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?”

 

Different Kinds of Liars

Since I’m a skeptical person I would call your cat out as
the cappuccino 
wasn’t really that common until the 1950’s.
And in fact didn’t even exist until the 1930’s…

I look up from the Facebook message on my phone and scan the room until I see the fat feline curled into a ball as sleeping on top of her scratch post. This message contradicts what she told me just the other day.

“Hey. Wake up, liar.” I grab Mutt’s green stuffed dog off the floor and whip it with the force of a MLB pitcher in her direction. It hits the wall behind her and the wall-mounted candle holders shift from the impact. The fact that they don’t fall off the wall makes me feel proud of my DIY skills. The alien dog ricochets, landing cozily on Fat’s hip.

She stirs and opens one eye to look in my direction.

“See this?” I hold up my phone from my nook in the couch, flashing the screen at her.

Fat speaks through a yawn. “You’ve had that phone for two years. Cavemen have better technology. Time to stop being proud of that thing.”

I keep the phone extended, “Read the message, dumb ass.”

“Boss, a couple things,” Fat rolls onto her stomach and her second eye opens, “One, that screen that’s causing you to act a fool is blank.”

I flip the iPhone over in my hand; the screen is black. I punch in my passcode and the words light up again. I turn the message back in Fat’s direction. She doesn’t even pretend to look at it.

“And two, I know I’m so awesome you think I’m bionic, but nobody can read those piddily words from fifteen feet away. For all I can tell, you’re showing me some kind of internet porn.”

I read aloud the message from Aaron and try not to lose my patience when she interrupts by ripping her claws into the scratching post.

“You seem remarkably cavalier for a liar.”

Fat’s claws dig deep into the post as she stretches out, ass pointed into the air. “Quite the majestic high horse you ride on, boss. Clydesdale, is it?”

I toss the iPhone onto the wood coffee table. “What are you getting at, Fat?”

“I just find it interesting that you’re quick to call me a liar when you’ve done some damn fine work to decorate this apartment with lies.” She finally sits, regally atop her worn post. She looks at the Remington typewriter that sits on the cupboard above my desk and the framed tin ceiling tiles on the walls. “Well, lies and old lady shit. Boyfriend really buys this charade, huh?”

“I like my old lady shit, thank you.” My arms cross over my chest. I don’t lie. Can’t, actually. Too many tells. It would have been a waste of my time to learn to play poker.

Fat clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “I know what you’re doing.” She shakes her head. “You always do this, anytime somebody steers the conversation somewhere you don’t want to go you subtly relocate the conversation to different ground. You, boss,” the feline smiles, “are like a magnet on a compass.”

“What does that even mean?”

Fat’s green eyes brighten as if I’d proven something, “See? Doing it again. Tricky, tricky.” Fat’s fangs show just slightly. She jumps down, races across the floor and Fat hops up gracefully onto the coffee table.

“What’s this, then?” Her eyes skim over the black and white news print.

“The paper.” I try to sound as obvious as possible.

“Something seems odd about it though… this is the paper you brought into the apartment today?”

She knows.

“It’s funny, some of the words that are in here – t hey don’t even seem like words at all.”

She’s just dragging this out to hurt me.

“I have to hand it to you, boss. I never thought you could finish a crossword puzzle all on your own.”

I can’t. I’ve come close and failed time and time again.

“If somebody, say, Boyfriend, were to come into the room and see all the squares filled in with letters, that somebody might think that you managed to figure out all the answers. One generally doesn’t look too closely.” Her eyes skim over a clue and she reads the word that I’ve written vertically. “OZYMET. Where in the world did you hear of that? College?”

“It’s a…” I lean in an attempt to read the clue and come up with something that sounds both feasible and works with the written hint, “type of Polynesian…suit…for…tib-en-dor…fff…” I can’t lean any further without falling over.

“One more time with feeling. Maybe skip the random syllables you added at the end.”

“I’m feeling hungry. Fat, are you hungry?” Damn it. I am a magnet on a compass.

Fat brightens, and the metaphorical interrogation light dims. “Starving.”

We both rise and she trails behind as I walk into the kitchen.

The kibble fills her bowl with tinny sounds. She speaks between enormous bites.

“Lying by omission is still lying. Love the placement of Faulkner and Burroughs on your bookshelf, by the way. Evidence of intelligence. Brilliant, boss. Just brilliant.”

Warning Bells of Bad Things Yet to Come

“Oh, hell.” The urgent alarm clanging in my head and imaginary flashing red lights behind my irises alert me to the danger zone that I’m about to enter. I briefly wonder if I’m fated to become a casualty in my own apartment.

Fat sits, waiting for me, directly in front of the door with her shrink spectacles on. My hands, one still on the doorknob and the other with the key in the lock, move as fast as they can. I pull hard on the handle and lock the door. I feel akin to a fighter pilot using their ejector seat.

“Well that was a bit much.” Fat has somehow appeared on this side of the door. For a portly gal, she sure can move when inspired.

What a waste of a frenzied exit. “I thought I was in the wrong apartment.”

Fat stares at me dryly until I can’t take the silence.

“Fine.” I add a few extra “I”s to make the word sound longer than it needs to be. “I’ve just had a long day, Fat. I’ve been going since,” I check my phone and see that it’s closing in on midnight, “way too early this morning. My rhythm with the universe is off; timing especially, I missed two buses today for no reason. Mutt’s broken again, and the vet doesn’t know what’s up. It’s stressing me out and not even a workout cured the fried wires in my head.” My phone beeps in my hand as if on cue; I show Fat the screen with a former bachelor’s name on it. “This guy.” An icy tone accompanies the words as I delete the text and send the message off to Bell Mobility’s version of the Bermuda Triangle. I look down at Fat again. “All I want to do is throw some food at you and enjoy a few minutes of decompression before I crawl into bed.” I unlock the door for the second time in a minute.

“Very well.” Fat walks back into the apartment before me. She makes a right after the kitchen and crawls under the desk without another word.

My head tilts to the side, dumbfounded by this uncharacteristic behaviour. Then it happens again; inside my head sounds like a boxing match where somebody keeps ringing the bell and an ambulance with flashing lights tours my cerebral cortex. Pissing off a cat is always a dangerous gamble; their range of passive-aggressiveness ranges from petty annoyance to murder.

To be on the safe side, I close the bedroom door behind me. I don’t want that she-devil eating my face off when I’m unconscious.

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.”