Tag Archives: cats

Lame Adventure 449: It’s the Most Familiar Time of the Year

New Year's Day hangover balloons.

New Year’s Day hangover balloons.

Sixteen hours into January 1, 2015, my holiday season officially entered the ether and the most familiar time of the year resumed. This happened when I encountered my first asshat of the New Year: a chap about my age at my go-to supermarket, Fairway. Fairway is a place where, a few years earlier on another New Year’s Day, the toes of my right foot were nearly severed by a girl not much taller than a walking stick burning rubber on a scooter in the produce section. Apparently, that moppet, with parental approval, was training to compete in the Dakar Rally via the broccoli bin. My market could serve double duty all year round as the Asshat Convention Center of America, or ACCA for short.

Fast forward to the ACCA around 4pm on New Year’s Day 2015. I am patiently waiting my turn in a cue of fellow shoppers to grab a hand basket. The man in front of me takes his hand basket that contains some detritus left behind by previous users of that basket. There is a trashcan nearby at the store’s entrance, but Mr. Asshat upends the trash from his basket into mine.

Me: Was that necessary?

Mr. Asshat looks back at me and cringes, possibly flashbacking on his nagging mother. I swipe out the detritus and dump it in the trashcan he chose to ignore. Sufficiently humiliated, he mumbles an apology before scampering down an aisle in a failed effort to turn invisible. But, I appreciated his civility, unlike the last asshat I encountered in the Old Year: a woman half my age reeking attitude.

She crossed my path on another reliable source of suffering: the New York City subway system. This episode in the series, Meet the Asshat, occurred on my second-to-last train ride before embarking on a two-week hiatus from The Grind.

Ms. Asshat was sitting on the crowded 1 local during the morning rush hour with her legs crossed, determined to give anyone near her the boot.

Shin kicker's boot.

Shin kicker’s boot.

Unlike Mr. Asshat in Fairway, my subway riding survival instinct warned that this was a Code Red Asshat, i.e., someone with the potential to detonate. Don’t provoke her. I got lucky and scored a seat allowing me to escape her foot follies. Everyone else near her came close to getting it in the shin. Her nasty expression screamed f-bomb. Fellow riders shared my cautious vibe and were mute around this volatile asshat. There are times when New Yorkers know to zip the lip.

Days later, I was in mellow mode visiting kith and kin in the San Francisco Bay Area. While in Sausalito with my best friend from college, BatPat, we strolled through a neighborhood of storybook-style houseboats docked on calm waters.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Many of these whimsical vessels belong to artists and writers.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

I flashed on ditching the steady stream of petty irritations that are such a key ingredient in big city life in exchange for the tranquility of a floating nest and the camaraderie of courteous neighbors with cool cats.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Bow's super cool houseboat home.

Bow’s super cool houseboat home.

But whom am I kidding? Within a month, or an hour, my blunt force trauma temperament would surface and I could be the resident asshat in Shangri-la.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

I am allergic to cats, I can’t swim and my astrological sign should be Seasick. I can do mellow by the shot glass, but my personality is frantic by the barrel.

Cool in principle but not for me.

The Neversail Ark: cool in principle but not for me.

Shortly after I returned from my California getaway, I was briskly walking down my block on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was five in the afternoon, a time of day that looks exactly like ten at night in winter, when I found myself doing a double take on what else? A sweating package identified as fresh chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

I don’t know what gave me the willies more: knowing that I reside in close proximity to a New York City asshat who re-gifts fowl, or later that evening, when I went out again and saw that there had been a taker. A few years ago, New York City was besieged with a bedbug epidemic. Have we graduated to salmonella sharing in 2015? Meanwhile, a New Year has dawned once again replete with a new crop of New York City asshats. The time of the year may no longer be the most wonderful, but it is certainly back to being the most familiar.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

Lame Adventure 384: For the Love of Cats

Even though I am a committed dog person who is deathly allergic to cats, I now have two critters of the feline persuasion prominently in my life over here on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Pictured below is the sister act, Primo on the right, and her sibling, Segundo, on the left. It is evident that they both share my zest for sleeping.

Do not disturb.

Do not disturb.

Their slave had committed the unthinkable: she had taken a two-day getaway to the Newport Folk Festival.

Beth Orton playing at Newport.

Beth Orton playing at Newport.

As someone well versed in giving the illusion of being a few I.Q. points higher than a Bonsai tree, that attribute convinced their serf to appoint me designated cat-sitter. I was paid handsomely with air conditioning and permission to eat all the fake-ice-cream-chocolate-almond-bon-bons from Whole Foods sitting in the freezer. There were two pints in there along with a neatly folded frozen bib inscribed with my favorite philosophical quotation, “Batteries included.” In response, I took my Cat Patrol duties seriously and ensured that the kitties were fed, watered, and only partially neglected. I even coaxed Segundo, who briefly threatened suicide, off a ledge.

"Goodbye cruel world!"

“Goodbye cruel world!”

Me: Hey! You! Get down from there! You’re gonna scratch the thing up!

At last, those seven years I spent minoring in Animal Whispering at NYU(seless) had paid a dividend. Call me an egotist, but whenever possible, I seize the opportunity to flaunt my vocabulary of 309 words starting with “a” and ending, obviously, with “zither”.

I was spared the responsibility of performing litter box janitorial service, but I was in the know about where to find the cleaning supplies should someone dribble fluids or leave a deposit in the middle of the living room floor. Those accidents did not happen.

Primo-approved reading material (not pushed out).

Primo-approved reading material (a partial accident).

By the second day of their servant’s respite I sensed that both varmints were feeling bereft. I, too, was suffering a degree of heaviness triggered by either their enabler’s absence, or more likely, having consumed both pints of fake-ice-cream-chocolate-almond-bon-bons that had settled like an immovable lump the size of Rhode Island in the ever expanding pit of my being.

Overseeing two melancholy cats did posit an emotional challenge. I took it upon myself to orchestrate some spirit lifting in the guise of exercise, so I threw a tennis ball around the living room expecting them to watch me chase it. But, the game they excelled at had a cerebral slant: Watch Me Ignore You.

"Yes, I am ignoring you and I win!"

“Yes, I am ignoring you. I’m also winning.”

It dawned on me that what they craved most was simple contact: a belly rub and being petted on that sweet spot around the ears — coincidentally my favorite acts of foreplay especially when slathered in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! As mentioned earlier, I am deathly allergic to the kitties so this presented a conflict. They were in dire need of being stroked as I was in dire need of being able to breath — preferably through the nose without the assistance of an oxygen mask to alleviate my wall-rattling wheezing. This wheezing always happens whenever I pet cats for inevitably I will touch my face prompting a transformation that rivals that of the Wolfman but with “why-me?” whining replacing full moon howling.

Both Primo and Segundo took turns nudging my elbows with their heads, their way of urging me to take action. As someone who does not have an iota of Cirque du Soleil flexibility, there was no way I would ever be able to rub my eyes with my elbows so this seemed like a compromise solution bordering on genius.

"Something that works for all of us? That's an eye opener!"

“I’ll always be smarter than you.”

Unfortunately, elbows lack the dexterity of digits. The best belly rubs are not done with hinge joints, even hinge joints that strike a delicate balance between rubbery smooth and switchblade sharp. So, I threw caution to the air conditioning and substantially petted everyone everywhere. All three of us purred contentedly. Then, I hacked a hairball and washed my hands up to my elbows so vigorously, I left two layers of skin and what was once my watch floating in the sink … But I was still able to breath freely.

"Glad you survived us. Now we've got sleep to do."

“Glad you survived us. Now back to regularly scheduled sleeping.”

Lame Adventure 124: Cat Lapping

The Science section of The New York Times has published a story about how cats lap water.

Another mystery solved.

The Times online has also embedded a four minute forty-five second video illustrating “the biomechanics of feline water uptake.”  Translation: see for yourself in slow motion how Cutta Cutta, an M.I.T. engineer’s pet cat, drinks.  While this engineer was having breakfast, he was observing Cutta Cutta lap.  Instead of investing his vast intellect in the direction of global warming, our dependence on fossil fuels, or the rapidity of college student alcohol intake, he focused his attention on his cat delicately darting its tongue into its water bowl at lightening speed.  This seemingly ordinary act of feline nature fired this engineer’s imagination, as well as that of an M.I.T. colleague, and two other engineers, one from Princeton, and the other from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

I have deduced that these four brilliant men of science had an immense amount of time on their hands, and were also under pressure to look busy.  I have experienced a similar situation in my own place of employ, where I oversee the labeling of floor tile.  When there is a lull in my workload, I exploit this opportunity to clean my desk, an act I have performed precisely once in six years much to the astonishment of my boss and colleagues who initially assumed that I was preparing to give notice.  Returning to the topic of the study of cat lapping I suspect this research would have gone in an entirely different direction had that engineer been focused on Cutta Cutta making use of the litter box.

Although I am personally a dog person by default, being deathly allergic to cats, I do have a soft spot for Maru, the superstar box jumping cat from Japan.  While watching the video below, I noticed that I sneezed.

After detailing precisely how a cat laps, the rate of lapping, and the amount of liquid consumed, the Times notes, “To the scientific mind, the next obvious question is whether bigger cats should lap at different speeds.”  To my unscientific mind, the more obvious follow-up question is, “Who the hell cares?”   Why four engineers from some of the brainiest think tanks out there would be prompted to study a cat tonguing a dish of milk baffles me, unless this is just to prove that they’re worthy of collecting a paycheck.  How does knowing how a cat laps, whether it’s my boss’s two calicos, or Leo the MGM lion, or Cutta Cutta, make this world a better place?  Considering that some of our greatest minds are investing their time studying the mechanics of how cats drink assures me that the world is definitely going to the dogs.

We're here!

Lame Adventure 14: Sick and Sick of Snow

For the past eight days I have been suffering a common cold.  Therefore, I have been feeling rather lackluster.  At first, I was in denial of the obvious that I was falling ill.  The first signs of my oncoming illness were nasal congestion and sneezing, that I initially experienced in a screening room last week.  I assumed that I was sitting near someone with a cat, since I am deathly allergic to kitties, and this is a normal reaction I have to cat people.  My brother, Axel, is a bonafide cat-man. Whenever I’m in his presence, I sneeze frequently.  Oddly, though, when Lola and I saw the play Grey Gardens at the Walter Kerr Theater three years ago, I had a sneezing fit when several cats were projected on a screen at the rear of the stage.  Lola handled my distress with her usual compassion.  She bellowed in a loud whisper, “You’re looking at pictures of cats!  Stop sneezing!”


What I have now is definitely a cold for I am in my very own no cat zone sanctum sanctorum sneezing thunderously as snow falls at a steady clip outside my window.  This has been a very snow-packed winter.  It is definitely not one of those years where we’ve only had a pathetic dusting and we’re all saying knowledgably to one another, “Global warming.”  As I look out my window, I’m seeing vivid proof of global cooling, as well as major roof shoveling.  Mounds of snow are flying off my roof and landing with loud thuds.  One of the guys who maintains my building is shoveling snow off the roof, proving that there are worse jobs out there than being the sap who cleans out the Ricola horn.

Ugh job.

My friend, Roz, who has just recovered from a cold, emails me: try a neti pot – i hear they are great.  i have one but have never used it.

I email her back: They make me nervous. I fear all the crap I’ll try to flush out will somehow slide down my throat instead of out the other nostril and I’ll gag endlessly.

Roz responds: I understand about the neti pot – I bought it 2 years ago and have been afraid to use it.  I take it out and look at it periodically.  I took it out this morning and put it on the counter.  It’s still in its box, though.

The superhero in me is now challenged.

I am on a mission to conquer the neti pot, but first I have to figure out where to get one.  Roz lives in New Jersey, so she either got hers there or maybe ordered it on line.  I want an immediate neti pot.  I approach Elsbeth, my boss, who is sitting at her desk eating a salad.

Me:  Hey Elsbeth, do you know anything about where to get a neti pot?

Elsbeth puts down her fork, rises from her chair, digs into her massive satchel, removes an 800 page manual on neti pots, and hands it to me.

Elsbeth:  You can get one at Rite-Aid.

Since we have a Duane Reade down the block from our office, I decide to try there first.  I make a beeline to the blow-hole section of the store, snag the cheaper Duane Reade brand neti pot, and hightail it back to work.  As much as I would like to resume breathing at my earliest convenience, I refrain from trying out my neti pot in the Tile department restroom.  I wait until I am in the privacy of my own abode where I can indulge in obnoxiously disgusting behavior guilt-free.

I read the neti pot instructions three times.  It is recommended starting with a half bag of solution mixed in warm water.  My proboscis is the most D cup aspect of my person, and it occurs to me that I probably require two bags of solution per nostril.  Therefore, I commence with one bag.  It might be more to my benefit to use a neti kettle, but for now this appears to be a one size fits all noses product.

I diligently prepare the solution per directions, and insert the spout into my right nostril, tilt my head accordingly, and as I wait for something to happen, on cue, I sneeze voluminously and the sink, mirror and me are all immersed in neti pot solution.

I change my shirt, dry off my bathroom, and mix a second pot of solution, when the phone rings.  The caller is my friend, Rhonda, who asks, “How are you feeling?”  I tell her I don’t have time to talk, but we’re on the phone for half an hour.

For a third time, I mix a pot of solution, insert the spout into my right nostril, tilt my head, and fluid starts raining out of my face.  Finally, neti pot success!  I then repeat the process with my left nostril, and encounter a second victorious deployment.  I can shout from my snow-cleared rooftop that I have conquered the neti pot. I can email my friends and family about this achievement. I can even blog about it lamely since my imagination is essentially in mothballs right now.

Only drawback to trendy nasal irrigation, it’s not very magical, and I do not feel much different.