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?”


Office Hours: The Trojan Horse

“Is that your interpretation of a Trojan horse?”

My back curves as I peer over Fat’s shoulder; she’s very involved in something open in the Paper app on the iPad. It looks like a kindergarten drawing of a horse-like animal on wheels.

The grey feline scrambles to smother the digital sketch with her gelatinous obesity. The hair down her spine stands rigid.

“Don’t look at this. My eyes only, thank you!” There’s an edge to her voice when she shouts.

I go into defense mode and lift my hands to shield my face in case an angry kitty claw swipe comes my way. Knowing that she doesn’t want me to pry only feeds my curiosity. Now I have to know what she’s hiding.

“So, it’s not a Trojan horse?” I speak slowly and lean backward, still wary. Rightfully so.

Fat’s tiny scowling face twists around as though The Exorcist was a movie based on her unbalanced nature. My muscles tense, not sure what’s going to happen next. I think to cover my eyes, but I’m captivated by her frenzy.

“For your information, boss, this is going to make us a fortune. That’s why it’s so hush hush.” If her boiling blood were a city, what happens next is the equivalent of an ice age in the Sahara. “Okay, I’ll tell you.” It’s a good thing she can’t keep a secret or I’d be going crazy. It’ s like gossip is stress relief for the feline; the more she divulges, the more she calms down. Her fur reveals the horribly drawn picture on the tablet. “It’s a Zampony.”

I play along as though fully informed on the subject at hand. “Yes.” I nod. “A Zampony, of course. I was just looking at it from the wrong angle.”

Fat’s face contorts with disgust. “Don’t do that. Don’t pretend you know what I’m talking about in order to spare yourself from stupidity.”

One sentence and I’ve turned from the boss into an idiot sidekick. Fat can really make me feel insignificant if she tries.

The cat sighs, patience deflates from her chest like a balloon pierced by a bullet. “It’s a Zamboni with a horse head. This is Canada. Every arena will want one. Just you wait.”

“I don’t…” my face scrunches and I squint at the iPad as if distorting it with my vision will help me see how amazing Fat’s idea is. I lose my train of thought and my sentence runs itself off a metaphorical cliff. When Fat stares at me, waiting for me to finish the thought, all I can do is shrug… and then yawn.

“I’m sorry, boss. Do my dreams bore you?” Fat turns in a semicircle and places her paws on top of the iPad. “What are you doing here anyways?”

“Didn’t we,” I shoot a quick glance to the time on the PVR, “have a session today?”

“Oh damn. We did – we do.” The good doctor quickly corrects herself. “I’ve made an observation as of recent, boss: you critique my dreams when you keep yours neatly written and folded up in a small square in your wallet. Tell me which is better, which garners results.”

“You snooped through my wallet?”

Her little grey head bobs up and down with confirmation.“Every Tuesday since you brought me home from the SPCA. Helps you discover a lot about a person. Why do you keep them itemized on a list?”

It never occurred to me that it was strange. “Just as a reminder, I guess. I don’t want to forget what’s on my bucket list.” My memory is akin to a sieve.

“And yet, you hide your dreams away and judge me for what I would like to achieve in this lifetime.” The kitty is ruffled. “I just don’t get how leaping out of a plane doesn’t phase you, but actually trying to accomplish something petrifies you.” Fat sneers, “Pathetic.”

“Are you saying that I should have my ambition on display?”

“Breakthrough.” Her tone is curt and Fat turns her attention back to the iPad. She doesn’t look up with her dismissal, “We’re done for today. Please see yourself out.”