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]

Lowering the Bar

“You’ve got a little something there.”

Fat’s paw gesticulates in a circular motion in front of her furry chest.

Compared to the glorious weather outside, the apartment is immersed in darkness. I peel off my sunglasses and look down at what was, when I left for work fourteen hours ago, a flawless cream tank top. The shirt has since been violated and scandalized by a crusty smattering of brown something. From its location, the mysterious substance looks like alien areola on my shirt.

“Damn. Can’t keep it classy, can I?” I mumble and pull my top taut with one hand while the thumbnail of the opposite one picks at the dried-on smudge. I’m looking down at such an intense angle my neck folds like an accordion and becomes a double chin. At least that’s what it feels like.

“What is it?” Fat moves to sit at my heels. Her double chin flattens as she lengthens her neck to stare upward. Such juxtaposition.

I don’t think, I just act. Pinching the cotton fabric from either side of the mess, I lift the stain to my mouth.

“Boss, no!” Fat shields her eyes as though there will be some terrible backlash from my actions.

My tongue presses against the stain. It is just as I thought.

“Barbeque sauce.”

Fat carefully lowers her paw and peeks out. When she realizes that neither of us are going to die, her paw touches down to the floor and the feline sits straighter as her spine becomes rigid.

“You’re an idiot. Barbeque sauce? A brown smudge could have been any number of gross things.”

“I was at a barbeque after work, Fat. There is nothing else it could have been. Besides, if you look at the trajectory,” I mime eating and draw an invisible line from my imaginary burger to the stain on my right boob, “the angle checks out.” This is where high school math class pays off; I was wondering when this crap would come in handy.

Fat doesn’t think I notice her claws slowly digging into the carpet. “You’re so frivolous with stupid things. Nothing on your face showed sign of second thought to sticking unknown dried sludge in your mouth.” Her voice screeches with frustration.

“What’s your problem, Fat?”

“This devil-may-care attitude of yours. I just don’t understand why that’s not a blanket mentality. The therapist in me is curious, but the roommate in me is beyond tired of your moronic nature.”

“What do you mean?” I stick the soiled section of shirt in my mouth and suck the mesquite flavour.

The feline snaps, “Get that out of your mouth; you’re not a child.” She waits for me to obey before she continues. “You’re so carefree with all the stupid stuff in your life, but when it comes down to things that are important, you hesitate and drag your heels until the decisions are made for you. You lack instinct. I can’t think of a time when you’ve been attuned to your visceral gut.”

“That time in Mexico when everybody else ate at that gnarly dive bar and I had a bad feeling about it. They all ended up sick in the ‘it’s coming out of both ends’ kind of way.” I pair the anecdote with a cheeky smile. I’m pretty proud of that decision two years ago. Though, it may have been the voice in my head screaming about how it seemed like a bad idea; if I recall correctly, my gut was hungry at the time.

“Boss,” Fat draws out the word so she sounds like a serpent, “That’s not what I meant. But clearly your brain got busy rubbing elbows with the beer at the barbeque, so it’s kind of a lost cause talking to you right now. I get it. You don’t think things through. But for the sake of my sanity, can you be that way with everything in your life so I know not to have any hope?”

“I can’t promise that, Fat.” My eyes drift back down to the stain. I don’t know how I’m still hungry.

“It’s just not fair to me to know that you have the capacity to make informed decisions. If I always expect you to be a buffoon I can’t ever be disappointed.”

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.”

Office Hours: Two Steps Forward…

“What do you expect to get out of life?”

The wire-rimmed fake spectacles fall down the bridge of Fat’s nose when she looks up from a journal. I was under the impression that particular book of my brain matter was lost years ago; Fat must have led some sort of archeological dig to uncover it. There’s no telling what kind of my nonsense is scribbled in that book. Fat pushes the glasses back into position with the back of her paw as she sits pensively on the coffee table.

I roll onto my side to face her and almost fall off the couch. “You’re not even going to start with something easy like, ‘how was work?'” 

“Nope.” Fat doesn’t look up, her stare is transfixed on the journal page open in front of her. From upside down and slightly sideways, there’s no hope for me to read what has her attention. “Answer the question,” Fat’s tone is that of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada – slightly sing-song yet authoritative and forceful; it gets results. The page flips and Fat’s chin keeps tucked against her chest. It’s hard to have a conversation when I’m offered the top of her grey head instead of eye contact. I’m still not sure how she convinced me to give this another go. All of a sudden I’m on the couch and she’s telling me to make the most of our time together. We both know that she’s not a qualified therapist.

As I stumble through silence, Fat shoots me a momentary I’m-still-waiting glance. Her eyes succumb to the gravitational pull of my written words and for the short-term I’m rescued from her hard stare. That bitch is getting better at this, I’m actually considering how to answer the question.

“To have fun and make it worth my time.” I up-talk, as we Canadians do, making my words sound more like a question than a statement.

“Interesting.” Fat finishes what she was reading and completely disregards the journal as though it no longer holds importance. “And are you making the most of your time and having fun?”

“Not really,” The truth comes out before I even have a chance to filter it. Balls. Fat is going to relish this. My hand gently slaps the side of my face and stays there. I should know better by now, I really should.

Her eyes widen in surprise. “Can’t say I expected you to be so candid, boss. You’re usually so reluctant to share. Now I see you’ve been keeping your dance card rather full. Could one draw the conclusion that you’re not having as much fun as you would like?”

My hand remains glued to my face like a child pretending to be a pirate and turning their palm into a DIY eyepatch. “I’m not suggesting any discontent, Fat. I just feel like I need an adventure or something. I need to meet some strangers, create new stories. It’s boring and predictable around here. Frankly, it blows chunks.”

“I’ll try not to take that as a slight against my company.” Fat sits straighter and the glasses slip down her nose once again. “I need to get some contacts or something. It might be time to pop in for a visit with my optometrist.” Her paw pushes the front of the specs up her face.

Finally, my hand unsuctions from my face and moves to rest on my stomach. “Perhaps if you didn’t wear glasses you stole from an old plastic Santa Claus, it would be a non-issue. I’m quite certain your eyesight is fine.” I try to keep the tone light, but the stupidity of others is one of my hot buttons; the only stupidity I can stomach is that of my own creation.

 Fat doesn’t take my hint, and the phony eyeglasses remain on her furry face. “As for your issue, boss: May I suggest that you…” She drifts off mid-sentence and looks momentarily revolted. “Can you move that blanket?” She nods behind me to the chocolate throw lazily rolled up and left on the back of the couch. “The way it’s folded makes it look like a camel toe. I’m trying to offer some well-founded advice and I’m getting distracted by what looks like a fabric vagina near your head.”

Without turning, I reach backward and my fingers blindly search until they come across the soft fabric. It unravels as I throw it to the other side of the sectional. “You were saying?”

“You should go on vacation. Take some time and get away from everything normal. Where are they at with sending people to live on Mars?”

My arm hooks in an insincere aw-shucks move, “Missed the application deadline, Fat.” My look turns serious, “Besides, you know I don’t like space.”

“But you loved Star Tre–”

To drown out her acknowledgment of my secret shame – the latest films of the space franchise, I speak over her as loud and fast as possible, “Vacation. Yes. I’ll look into it.”