Sunday, September 13, 2015

For the Colonel

There are advantages, he thought as the weeks went by, to not having a cat. His apartment slowly emptied itself of cat hair, whereas before cat hair floated in the air and formed itself into tumbleweeds that blew menacingly across his floor when he moved around. He brought strange men home and none of them did about-faces upon entering, or whined about their allergies in lieu of "getting down to the business between his legs." His apartment no longer smelled of urine and feces, unless his friend Dan came over. He didn’t have to worry all the time about what would happen if his cat died, this little soul he had been given to nourish, nor did he have to worry that he wasn’t playing with the damned thing enough.

As time went on, his friends, being helpful, would say “You should get another cat. Another cat would make things better.” He would smile at their good intentions, and think, things are already better. A little better, at least. Different.

It’s not like he didn’t miss the Colonel. He still expected him to scramble into his bed at night with a great and unintentionally comic effort. He still got twinges of sorrow when he looked for the cat’s food and water bowls, to see if they needed refilling. Those had been the first things he’d thrown out, and then all the toys. He still had a full bag of litter, though, lying against his bookshelf. He had a thought that he would one day fill a glass with litter and use it to hold his incense sticks as they burned. But there was less and less need for incense these days, without the cat.

He’d really only gotten the cat to prove that he could keep it alive. He’d gotten his previous cat, Laffie, from the Humane Society, and she ate barely anything for weeks. He’d called up the Humane Society, and they had assured him that this was normal. “Cats don’t eat anything until they get used to their surroundings!” they chirped merrily. He had tried out different foods to try to make his cat eat – cat food at first of course; then organic cat food; then cans of tuna fish; then, once, some crab from a sushi restaurant. Laffie just hid under the dresser. He had fractured his foot and was getting around his apartment on crutches when one day, he’d noticed Laffie lying motionless on the floor, looking at him pleadingly. He’d picked her up and her head lolled around; she had no strength to lift it. He’d rushed her on his crutches to the hospital, where they put her on life support and told him to go home. They called him later to tell him she kept dying and they kept resuscitating her. “What’s wrong with her?” he asked. “We don’t know,” they replied. “Is she in any pain?” “We don’t know.” Then they called him again and told him she’d died again. “Let her go,” he’d cried. He got stoned that night and cried so hard he thought his face would break. Later, the hospital sent him a bill for $1700 and he bitterly thought, you’re such a loser. You could only keep a cat alive for a month.

“Get another cat,” his friends had said at the time, so eventually he’d reached out to City Critters to “foster a cat.” He took the cat home and quickly learned that this cat could have taught a course on eating. A week later, City Critters called him up and told him he should just keep the cat. “Okay,” he replied. “Okay.” (He was easily manipulated).

At first, he and the Colonel sparred often. He would try to pet the cat, and the cat would scratch his hands. He often went to work those days with bloodied hands and would tell his co-workers that he and his cat had had a fight. Oh, how amusing he thought he was with those co-workers, but they just looked at him like he was a freak, just like his parents did. His cat sometimes ate meals and then immediately blew chunks on the floor, and he would look at the cat with a kind of fond pride, thinking, like father, like son. Sometimes he would come home and the cat would be walking around in his kitchen sink or atop his refrigerator, tracking its own feces across areas where he prepared his own joyless meals. His constant eating gradually rid him of his gift for high-jumping, although he couldn’t be put on a diet. The Colonel would stalk him if he didn’t have a full bowl, eventually driving him insane with constant meowing and head-butting. “Get away!” he would shriek. “Can’t you see I’m on Manhunt?!” He had a constant fantasy that he would put a fanny pack containing twenty dollars on the Colonel and let him outside to seek his own fortune wherever fate willed.

Fifteen years went by. During that time, his moods and fates swung wildly and he learned that he was bipolar. Sometimes when it was hard for him to stay alive, he would think, well, who is going to feed your cat? Other times, he would hold back from his sometime drug use for fear that if he overdosed, the Colonel would immediately eat his face. Cats are not finicky about eating the dead, he remembered grimly.

The advantages of having a dead cat continued to present themselves to him over time. A woman he met outside his friend Royal’s art opening saw his cat t-shirt and his cat tattoo and asked him if he had a cat.

“I had one,” he said. “He died a few months ago.”

“Well, now you have to get another one,” she said.

“No. There are advantages to not having a cat. The biggest one, of course, being that I don’t have to have a broken heart when it goes away.”

“Nice to meet you!” she said suddenly. “Goodbye!” He noticed suddenly that she was wearing a cap with the word “cat” on it.

At night sometimes he lay awake, thinking about his own death. He worried that he was an alien who the doctors would want to dissect upon his death, in hopes of helping medicine with what they discovered from his unnaturalness. He was often being cut open in his fantasies. His ribcage was constantly being separated and hands probed his organs (all of which were in the wrong places).

“What do you think this is?” one of the imaginary doctors said to his colleagues, holding up an object removed with a tweezer from the surface of his heart.

Of course, it was a cat hair.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jack Spade

I was wearing my new Jack Spade coat yesterday evening when I was stopped and searched by the police in the Fulton Street station of the 4, 5, and 6 trains. This isn't going where you think it's going - I actually am not sure why the police don't search me more. I feel so clandestine and cloak-and-dagger almost all of the time - surely some of that feeling must be part of my visible "look?" The officer took one look at my coat and then leapt up from his seat in a Long Island sort of way and started pointing his finger at commuters on their way to the turnstile, like "eenie, meanie, miney, mo," and I got "mo," of course. He beckoned me in a pseudo-fatherly way over to a rickety folding table while my face displayed the coil of an almost imperceptible rictus of a smile.

It is one of my worst nightmares that I'll wear some multi-colored, garish coat to work and then get fired, and have to try to hold my head up high, carrying a cardboard box of my belongings outside into the rain whilst dressed like a clown. An alternate version of this fantasy is that I'll be dressed like a clown while getting handcuffed by the police while a crowd of people gathers to watch, or while getting beaten up by some cherry-picking vagrant on the street. I used to dress like a clown all the time, but that was in the aughts, when I thought nothing of wearing avant-garde clothing to the bar, to work, wherever. Once I flew to LA wearing a see-through mesh shirt by Fendi and Alia and I lurked about Hollywood and were cold to passersby. Once I was wearing an enormous coat covered in Burberry plaid and the barkeep at the bar I was leaving said, "Girl, oh my Gawd you are leaving here alone tonight." I could only look at him sadly and think, But I am merely a harmless eccentric… Another time at a party, I coldly accused the writer Bret Easton Ellis of being a misogynist while wearing a beautiful, flowing wig I'd just purchased from Patricia Field. I peacocked long before Neil Strauss made the term fashionable in his douche-bag bible, The Game.

(Okay, I know, I know - Jack Spade is the ultimate douche-bag brand. But, grrrl, it was less than $200 on, and I MUST HAVE A NEW COAT AND A NEW SCARF EACH YEAR even when I am not sure where my next rent check is coming from. It is my biggest revenge fantasy that, when I am finally ensconced in some sort of gay rest home, I will be able to dazzle the other old queens with an endless array of beautiful coats and scarves, like Diana Ross - and have the ability to say that I have seen EVERY MADONNA CONCERT [three, albeit, via DVD only :^( ])

The po-po, of course, found nothing in my bag. I am, realistically, far past middle age, and if I were to do drugs today, I would surely just immediately turn to ash like that blonde witch in "American Horror Story: Coven" last season. Sigh. Back in the day, though, I partied like a house afire. I will cling to that Gee and keep going to work and keeping it together and doing the best I can. I will cling to the Gee who, when given a copy of the AA Daily Reflections in rehab, immediately flipped to the last page in February and informed the doctor, "But, there is no entry for February 29th." She turned pale, and I continued: "How will your precious book save you then."