My Cats’ Luxury Apartment

     An official of FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, maintained an opulent lifestyle that included a luxury apartment in New York–for his cats.

                                                              The Wall Street Journal

Image result for wet cat food
“Put down the Friskies and nobody gets hurt.”

 

As I turned the key in Apartment 31G, high above Manhattan, I closed my eyes and braced myself for the spectacle I was sure to encounter once I entered.  I opened the door and, just as I expected, saw empty bags of Iams Less Active Catfood in the distinctive turquoise bag strewn across the floor.  A Fancy Feast Classic Seafood Variety Pack was sitting on the counter, with three cans empty.  My roommate Rocco had apparently used the sports page to relieve himself rather than make the arduous trek all . . . . the . . . way back to the kitty box like a civilized cat.

Image result for wet cat food
Working on a six-pack.

 

The situation was nearly intolerable, but I had no one to blame but myself.  After all, I’d acted in The Odd Couple in high school, and should have remembered that roommates were like drinking–never mix, never worry.  But there was something about Rocco–the tuxedo cat I lived with–that made him hard to turn down when he asked if he could move in with me.

Maybe it was his lack of manners, the way he bowls over everything and everybody in his way to get what he wants.  He’s an alpha male, and I’m a beta.  He’s Oscar Madison to my Felix Unger; he’s a slob, and I’m–well, let’s just say I’m . . . fastidious.

Image result for odd couple

I heard a burp from the vicinity of the couch and knew he was home.  I supposed that should have been some consolation, that he hadn’t left his mess for me to clean up.  On the other hand, if he were out somewhere I could straighten things out without his interference; the infuriating indifference he shows to any attempt whatsoever to maintain a luxury apartment in a state that wouldn’t warrant condemnation by the Board of Health.

“Geez, ya scared me,” he said as he lifted his head up from the sofa cushion.

“I hardly think so.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because if I’d truly scared you, you would have at least jumped out of that heap of trash you’re lounging in.”

“I’m comfortable with whom I am.”

Who not whom,” I said.

“Geez–I woulda thought you’d go the other way on that one.  I was tryin’ to use proper English.”

“I’m glad I’ve had some influence on you, even if it’s only superficial.  The relative pronoun functions as part of the relative clause, not the main clause.  So think of it as ‘I am comfortable with the person who I am.’

“If I ever think of it again, I will.”  He sat up, grabbed the remote and turned on “Top Cat,” the 60s cartoon that’s his favorite–dare I say “only”–artistic interest.

Image result for top cat

“You know, our master works very hard to provide us with a luxury apartment–it’s the least you could do to pick up after yourself every once in a while.”

“Define ‘hard work,’” he said with a skeptical tone.  “Is it ‘hard work’ to open up an envelope with a large cash payment from a television network?”

“Well, probably not.”

“Is it ‘hard work’ to accept sexual favors from a precocious jeune fille sent to persuade you to site the next World Cup in Moldavia, or Upper Volta, or Burkina Faso?”

I had him dead to rights now.  “Upper Volta and Burkina Faso are the same country, you dingbat.”

“You get my drift,” he said as he stretched his arms before hopping up onto the counter and popping the top off another can of Fancy Feast.

Image result for tuxedo cat
“Oh, give it a rest, wouldya?”

 

“You’re getting quite a gut from lying around all day eating that . . . junk.”

“You know and I know that being an international soccer official is just about the most corrupt job in the world, after New Jersey traffic court judge and Massachusetts Democratic elected official.”

“So?”

“So you’re in this up to your whiskers, don’t come on all high and mighty with me.  You’re in pari delicto with the whole scam.”

It struck me that there ought to be a Latin logical fallacy for what Rocco had just done–“argument by changing the subject” or something–but there wasn’t, so he had a smug little smile on his face as he made his way back to the couch.

Image result for indicted mass speakers of the house
“I’m as innocent as the last Speaker of the House, who has paid his debt to society.”

 

We went our separate ways, as always.  It’s no fun having a roommate who doesn’t share your interests which, in my case, include washing myself 6 times a day.  Still, we were very fortunate.  It isn’t every cat who has a luxury apartment, and a room of his own to sleep in–on the bed!–to look out the window of, to retire to when the din of the television in the living room becomes too annoying, to . . .

“Holy crap!”  It was Rocco, screaming at the TV.

“What?” I called out to him.  He doesn’t usually get excited, it had to be something important, like a Today Show interview with the editor of Cat Fancy or something.

“They just indicted a bunch of soccer officials for bribery!”

I came around the counter and looked at the screen.  There was our master, doing the perp walk, while the announcer droned on about a $150 million kickback scheme.  I shook my head in disbelief.  “We’re doomed,” I said finally with disgust.

“Why do you say that?” Rocco asked.

“All of this,” I said, sweeping my paw before him.  “You can kiss it goodbye.”

But as always, the Roc-man saw things a bit differently.  “Don’t be a sap,” he said.  “We’ll turn state’s evidence and write a true crime tell-all book.”

“Isn’t that prohibited by ‘Son of Sam‘ laws?”

Image result for david berkowitz

“You mean the guy who claimed he was possessed by a demon in the form of a dog named Harvey?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

“Wrong species–we’re cats!”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

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At the Cattes Film Festival

          The Walker Art Center, a well-regarded modern art museum in Minneapolis, held what is believed to be the first Internet Cat Video Film Festival recently.

                    The Boston Globe


“Truffaut? Please–he couldn’t change my litter box.”

 

I’ve come with Rocco–my tuxedo cat and the only one I have left after the recent death of his fractious older brother Okie–to the Cattes Internet Video Film Festival. We have high hopes for what we believe to be the Oak Man’s greatest work–Laser Pointer a la Mode–a moody noir meditation on the futility of love for a long-gelded grey tabby male.


Okie, as he approached Orsonwellesian size.

 

“What do you think of our chances?” Roc asks. He’s wearing a beret–a French touch that strikes me as an affectation. I have opted for the rough-and-tumble red-blooded Americanski look favored by directors such as John Huston. Huston famously divorced one of his wives when she demanded he choose between her and a pet chimpanzee. I’m not that far gone as a cat-man–not yet at least.

 


“Anybody seen my monkey?”

 

“I don’t know,” I say glumly to Rocco. It would be great, a feather in Okie’s cap, if the world of film were to recognize Laser Pointer for what it is–the capstone of a great career–but the competition’s tough. The simplistic videos of cats in t-shirts, cats playing the piano, we’ll blow through those amateurish efforts like shit through a goose. It’s the avant-garde I’m worried about; the long-angle re-tellings of The Cat in the Hat, the shifting points of view to be found in Kibbles ‘n Bits, Mon Amour. There’s a new new wave of young cat film directors out there, NYU, UCLA and ASPCA-trained. These kids are good, whereas Okie, Roc and me, we’re a bunch of old-schoolers stumbling around the house Blair Witch-style with a hand-held camcorder that looks like the VHS equivalent of a room-size Univac computer.


“Je regrettez to tellez-vous, le chat has upchucked on le rug again.”

 

“You have to admit in terms of visual comedy, we’re right up there with Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton,” Roc says as he signs the flea collar of a young female admirer.

“Are you staying at the Radisson?” the cute little Persian asks.

“We’re going to be pretty busy meeting with studios,” I say as I steer Roc away from what could be a potential paternity suit if he hadn’t been fixed about the same time I was.

“Hey, I want to have a little fun while I’m in town,” he grumbles to me.

“Your fun days are over, as are mine,” I tell him with a censorious look. “From now on, we’re dedicated to our art–not chicks, okay?”

He doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t have much choice. We’re swept along by the crowd into theatre #3, where Laser Pointer is scheduled to start in two minutes.

“So what if we come out of the festival without a studio deal?” Roc asks with a note of concern in his voice.

“We stay on the festival circuit,” I say. “Sundance, Telluride, maybe even . . . Boston.”

“Why bother?” Roc asks with a withering deprecation of his home town that surprises me. After all, he caught his first mouse there, humped his first couch there.

“You never know,” I say. “We might get a short-run distribution contract. Anything to avoid the stigma of direct-to-DVD.”

That seems to mollify him and, after I get refreshments–Raisinets for me, Liva Snaps for him–we settle into our seats.

We sit through the obligatory safety recitation–no smoking, where the exits are, turn off your cell phones, et cetera–and the lights go down.

“Cross your fingers,” I say, and he looks at me as if I’m daft. “I’ve got six digits per paw and can’t cross any of ’em,” he says and a bit huffily I might add. “Cross your own damn fingers.”


Slo-Poke: Essentialment a l’enjoyment du cinema.

 

The credits roll and our hope and dreams are launched into that artificial night of le cinema, which has inspired so many dreams, provoked so many nightmares, launched tongues to lick so many Slo-Poke All-Day caramel suckers. I exhale, feeling a sense of relief at the end of a long, difficult process over what we’ve accomplished. The festival received 10,000 cat videos; that’s right, five figures of Americans wasting their time as we have, blocking out shots, dealing with Friskies-fed prima donnas who want to stay in their trailers when the light is just right outside. Now it’s all come down to this; twenty-minutes of what we think was Okie at the very pinnacle of his cinematic powers.


Bergman: “We’ll have to re-shoot the death scene–he woke up from his 6-hour nap.”

 

I can sense the mood of the crowd as wave upon wave of Okie’s bleak end-of-life vision washes over them. It’s like an Ingmar Bergman movie with a concession-stand size pack of Twizzlers Red Licorice. I hear one woman sobbing down front; false alarm, somebody stepped on her foot trying to get to his seat.

As the lights come up it’s clear we’ve got a winner on our hands. I turn to look at Rocco, and he’s got a sly little smile on his face that says “Hollywood here we come.” I can see him sizing up a kitten on a casting couch in his horny little mind: “I want you to play a scene in which you’re desperately, tragically in love with an eight-year-old tuxedo cat.”

After a hush, the audience begins to applaud, softly, reverently at first, then louder and with an intelligent, critical enthusiasm. “Auteur!” someone yells, and others take up the call. I look at Roc, we shrug our shoulders, then we make our way up the aisle to the stage.

“Thank you, thank you very much,” I say since Rocco is capable only of a caw-like meow. “On behalf of our late colleague Okie, we are pleased that you enjoyed our entry in the Art-House category here at the Cattes Film Festival.”

“Art-House?” a cineaste in an aisle seat says, incredulous. “We thought it was a comedy.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

Injuries Few in Annual “Running of the Cats”

SOMERVILLE, Mass.  When this suburb of Boston decided to become a “sister city” with Pamplona, Spain a decade ago, few realized what it would mean for the many cat-owners who live here.


El gato de Somervilla

 

“We have cats the way some cities have cockroaches,” says city animal officer Hardy Michaels.  “There are more apartment dwellers here per capita than any city in Massachusetts, so we have more cats.  Also a lot of goldfish, but they don’t get out as much.”


Running of the idiots . . . er, bulls, Pamplona, Spain

 

Pamplona is the site of the annual running of the bulls made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises,” however, and when officials from the Spanish sister city visited Somerville in 1998, they asked why there was no counterpart to their annual San Fermin festival, generally regarded as the world’s leading manifestation of innate male stupidity.


Somerville, Mass.

 

“Frankly, we were caught off guard,” says Elinor Harrity, who chaired the Committee on International Relations that the City Council set up because they found the topic of sewers boring.  “We improvised to show our Spanish compadres that we meant them no disrespect, and the running of the cats was born.”


“Look out!”

 

All able-bodied males take to the streets of Somerville today while their Spanish counterparts participate in the San Fermin festival.  There are  eight scheduled runs before a pack of cats that have been fed only dry food and water for a week, whetting their appetite.  “It is a sign of your manhood to risk your life running before the jaws and claws of the hungry cats,” says Andrew Benis, a freelance photographer who recently broke up with his girlfriend of six years.  “Women admire a brave man, but what’s the point if you get trampled to death by a bull before you can score?”


On the prowl.

 

Last year, two men were admitted to Mt. Auburn Hospital with claw scratches on their calves and small puncture wounds on their hands that they suffered when they were bitten as they tried to remove attacking cats from their legs.  “You see your whole life flash before you when those cats come tearing around a street corner,” says George VandeKamp, who works in a used record store.  “Of course, if your life is mainly beer, pizza and beating off like mine, that’s not such a big deal.”

Because of its density, city officials say they would never issue a permit for a running of the bulls here, not that such an event is very likely.  “It’s pretty rare to see a bull around here,” says Assistant Chief of Police Dan Hampy, “although you hear a ton of it any time you walk into a bar.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

Summer Jobs for Cats

It’s the end of the first really hot day of the summer.  I take off my coat, drop my briefcase and turn around to find the usual scene; two cats sleeping.  Rocco, the young tuxedo cat on the back of the couch, barely troubles himself to turn in my direction.  Okie, the older grey tabby on the floor, opens his eyes and prepares to flop over for an obligatory tummy scratch.  Forgive me if I have trouble working up much sympathy.


11:30 Pilates class.

 

“You guys have a tough life,” I say.

“Not really,” Okie says.  He’s the more literal-minded of the two.  “We get plenty of rest, the food’s okay, lots of free time to exercise . . .”

“He was being ironic,” Rocco says.  Rocco “gets” my sense of humor, even if he prefers to ignore it.

“So what are you saying?” Okie asks, genuinely befuddled.

“What I mean is, I get up at five in the morning and don’t get home until 6:30 at night.  When I leave you guys are asleep, and when I get home you’re asleep.  You stay out all night and have all the food you want.  Nice work if you can get it.”


“You’ve got to stop and smell the roses.”



“We didn’t even have to apply for it!” Okie says, ever the ingenue.

“Irony again,” Rocco says, tucking his head under his paw hoping I’ll go away.

“You know . . .” I begin.

“Here it comes,” Rocco says.  “Another lecture.”

“. . . when I was your age, I had a job every summer, sometimes two jobs.”

“We have jobs,” Rocco says.

“What?” I ask incredulously.

“Rodent control.  Didn’t you see that mouse I left you in the garage this morning?”

“In fact I didn’t see it.  You dropped it right next to my car and I stepped on it.”

“Oops.  Sorry.”

“Not a nice way to start my day.  Anyway, as I started to say, it’s time you two went out and got summer jobs.”

“Who’s gonna hire me?” Okie says.  “I’m 56 in cat years.”

“I think you could find something, if you’d only look.”

“You don’t exactly help things with your stupid op-eds about how the minimum wage is too high for seasonal youth workers,” Rocco says.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I say, sincerely shocked.  “There’s no way in hell either one of you is worth $11 an hour.”

“There’s not a lot of work out there for unskilled laborers who haven’t got opposable thumbs,” Okie says.  “We’re not polydactyls, you know.”

He’s got a point.  “I’m not suggesting you should become accountants and hold pencils, I’m just saying you could try a little bit harder to earn your keep around here.”

Rocco finally rolls over and looks at me.  “Easy for you to say, you with twenty years of schooling,” he says.  If he had eyebrows, one of them would be arching right now.

“Well, yeah, but . . .”

“No buts about it.  I think we ought to just lie low for awhile, get advanced degrees and wait till things pick up a little.”

It’s my turn to be incredulous.  “Advanced degrees–in what?”

“Interior decorating.  Relaxation therapy,” Okie says earnestly.

“Comparative literature,” Rocco suggests flippantly.

“Those kinds of things would be fine if you two were young, but it’s too late now.  You’re in your peak earning years!” I say, a little exasperated.


Gandhi

 

“We must be the change we want to see in the world,” Okie says.  That was the motto he picked for his senior high school yearbook photo.

“Gandhi–right?” I ask.

“No–Bo Belinsky, playboy pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels,” Rocco says.  When he gets in one of his negative moods, he can be very sarcastic.


Bo Belinsky, with Mamie van Doren

 

“I’ll tell you what,” I say.  “I’ll put you on a piece work basis.”

“What’s that?” Okie asks.

“That’s how you get paid when you do farm work, like de-tasseling corn, or bucking hay.”

“‘Bucking hay,’” Rocco says, rolling over on his back to laugh.  “Sounds like a real hoe-down.”

”Nobody says ‘hoe-down,’” I remind him, “it’s ‘chivaree.’  Anyway, we used to get two cents a bale of hay,” I recall wistfully.

“Whoop-de-do,” Rocco says with contempt.

“It taught you that if you wanted to make money, you worked faster.”

“Thereby causing farm accidents involving the loss of limbs,” Rocco says.

“Nope–not me,” I say proudly, holding out both my arms.  “A farmer told us we’d get our long hair caught in the grain auger if we weren’t careful, but it never happened.”


Grain auger

 

Rocco takes this in for a minute.  “What are you proposing to pay?”

“I don’t know–five cents a mouse, maybe a dime for a chipmunk.  Quarter for a squirrel.  Lay off the birds.”

“Why?” Okie asks.

“Because it makes mom sad when you kill them.”

“So–incentive-based compensation, right?” Rocco asks slily.  I think I know where he’s going.

“That’s right.  And I don’t care if you freelance around the neighborhood on your days off.”

“Do I have to share with slow-poke over there?” Rocco asks, tilting his head towards the old man.


“Why can’t the mice come to me?”

 

“Nope.  As we say in business, using a metaphor drawn from the animal kingdom, ‘You eat what you kill.’”

Suddenly Rocco’s apathy is gone.  “I’m in,” he says.

“Wait,” Okie says, starting to realize that his glide path to retirement will be a little longer than he thought.  “Can I . . . like . . . tag along with Rocco?”

“If you mean sloppy seconds, the answer is no,” Rocco says.  “Find your own goddamn mice.”

“Guys–let’s not let compensation tear the firm apart,” I say, pouring oil on turbulent waters.

“Wonder where you got that line,” Rocco says as he heads for the door.  “Let me out–I’m going prospepecting.”


Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

The Country Mouse and the City Mouse

Once there was a country mouse who grew tired of the limited amusements available in his provincial town. He called up his cousin who lived in a luxury condo in the city.

“Put the sheets on the hide-a-bed cause I’m busting out of this burg,” said the country mouse.

“You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into,” said his cousin.

“So much of your so-called sophistication is but a mere gossamer,” said the country mouse, rising to the level of platitudes. “What I don’t know won’t hurt me,” repeating something he had heard in another context.

“But what will you do for cheese?” asked the city mouse.

“I can get by on barley and corn,” said the country mouse.

“Oh God,” groaned his cousin.

When the country mouse arrived at his cousin’s place, he suggested that they see the sights.

“I was going to catch up on my reading,” said the city mouse, “but don’t let me spoil your fun.”

“Wouldn’t think of it,” said the country mouse.

“Ciao,” said the city mouse.

“No thanks, I’ll eat later.”

The country mouse hailed a cab and asked how much a ride to The Stork Club would cost.

“About five bucks,” said the cabbie, “not including gratuity.”

“Nice night for a walk,” said the country mouse.

Some time later the country mouse arrived at The Stork Club. “Gimme a table near the band,” he said.

“Do you have a reservation?” asked the stork d’hotel.

“Where I come from you don’t need one,” said the mouse.

“There will be a table available in about an hour, and the cover charge is $20,” said the stork, eyeing the mouse doubtfully.

“Forget it,” said the mouse, affecting an air of importance. “I’m a busy mouse.”

The country mouse checked his wallet and decided that his conquest of the city would have to wait until he had a little more walking-around money. “When I do things I do ’em right,” he said to himself. “I travel first-class and I bring my own carfare. I will soon have this city by the tail, if not the whiskers,” and with that he vowed to live frugally, save his money and rise slowly but relentlessly to the top.

On his way back to his cousin’s place the country mouse took an express train that deposited him in a strange neighborhood, where he was set upon by cats who cleaned him out.

Moral: Sophistication is a vain and empty thing, whose value is not appreciated.

 

Business Groups Balk at “Take Your Cat to Work Day”

CHICAGO. First, notes human resources manager Dale Cloymore, there was “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day,” a well-intentioned effort to show young girls there were future opportunities for them outside the home. “Then the fathers of boys got involved,” he recalls, “saying they didn’t want their sons to grow up to be kept men.”


“Great–I’ll put you down for 100 cases of left-handed skyhooks!”

 

Childless dog-owners were next, saying their inability to have children or their choice not to shouldn’t be held against them. “That was easy–everybody likes dogs,” Cloymore says, “but Bring Your Cat to Work Day is an event we won’t be repeating.”

Bring Your Kid to Work Day was last Thursday and Bring Your Cat to Work Day the day after, but many businesses are still recovering from damage inflicted on furniture and employee morale during what appears will be a short-lived experiment in cat-human relations. “People lose sight of the fact that we’re here to make a profit for our shareholders,” notes Al Klemencz, Chief Operating Officer at Vortices Plastics in suburban Oak Park, “not entertain cats with laser pointers.”

The trouble started for Cloymore when Lisbeth Markwart’s cat “Pookie” was found sleeping atop a printer that was needed to send out a letter to cancel an order. “Don’t get me wrong, I love Lisbeth,” he says, then quickly adds “in a professional workplace phony-smile-in-the-hall kind of way. But she just stood there going ‘Is Ookie Pookie cozy on the nice warm HP 3460?’ Now I’m stuck with 200 metric tons of modeling clay.”


“No one will ever notice!”

 

At Allen, Wembley & Dawson, a downtown law firm that represents the commodities industry, the founding partner’s pride and joy is an antique Persian Shiraz rug that has graced the reception area for fifty years. “That was one of my grandfather’s first fees,” says Clay Wembley III, choking back tears as he views a pile of vomit in which dry cat food is mixed with an oak leaf. “I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to grandmother.”

And at Vortices, a maintenance worker climbs a stepladder in an attempt to lure Kitsy, a spry one-year-old cat, out of the top of a potted Sago Palm tree as her owner, receptionist Melinda Barker stands by. “You don’t know what she means to me,” Barker sobs into a tissue. “She’s all I’ve got since my husband Duane ran off with the babysitter.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”

Happy Belated Hairball Awareness Day

A chilly, sunny April Saturday. There’s just me and two cats, Rocco and Okie, three sullen males grunting their way through the day–as usual–while the wife’s running errands.


Rocco: “You insensitive clod!”

 

And yet something’s–not quite right. Okie, the elder cat, seems–distrait. Taciturn. Phlegmatic. And those are just leftover vocab words from my son’s senior English class.


“Just leave me alone–okay?”

 

He sits on a windowsill, staring off into the middle distance, as if he’s depressed. He’s indifferent to my attentions, or perhaps I should say more indifferent that he–or any other cat–is normally. Rocco’s outside rolling in the dirt, so I amble up to him for a sidebar.

“Nice day, huh?” I say.

“Yeah. I’m going to hassle those stupid long-haired chihuahuas next door.”

“Okay, but get that out of your system early–I want to take a nap this afternoon. Hey–have you noticed anything funny about Okie?”


“Yip, yip, yip!”

 

“Funny strange, or funny ha-ha?”

“Strange. He seems somewhat–distant today.”

Rocco looks at me with a pitiless expression and shakes his head. “You are so freaking clueless.”

“What?”

He takes a second to scratch for a tick under his chin. “It’s all about you–isn’t it? You sit there at your computer all day in your own little world. Never thinking about anybody else.”

“Hey–if I don’t sit at my computer all day, you don’t get any Iams Low Fat Weight Control Dry Cat Food.”

“Oh, whoop-de-do! That stuff’s so bad I’d rather eat the bag.”

“You’ll thank me in a couple of years when every other cat in the neighborhood has a gut that’s dusting the floor. But seriously–is something the matter with him?”

“Don’t you know what yesterday was?”


St. Swithin: Peace out, dawg.

 

I search my memory. Not Arbor Day. Not my elder sister’s birthday. St. Swithin’s Day? Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding anniversary? “I give up–what?”

Rocco closes his eyes, as if he can’t believe how stupid I am. “It was Hairball Awareness Day, you mook!”

I’m confused. “Okie’s a short-hair. Why would he get emotional about hairballs?”

“You are such an insensitive clod,” Rocco says, licking his white ruff. “Hairballs can strike any cat, at any time–long or short-hair.”

“I didn’t know. We get so many solicitations at work. United Fund. All kinds of diseases. You don’t expect me to keep up with all of them, do you?”


National Hairball Awareness Poster Child

 

“Look–just because there’s no washed-up comedian doing a telethon for Hairball Awareness doesn’t mean you can completely ignore a cause that means so much to someone right in your own home!”


“Ack-ack-ack–it’s the sound of a hairball attack!”

 

“But I don’t . . .”

Rocco cuts me off. “Okie’s mom died of a hairball.”

Okay. ‘Nuf said. I “get it.” “Jeez–I didn’t realize.”

“You should go talk to him. Maybe buy a bracelet, or at least a ribbon.”

I take out my wallet. I’ve got four ones and a twenty. Stupid cat won’t know the difference.

“And don’t try to stiff him like you do the mini-mites hockey kids who accost you at the stoplights with their coffee cans.”


“You cheap bastard–giving a kid a cents-off coupon for a granola bar!”

 

“You’re right. I’ll go talk to him.” I go back in the house and Okie’s still sitting where he was when I left, his chin on his paws.

“Hey Oke,” I say, “I’m . . . uh . . . sorry I forgot about Hairball Awareness Day.”

He looks up at me without anger. “That’s okay,” he says. “Who was it that said the universe was indifferent to our suffering?”


Camus: 1951 Existentialist Rookie of the Year.

 

“I don’t know. Either Albert Camus–or Yogi Berra.”

He lets out a short little sigh. “I think of the poem by Auden . . .”

“Musee des Beaux Arts?”


Auden: “At least this post has a smoking section.”

 

“Right. How suffering takes place while someone else is eating or opening a window . . . “

” . . . or just walking dully along?” I say, finishing the line for him. Nothing like the consolations of art–their purgative powers–to help one get over sadness.

“I tell you what,” I say. “I’ve got $24–I’m going to make a contribution in your mother’s name to the National Hairball Foundation.”

His eyes mist over–or at least I think they do. “Save your money,” he says.

“But I want to.”

“No–you’re going to need it.”

“Why?” I ask.

“For some Resolve Multi-Surface Fabric Cleaner. I upchucked a hairball on the dining room rug.”

Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Cats Say the Darndest Things.”