A Woman Needs Girlfriends

“For a stick and bones frame, you sure jiggle a lot, Boss. Hold still. Stop fidgeting.”

I feel a brush sweep gently across my eyelid. If I was better at being girly I wouldn’t need to enlist the help of the hefty feline. Speaking of whom, my legs are going numb from her weight. Our tiny apartment doesn’t have room for a vanity, so I’m perched on the ledge of the bathtub with Fat balancing precariously on my lap so she can apply layers of makeup to my face. Unfortunately for me, I’m nervous about tonight and that feeling made me jump at the chance for any help. Fat, of course, came to the rescue.

The bathroom is ridiculously bright today. I’m pretty certain she switched out the regular lightbulbs for ones with greater watts. God forbid the feline misses a chance to check out my wrinkles under harsh lighting. Beside the tub, a multitude of products is displayed on the closed toilet lid; I have no idea what most of it is. Where is a good drag queen tutorial when you need one?

“Are you going to miss the spinster life? You were just starting to get good at it. That Chinese restaurant will miss delivering food to this particular shut-in. Their business is going to suffer, you know that right?” She leans over to her make-shift counter to get some more colour on the end of the brush. “Boss, close your eyes. I’m working here.”

The brush goes over the crease of my eyelid. Seems unnecessary; I was more or less hoping for some help with making my skin look better. The situation snowballed pretty fast – Fat’s even wearing one of those makeup tool belts to hold her brushes like the gorgeous people who work at MAC. “What kind of eyeshadow is this? It smells terrible.”

“It’s cigarette ash. I was going for that smoky eye look all the harlots are after. Do I have to tell you to close your eyes again? Honestly, I swear you like being difficult.” Fat cups my face in both paws to assess her work. In the moment I’m entirely dumbfounded, Fat licks the pad of her paw and wipes something away from the corner of my eye with her saliva.

“Could you please stop doing disgusting things to my face?”

Fat doesn’t respond to my, what I consider entirely reasonable, plea. “So tell me about the guy. Where did you meet him?” She grabs one of the bigger brushes out of her waist belt and grabs a small container of blush. God I hope it’s blush. She applies whatever it is to my cheeks.

“He’s a friend of a friend. Funny. Tall.” Remember, self, minimal details are your friend here. You don’t want the cat to get the idea you want to talk. Before you know it you’ll be hugging a pillow while lying on the couch and discussing your mommy issues.

“Gangly doofus. Sounds like a winner.” She goes for my face with something that looks like a hot pink Sharpie.

“Whoa, whoa. What the hell is that?” In an effort to dodge out of her way, I come dangerously close to falling ass backward into the bathtub. I regain balance and hold tight to the off-white edge of the tub.

Her green eyes travel to regard the pen then back to meet my gaze, “Lip liner.”

“Nope. No lip liner. My people don’t do most of this stuff that you’ve attacked me with. I’m taking a stand. This much makeup is unnecessary; I’m neither a pageant queen nor auditioning for a circus. I’m going to dinner and a show tonight. We’re done here.”  I pick her up and drop her on the floor and get on my feet before she can jump back up.

“If you just give me three more minutes…”

When I look in the mirror, I’m entirely horrified. “Fat, I look like the asylum gave me a day pass.”

Only panda bears and Avril Lavigne should have eyes that look like this. The blush is so orange against my pale skin it makes me feel like my face is attempting to outdo a sunset. No is the only word that comes to mind. No. No. No. No. No. No.

“I was trying to give you a look that says, ‘No need to buy the cow’. You don’t think it’s a success?”

I grab the makeup remover wipes. Multiple wipes. A handful. Less than three will not erase the catastrophe that used to be my money maker. I bury my face in the damp cloths and rub vigorously. Paint remover may be necessary. Oh Christ, the audacity.

“Who says concubines get to have all the fun? Excuse me for giving you the Pretty Woman treatment so you can go out and bag us a rich guy.”

When my face emerges from the collection of towelettes, the formerly white cloth is now an absurd rainbow. “I’d rather have a nice guy.”

“Money talks, Boss, and it says, ‘Buy your cat some decent food so she can stop eating the drivel you consider quality.’” Fat grabs a tube of mascara and jumps beside the bathroom sink so she can see herself in the mirror. Her mouth forms an ‘O’ shape as she applies the makeup to her whiskers to make them longer and more voluminous.

I reach for my phone when it beeps. “My cat deserves to starve for what she did to my face.” I read the text, “We can continue this later. He’s parked out front, I’ve got to go.”

“You’re going out like that?” The feline meets my eye in the mirror’s reflection. “No makeup?”

“Au natural.” I nod. “At least I feel like myself.”

“I’m sure it’ll go great and he’ll want to spend all the time in the world with a looker like you. So…see you in about ten minutes?”

 

God Damn Symbiosis

“Holy mother of God, would you look at who’s here.” Surprise on the cat’s face is paramount as she does the best she can to hide the ziplock bag of cookie crumbs that inexplicably reappeared from the garbage can. Sounds of the once-crisp plastic drown out the quiet kitchen as Fat sits, then lies down on a sandwich bag that has my name neatly written by my mother’s hand. I toss my keys on the counter as I watch her depiction of nonchalance.

“Yes. Twice in one week if you can believe it. Whatcha got there, Fat?” My head nods in the direction of the clawed plastic poking out under her fur. Crumbs from former christmas cookies litter the floor.

“Just a little organizational thing. Don’t even worry about it. We’ve all got to do our part, right?” Fat’s claws pierce the plastic again, she knows I’m coming for it.

It was a gentle bend, but for some reason an old lady groan comes out of my mouth and I grip the plastic sticking out from under her right side.

“Easy, Granny.” Fat’s eyes narrow in a you-really-don’t-want-to-do-that kind of a way. I see the look, but I rip the plastic out from under her anyway. In my head it seemed like it would be one of those neat moves like when a tablecloth gets pulled out from beneath a set table and the dishes remain undisturbed. It was not like that at all. Fat, still connected to the plastic by the talons of her left paw, does a sideways roll… that is until instead of pulling to the side like I started to, I change course and pull upward. Fat’s paw lifts up like she’s praising the heavens, but the devil is all over her face. Some might refer to that look as vengeance.

“Let go!” We shriek to each other at the same time, but now, both in a state of disrepair we do things we shouldn’t. She starts striking her free paw out at me and I start shaking the plastic bag to free her. Turns out the shaking pisses Fat off more so she lashes out like a wild lioness which freaks me out so I jostle the strung feline with more urgency. I shook her like a busted Etch-a-Sketch. It was a viscous cycle until the plastic gave way and Fat landed on her side on the kitchen floor.

We glare at each other for minutes, maybe sixty hours. It’s hard to tell when the only clock in the kitchen runs backward. The tension slowly dissipates until we’re both certain that no one will die in this apartment today and we both relax. Fat watches as I toss the shredded ziplock into the trash again.

Finally, she speaks.

“You’ve got problems bigger than you know, lady. What was that all about?” Her paw goes up to halt the answer from coming out of my mouth. “No need; that was rhetorical. You just got all kinds of crazy roaming that cavern between your ears. You need help. This can’t be breaking news, I tell you all the time: you’re a crazy bitch with problems. Own it.”

“Please. The only problem I have is not knowing where I put my phone.”

Her gaze lands directly on the front of my shirt. “You might want to consult that rectangle you’ve got hanging out in your bra. I don’t think you understand how stuffing works.”

My hand reaches in and pulls out my iPhone. “Well I’ll be damned. You helped. Thanks, Fat.”

“Face it, boss. You need me. God damn symbiosis.” She watches as I zip up my coat and grab my keys. “You’re going to feed me before you go, right?”