Sadism and Hygiene

“Sadist! You’re a sadist!”

Fat kangaroo-kicks me with her back legs as she tries to yank her left paw from my grip. We wrestle on the living room floor shouting expletives at each other. I feel at least a couple fresh scratches across my clavicle – they’ll match the ones that were delivered to my bicep when I was trimming the nails on her other paw. I get close to clipping another one of her talons when the grey feline sources Hulk-like strength to rip her paw from my grasp and scrambles out of my grip for the fourth time this morning. Her low-hanging belly sways side-to-side as she runs. I would rather spend eighteen hours doing intensive Crossfit in a down-filled parka than try to trim Fat’s claws. Current conditions are frustrating; we’ve seen moments of hatred throughout the day.

In a flash, the good doctor is down the hall shooting me a look of slight panic before turning into the bedroom. I trail behind and I lunge at her as I approach the bed where she’s stopped to catch her breath.

Fat scampers out of the way and across the mattress fast enough that I only graze her tail with my outstretched fingers.

“Christ, Fat. Get back here.”

“Willingly submit to torture? You must be insane if you think I’d get on board with that.” She stays low to the ground and slips past my ankles and into the hallway.

The routine is all-too familiar, a scene we’ve already played out a few times today. Fat’s ears fold backward in displeasure, and she darts through the kitchen. If feline parkour were a thing, what Fat does next would foot the bill. She runs, bounds from the leather chair to the desk and instantly leaps from the desk edge to the height of the bookshelf. She grabs hold of the high edge and kicks off the side of the shelf to boost her up to the very top. If I wasn’t so exhausted and annoyed I would have filled the apartment with applause.

Instead my reaction is: “Get back down here so I can kill you, Fat.”

“Yeah, okay, Boss. I’m all over that idea.” At least from her lazy sarcasm I can feel okay knowing that I’m not the only exhausted one here. I wheel the chair over to the shelf, bracing the glossy wood as I step onto the seat with the finesse of a senior citizen with a walker. Fat gets another wind as I reach for her and she does a Mission Impossible-style jump onto the couch, landing with momentum that propels her forward.

I groan as I step back down and violently shove the office chair aside. If Fat didn’t scratch me so much, I would have less desire to cut her nails.

As she sprints from the living room down the hall to the bedroom, Fat screams over her shoulder, “Your parents didn’t raise you right!”

Giving chase, I bellow, “I’ve been telling you that for years!”

“Clearly they saved the good parenting for the kids that showed promise. We can stop this chaotic nonsense and have a session about it.” Her words come out between huff-and-puff breaths.

“If I may quote you, Fat,” I gasp for air; my lung supply seems to be failing with all this cardio, “Willingly submit to torture? You must be insane.”

Vanity of the Bearded Lady

“You’re something of a handsome woman, Boss.”

My eyes drift to see the feline stretched lengthwise in front of the television as if willing the attention of the room to be drawn to her instead of the screen behind. She will not be upstaged.

“Beg pardon?” My thumb tucks between pages of the book I’m reading.

“There’s something distinguished about you. It could be the regal way you hold yourself or it could be that moustache. I’m not sure which. Either way, girl, you workin’ it.”

Insecurity overtakes my free will and I touch the area between my nose and upper lip. It doesn’t feel like there’s a grizzly moustache growing, but you never want to be the bearded lady who is unaware that she is the bearded lady. I toss the book on the table next to my water and grab my iPhone. The camera turns on so I can see myself in the screen. I approach from several angles, holding my face with my free hand so I can’t run away from myself to go cry in a corner.

She strokes her whiskers in a cavalier manner. “It’s mostly sprouting from the sides; with how long it’s getting, you’ve got kind of a fu-woman-chu. It’s pretty neat. And cultural.”

“You, talking with all those  awful words, are not making the situation any better.” The natural light helps illuminate the blonde hairs sprouting atop my lip. Oh god. It’s real. All that father/son time I spent working on cars with my pops and now I’m a man. I’m so sad for myself right now.

“My sincerest of apologies. I thought you knew. You stare at yourself in the mirror often enough.” Fat jumps down and wanders into the kitchen to start rooting through the junk drawer.

“Disaster. Such disaster.” I close the camera on my phone and go into my list of contacts until I find Stripped Wax Bar. It only rings once. I poorly conceal the frenzy in my voice. “Hi. I have a moustache. When is Heather free?”

“I could take care of that for you. We have duct tape, right?” Fat pilfers through the random hodgepodge of spools of thread, empty keychains, matchbooks, and hordes of extra ikea parts. She’s not a quiet rustler so I have to amplify my voice.

“Nothing sooner?”

A triumphant paw lifts high into the air holding a roll of the industrial tape. “Eureka! Boss, we’re in business.”

Oh. My. God. No.

“It’s okay; Thursday is fine.” I watch as Fat starts picking at the end of the roll of tape, “I’ll just hide behind a hand fan like a debutante or geisha until then. Thanks, bye.”

I groan and my head hits the back cushion of the couch. It’s a good forty seconds of silence before Fat leaps up beside me and forces her head under my hand for a pet. I sit up, reach for the glass on the table and sit there sipping while I scratch the feline’s head.

Fat’s eyes close with contentment. “I shouldn’t have said anything. It’s probably hard enough to deal with being pregnant without me making you feel self-conscious about your hairy face.” In the midst of relaxation, her head lolls to the side.

I choke on my water. “What?”

“Aren’t you…” Her inquisitive green eyes open and travel to my stomach region. “My mistake. Big lunch, right? You’re probably just bloated.”

No Secrets from Housecats

“Where were you? Do you have any idea what time it is?”

I’m greeted by the feline’s backside. Fat doesn’t show any sign that she’s noticed me aside from the questions that sound remarkably distant. She’s preoccupied; something on the computer desk holds her attention far more than my entrance ever could.

I drop my yoga bag on the floor and throw a look at the digital clock on the PVR. The crisp white numbers show that it’s not quite seven-thirty. I feel my lip curl in uncertainty as I free my mane from a frizzed-out, sweaty bun.

“Prayer meeting.” I wait for Fat’s head to snap and look at me with alarm and intrigue, but it doesn’t happen. She’s busy reading something on the laptop.

“Well if I know anything about you, Boss, it’s that you love the Jesus.” I see her brow furrow as she leans closer to the screen. Her mouth moves as she silently reads a couple more sentences on the virtual document in front of her. Eventually she turns to give me her consideration. “Sorry, did you say something else?”

“Thanks for listening,” I mutter. “What are you reading anyways?” My head lazily tilts toward the computer.

The feline’s mouth opens with a smile so wide I can see her fangs. Her paw goes to the wireless mouse and scrolls up until I see the familiar banner of my blog. Oh god.

My chest constricts as I do my best impression of somebody who is able to maintain their composure. “I… uh… how did you stumble upon that?” My fingertips drum on the desktop for lack of anything better to do. I’m fighting the urge to drop-kick the good doctor off the balcony in a fit of panic. I’m really not sure if there is any other remedy for the situation.

“It’s on the internet, you idiot. How was I not supposed to find it?” Fat clicks on a post from April 2014. “Really, it’s quite amazing that you don’t even realize how psychologically destructive you are to yourself.”

Taken aback, I abandon my discomfort of the situation when curiosity takes over. I walk closer and crouch beside Fat so we can both read the post. “What do you mean?”

“Suppose the words I say… see, here,” a grey paw bats the screen to a paragraph where I’ve written about her verbally tearing me a new one, “suppose these cynical, bitchy, loathsome things aren’t actually me speaking to you – it’s how you feel about yourself manifesting in a bizarre situation where you talk to your cat and you think the cat talks back.” Fat snickers at something my past self wrote, “I wish I said that.”

My mouth falls open. Agape, I mull over conversations with Fat that I can remember the hateful and bitchy things she has definitely said in the past. At least, I’m pretty certain she actually said them.

“That’s a nice hunchback you’re growing. Trying to get Quasimodo’s job when he retires from the bell tower?”

“Your brain is so full of stupid the excess is coming out your mouth.”

“I thought ugly people were supposed to have great personalities.”

I slowly turn toward Fat and our eyes meet. I falter, questioning what I always assumed was true. “Fat, I–”

“BAHAHAHAHA!”  She buries a delighted kitten face in the crook of her elbow, “I’m just yanking you, Boss. You’re not clever enough to come up with a fraction of this stuff on your own.”

Being Neighbourly

“It’s okay, just keep plugging along like I’m not even here.”

I shoot a quick glance away from the mirror, eyes wide and mouth open as the mascara brush remains suspended mid-air. Fat sits on top of the toilet tank; the candles that usually occupy the small space have been shoved haphazardly aside by the feline to accommodate her rump.

“Fat, I–”

“I’ll have none of your excuses, jackass. It’s fine. I see how it is. We’ve got ourselves a black-and-white roommate situation. Should I start labelling which food in the fridge is mine?” The feline’s sarcasm is unmistakable. “Don’t take advantage of the elastic band on the doorknob privilege.”

My mirror twin shows a minor crease in her forehead. People do that in real life? I feign nonchalance as I go back to applying my makeup. “That’s a non-issue, Fat. A pervert like you generally finds herself in the room whenever I have company over.”

“I live here too!” Fat’s ears flatten and her green eyes narrow into slits.

I twist the mascara tube shut and put it away, looking in the mirror at the hideous bags under my eyes as I do so. I’d rather scrutinize the age on my face than chance a look to the grey feline. She radiates scariness right now.

Before I have a chance to manoeuvre my way out of her watchful eye, there’s a quick succession of three short knocks at the door. A beat of silence, then one more quick knock. The familiar sound has become a secret handshake of sorts and the right side of my mouth uncontrollably lifts into a smirk. Thankfully, the chef has Mutt for the night and the knocking is met with silence and not the excessive yips of a grumpy rotund dog.

“Wait,” Fat’s face changes back to her normal expression, “What gives? Who’s at the door?” The feline jumps down and near-gallops to the apartment entrance. She assumes a regal stance as she sits, waiting for the door to open of its own volition. She watches, transfixed, as the visitor turns the knob from left to right. “State your name and business, trespasser.” The demand booms from the cat’s lungs as the person continues to try the doorknob.

“For Christ’s sake, Fat.” I nudge her aside to gently flick the lock and the door is pushed open by the person on the other side.

A paw lifts, claws extended. “You’re far too accommodating to this intruder.”

Jesse swings the door open with a fake scowl. He points at my face with the enthusiasm of a shipwreck survivor seeing land. “You. I hate you so much right now.”

I swat his accusatory fingers until they recoil.

The feline’s claws retreat. “Take a number pal; I was mad at her first. She’s just in a place to piss everyone off it would seem.”

Jesse’s head swings down to acknowledge the cat near his feet. “Miss Fat, how do you do?” He tips an imaginary hat in her direction. “I just need a moment of time with your mistress; she’s done me wrong in a very cruel way.”

“Preach on, sister.” Fat glares in my direction then back to Jesse. “We should start a club.” She purrs, happy to have a cohort in her fight to bring me down.

Jesse bends to pick her up, petting Fat like he’s a Bond villain. The beard he’s grown out over the summer looks like it’s ready for a trim. It’s on the fringe of unruly.

“And how have I wronged you?” I look up as I bend over to put on my boots. “Between you and the monster you’re holding, I should open up a compliant department.”

“Pfft.” Jesse flips his hair as if he thinks it’s long enough to get into his eyes. The pomade keeps his brunette locks suspended in place. “You told Hobo Tenant down the hall that I would help him set up his pvr. I just spent the last twenty minutes in his apartment. He kept trying to feed me grapes.”

Fat and I speak at the same time and apparently share the same thought.

“Is that a–”

“That’s a total euphemism for balls.” Fat looks directly at Jesse’s face as if trying to discern truth from his expression.

I didn’t get to finish my question, because Jesse interrupts to edit his statement.

“Green grapes. Literal grapes.” He pats the top of Fat’s head, entirely unaware that she thought the same thing I did, and her eyes close happily. “Why you always gotta take it to that place? Damn, woman.” He smiles.

I shrug into my bomber jacket. “He asked me to help him and I said I thought you were the better man for the job.” Effort to hide my cruel laughter is wasted and I can’t help but chuckle at his misfortune. “I didn’t want to be in his apartment by myself. I won’t apologize for throwing you under the bus. I’d do it again too.”

Fat’s eyes open to look at Jesse again. “Boss is like that. She’s a hideous bitch who’s only capable of looking out for herself.”

Jesse lets out an easy laugh. “I’d have done the same to you if he asked me first.” He bends to let Fat down and steps closer to me with a pity-me face. “That guy smells so bad.”

I nod, thinking of Hobo Tenant’s signature scent of unwashed clothes with a lingering hint of dumpster debris. I mime throwing up. Fat sits on the floor between Jesse and me staring up at us with a calculating look.

“Something’s up.” Her head tilts from me to him and back again.

Jesse’s hands grab the bottom of my jacket and he fastens the zipper on my behalf like I’m a child. “It’s cold out there today.” He grabs my hood and lifts it onto my head.

“Something is definitely different. Didn’t I say something like this was going to happen?”

“Thanks. So thoughtful of you.” I shrug the hood off and respond to Jesse’s offended expression at the action. “We’re still inside, dork.”

“Where are you going?”

Before I answer, Fat dons a mock voice that I think is supposed to be me. “It doesn’t matter where I go so long as I’m with you, sugar face.”

I make the fake throw-up face again, pretending to hurl all over the feline. Sugar face? We don’t say that in my apartment. Not even in jest.

“I’m just responding to these gross vibes you and the neighbour boy are putting out there.” Fat offers a judgemental gaze of I-told-you-so.

The wise decision is to ignore the cat. If I start getting into it with her, Jesse will be correct in thinking I’ve gone off the deep end. “I’m not sure. I was just going for a wander, see where I end up. Wanna come with?”

Fat shoots me a not-so-subtle wink. “You sly devil.”

“Cool. I need to grab a coat. C’mon.” Jesse grabs my hand and pulls me out of the apartment. I barely grab keys from the hall table before we’re in the apartment hallway. I hear Fat’s voice from the other side as I’m locking up.

“Make good decisions, Boss. We all know how prone you are for the opposite.”

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.”

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.”

 

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.

Hear no Evil

“Oh, God. I’ve gone deaf.”

I look up from my book. Fat is parked at the edge of the sectional, while I’m cozy in the corner where the couch becomes perpendicular.  I watch the back of her head bob and weave as she watches Boyfriend’s fingers fly across the ivory keys of the no longer pristine upright piano.

Fat’s voice becomes increasingly fraught with worry, “Oh, God. Oh my fucking damn. I’ve been struck deaf. I don’t have the thumbs or the patience to learn sign language; I’m not a monkey for Christ’s sake.” I see her spine straighten as the metaphoric lightbulb appears above her pointed ears. “Hold up. I can hear my own voice. Wait. Is that the voice in my head? I can’t tell. Hey. Hey, guy,” Fat’s paw reaches out in the direction of Boyfriend as if to will him to pay attention to her, “can you make some noise so I can tell if I’m deaf or not?” Her paw pathetically sweeps side-to-side in the air. Boyfriend plays on, letting his body lean into the notes he plays, completely oblivious to the feline behind him.

“For a self-appointed shrink, you’re a colossal dumb ass.”

Fat jumps with shock and comes heartbreakingly close to bailing off the couch. Unfortunately, I’m not so lucky as to bear witness to one of my dreams coming true. “I forgot you were there. Book without pictures, I see. I’m proud of you.” Fat momentarily regains her charming demeanor. She blinks twice when my words finally become sound in her brain. “I can hear you.”

“And goody for me, I can hear you too. Seriously, Fat, what’s your deal? We agreed it was time to take a break from the catnip.” I reach my hand between two couch cushions and pull out my bookmark.

“Kicked the stuff. Cold turkey. Don’t need it. Nope. Fine without.” Fat throws looks over her shoulder at Boyfriend between her chopped sentences. “I don’t understand it, boss. The whole thing reeks of voodoo. He’s like the Charlie Chaplin version of King Midas; everything he touches turns to mute. Guess that explains why I never hear you two having–”

“I will pay you fifty dollars not to finish that sentence.” I cut her off, even though it doesn’t matter if she finishes the sentence or not. The next time Boyfriend and I find ourselves on the cusp of a XXX throw down, I’m just going to picture Fat with her pervy ear pressed against the other side of the door. At least we have the forethought to lock her out of the bedroom. Who knows what kind of advice would spring up at our next therapy session if she had a front row seat to that show.

“Aw, hell, Fat. His headphones are plugged into the piano.” I silently hoped I could ride out her potential deafness a little longer for amusement’s sake, but the conversational path we stumbled upon is one that certainly does not need to be travelled. I toss the library book onto the coffee table.

Fat invites herself to curl up against my sternum. Her ears flick as they absorb the surrounding noise. She lets out a contended sigh, “Creepo downstairs is listening to old school Alanis Morissette. Neat.”

I scratch the back of her ears, “You can hear that?” Aside the hum from the refrigerator, I don’t hear anything.

“Believe me, boss, when I’m not having a deaf day I hear lots of things.”

I’m instantly uncomfortable. If she can hear the downstairs neighbour’s music… I crane my neck to look down at the feline, she has some sort of nervous tic with one of her eyes. I watch it rapidly close and reopen. Almost like it was intentional.

She repeats the end of her last sentence, “Lots of things.”

The Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boyfriend Situation

“You act like you’ve never seen a magic wand before. I’ll thank you to leave me to my business.” Fat struts through the bedroom holding a blue plastic stick in her teeth. Frayed string, still connected to the dissected toy, trails behind her.

I press the bookmark icon and move the iPad beside me on the bed. “That’s a rather whimsical idea for a self-proclaimed therapist, isn’t it?” Never one to forgo a game of pretend, an invisible wand appears in my hand and a terrible accent takes over, “Now, by my magic, you will not be lousy and instead be transformed into the cat I’ve been waiting for my whole life. Abracadabra.” With a flick of the wrist and infinite imaginary sparkles, the dowdy S.P.C.A rescue becomes a bengal tiger.

“Never in my life have I heard of a French-Canadian Fairy Godmother,” and poof, midnight arrives; my gorgeous tiger devolves into the sad reality who is struggling to jump on top of the night stand with the eviscerated cat toy. She stops, clearly annoyed that the long piece of plastic isn’t cooperating and her fangs finally release it. Fat scowls, jumps up beside me on the bed and hisses her words as she regretfully stares at the stick, “Fairy Godmothers also don’t say ‘Abracadabra’, fool.” She turns, seeing that my invisible wand still points in her direction. She gingerly pushes my hand away with her paw, minutely shaking her head. “Don’t embarrass yourself.” She looks and sees the boxes stacked on the dresser. “Are we going to discuss this Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boyfriend Situation further?”

“Whatever are you talking about, Fat?”

“Pfft. You don’t think I notice the extra human has already moved into our one bedroom apartment… or am I supposed to refer to him as Prince Charming?”

At this point I have to say that I really thought she’d take a little longer to notice. He didn’t come with much stuff; yes, Boyfriend had, in fact, moved in.

“Does that make me Cinderella in this whole bit you’re doing, Fat? I mean, Hairy Oh-My-Godmother.”

“Hairy Godmother will be fine.” Fat elongates her body, getting a good stretch. “Don’t draw too many parallels to Cinderella, she took care of a household all the while putting up with the verbal and mental abuse from inside the walls of the homestead. You only slightly manage the latter.”

I can’t help it; I reach over and scratch behind her ears. There is nothing to say because I can’t disagree.

Fat’s happy cat face takes over and she kneads the cotton comforter. “How have the first few days been having him here? I know how possessive you are about your space.”

“It’s been lovely. I mean, of course it’s been lovely, he hasn’t seen my irrational side yet.”

Fat’s head lolls to the left, “You mean the crazy side of you? That insane chromosome that your mother seems to think skips a generation?” A paw comes up beside her mouth as though Fat is wary of somebody reading her lips. Her voice sinks to a whisper, “I’d bet all my catnip that the crazy hits every generation with the strength of Sugar Ray Leonard.”

I bite the inside of my cheek. What’s going to happen when Boyfriend realizes that I’m out of my God damn head? I feed my crazy as much as I feed Fat — it’s like having another eccentric house pet.

“Don’t fret,” Fat’s eyes close with content, “I’m qualified to mediate couple’s therapy as well.”

Se-doc-tion Techniques: Trial and Error

“This is the worst aquarium I’ve ever seen.” Fat grips the cage door of the cat carrier while we sit in the waiting room. “Wait. Those are only pictures of fish.” She looks at the wall, seeing photos of the staff’s pets.

I flip the page of a running magazine from 2011, pretending not to hear the venomous resentment in her voice. Instead, I somehow accidentally kick the side of the cat carrier that just so happens to be on the floor near my feet.

“I hope you stubbed your toe on that one, bitch.” Fat snarls from inside the travel case. She claws with urgency at the thin bars that keep her from freedom. “Let me out of here. I’m claustrophobic.”

The receptionist leans on her elbows on the counter. “What a precious kitty.”

“She’s something alright.” Instead of calling the woman a moron, I give her a fake smile. When I brush hair out of my face I mumble to myself, “Precious my ass.”

“I heard that, jerk.” Fat’s voice is accompanied with the sound of nails against the plastic siding of the carrier.

“We’re ready for you, dear.” The receptionist points to a door diagonal to her seat, “Room two, the doctor will be right in. Your usual vet is on maternity leave, so you’ll be seeing Dr. Berk today.”

“Thanks.”

When we get inside and shut the door, I unlock the small jail cell and set her on the examining table. Fat sneers with repulsion when she regards the room. “I hate it here.” She eyes a wall photo of twenty different puppy breeds sitting in a line. “Framed photos of animals aren’t credentials. You’re aware of that, right? This place is trying too hard to convince you it’s legit with its pictures of baby animals and textbook art of a cat skeleton. That’s horror movie stuff right there. Red flags galore.” Her head rotates to look at me over her shoulder, “The real aquarium better be worth this torture.”

“Can you stop with the dramatics?” I turn my phone on silent and put it back in my pocket. “You’re aware that I’m not actually taking you to the aquarium, yes?”

Fat’s jaw drops in genuine surprise. “This is an abomination. Clearly you do not understand my love of jellyfish. Since you got stung by one, I adore them even more.”

Unconsciously, my hand grazes my right bicep. “What amazes me is that you keep falling for terrible lies. The only time you and I leave the house together is when we come here.”

A gentle knock at the door interrupts and the veterinarian saunters into the room.

Fat looks him up and down. “This one’s dreamy huh?” It takes her a second to realize I’m not going to answer her. “God forbid he sees you talk to your cat. You’re the worst cat lady ever.”

“Hi, this must be,” the vet looks at his clipboard of notes, “Mullette? Did I say that right?”

My hands rest on the examining table as I explain. “Yeah. She has the unharnessed rock and roll attitude of an eighties musician. The extra letters at the end are just to make it sound more feminine. Or French.”

“Same thing,” Fat interrupts but continues to gawk at the animal doctor.

“Everyone just calls her Fat on account of…” my words lose momentum and I just jab Fat’s dangling stomach pouch.

Her penetrating stare finally pulls away from the vet and she looks at me with wide, hateful eyes. “What the hell was that about?”

“I think you hurt her feelings.” The vet reaches a hand out to Fat and he pets the length of her spine.

“Are you the one they call Doctor Feel Good?” Fat purrs when he scratches the side of her neck.”You’ve got a real gentle touch, sir.”

“Is that so?” I watch Fat slut herself out for attention.

The vet looks up from Fat, oblivious. “She seems to be over it. Very affectionate this one. We’ll just give her those two inoculations and send you on your way.”

“You must get called Midas rather often. Your touch is gold.” Fat’s face falls when he turns around to prepare the needles that are on the counter behind him.

“A pickup line on the vet, really?” My whisper is so slight, it’s almost mute.

“Screw the jellyfish. I’m in love with that piece of human meat.” She nods in the vet’s direction. “Date him. Save yourself a fortune in vet bills.”

“But Fat,” I draw invisible lines across my forehead.

Her grey body stretches out across the counter. “The wrinkles? Frankly I think it just shows that he cares too much. Since when is that a bad thing?”

I tally up the amount I’ve spent in Mutt’s vet bills in the last half-year. “Okay, I’m in.” The vet turns around, needle in hand. I playfully flip my hair and my voice finds its volume, “You must get called Mida–”

“–Wedding ring. Abort the plan!” Fat jumps off the table and hides under the chair.

“What just happened to my loving little friend?” He bends over to see her crouched in full-defence mode: ears back, eyes wild. “Sorry, what were you saying?”

“Save the sweet talk, pal; we’re not interested.” Fat’s words spit out angrily.

I feel my eyes bulge and I speak slowly. “I don’t… remember.”

The vet looks up at me with a gigantic question mark written all over his face. “And what about…?” He looks again at Fat.

I shrug, “I told you. It’s that bipolar rock and roll attitude. That bitch is crazy.”