get zis baret ‘ome to my leetle owling. He love eet.’?” Fat mimics my poor, phony accent rather well. The look she gives me takes the place of two words: Gotcha, Sucka.

Instantly, I lower the giant mug and point at the cartoon birds in a tree. Fat doesn’t seem to get it. “No, see the picture. They’re owls that live in France. Note the Eiffel Tower and cafe in the background. And see this one, he’s looking quite sharp; his neck scarf actually matches his baret–”

“I don’t think you ever left pre-kindergarten. Does the game of pretend ever end with you?” The question isn’t rude – the interruption is – the question, however,  stems from a genuinely curious place.

I return the mug back to the dish rack, needing to adjust it on top of the other dishes so it doesn’t succumb to gravity and kill the French owls. After I’m satisfied the mug will remain in place, I face Fat with my hands on my hips. “Oh please, Fat. You can’t possibly be calling me immature.”

Her head tilts to the side in an I’m-not-sure-you-want-to-play-this-game kind of way.

“Out with it, doc. You seem to have the opinion that I lack the capacity to behave like an adult.”

Fat licks the sides of her mouth as if weighing the merits of saying something or keeping it to herself. “Very well,” she jumps down from the fridge onto the kitchen counter and stares at me with scrutiny. “Are you aware that every morning when you cover up your hideous face with one that looks human, the compact powder brush inevitably ends up becoming a momentary moustache in your hands?” At first I thought it was some kind of freaky below-the-surface Hitler fascination, but the more I observe, it would seem as more of a Charlie Chaplin homage.”

This revelation rings no bells; she’s clearly fucking with me. It seems like it should be a compliment of sorts as Charlie Chaplin was one delicious silent man, but is she accusing me of wanting to be a delicious silent man? I’m rather fond of the fact that my ovaries are on the inside. Crap, I’m letting her get into my head and make me overthink everything. “Fat, I know it’s killing you to have a normal person as your owner, but you need to stop trying to make me think I act like a lunatic just so you can practice your self-appointed shrink business on me. Get a hobby.”

Fat wets a paw with her saliva and rubs it behind one of her ears. “If that is how you choose to see it…” She lets the sentence drift into space.

I lean my back against the counter and the action somehow jostles the mug free of the dish rack and the French owls fly the coop.  The loud sound of the mug hitting the counter makes the small hairs on my arms stand at attention. “God damn birds with your freaky, flappy wings!” I yell as I pick up the now-chipped mug. In spite of this new imperfection, the mug is unharmed and still functional. As I don’t want to take another gamble with gravity and putting the cup in the cupboard is a whole ordeal, I put the mug in the sink.

“Maybe the writer aspiration makes sense after all.” Fat muses as she watches my physical exasperation with the coffee cup. “Fiction, obviously. You, boss, are not meant for the real world – you signed off on practicality long ago.”

As I’m not certain how to take this, I just assume she means it as a compliment.