“Weird Scenes Inside the Litter Box”

–10/13/07–Well, I’ve written at length about my state of mental health, but my physical health isn’t much better. I’ve had chest congestion and a racking cough for the better part of a week. An allergic reaction to cat dander? Perhaps.

Thursday night I had to prop my head and torso up in bed so the crap could slide back down my throat and I could stop coughing long enough to get to sleep. I went to work Friday even though I felt terrible, took some Musinex (which I keep calling “Mucasil” for some reason), and still hacked all day. Friday night/Saturday morning I was coughing until 3:30am, when I got up, left a message on my shop’s answering machine that I would not be in, took some more Musinex, as well as one a Vistaril, and slept like a bastard. (Vistaril is the latest anxiety med they put me on at the “nervish clinic;” I took some Tuesday night and it knocked me out so much I called in sick Wednesday as well, and was out cold until 5:30pm. I’m supposed to get a new anxiety med this next week.)

Anyway, today, Saturday, I was up until about 5:30am, when the meds finally kicked in, and I slept off and on until about 7:30pm. I got up occasionally to piss and let the cat out of the bathroom so she could run around and stretch her legs.

I’m still coughing, especially if I have to bend over for anything. (Of course, in the world of work, you’re being bent over all day, symbolically at least, so it’s good I didn’t go in.)  

I have to keep the cat in the bathroom during the day, with the light on, while I’m at work, so she doesn’t get into anything, and at night, with the light off, so I can sleep. Otherwise she’d be knocking shit down all over the house and literally bouncing off the fucking walls.

I’m still investigating places to take this kitty, people to give her to. Cat-lover and -owner (insofar as anyone can “own” a cat) James has suggested that the most humane course of action would be to put her down, and when I said I wouldn’t go for that, he said the decision wasn’t mine to make. You would think that by now James would know better than to tell me what I can and cannot do, that trying that only forces me to act in the opposite manner….

As the days have passed (I’ve only had her a week). She has become increasingly mischievous. She’s started climbing onto and knocking over stacks of books, magazines, and newspapers. The other night she leaped onto a stack of magazines, but the force of her leap caused the top magazine to slip out from underneath her. This caused her to panic and start running faster, which made the next magazine shoot out from underneath her, and so on. It got to the point she was running in mid-air, like George Jetson on his automatic dog-walking conveyor belt….

Friday I tried to talk a co-worker into taking the kitty. This co-worker’s favorite subjects of discussion include her many cats and (for what it’s worth) her on-going menopause. She wouldn’t take the kitty, and suggested I keep her and train her. Train her?, I asked. How do you train a cat? And she said I should get a spray water bottle and  spray the cat any time she does something I don’t like or gets up onto something I don’t want her on.

Well, I have water bottles for my plants, but I’ve found spritzing that cat to be an almost full-time job. Friday night she started a major climb while I was on the phone to James. After she knocked over some magazines, she leaped onto my loftiest bookcases, which are about 6 or 6 ½  feet tall.

–Oh my God, she’s just jumped onto my tallest bookcases! She’s gonna fall back behind them and die and stink up the house!

–She’s just doing what cats do. Cats jump onto things. You can’t stop them.

–Oh shit, she just jumped onto my copy of fucking “Little Nemo” !

–You have a book called “Fucking Little Nemo”? You’re even sicker than I thought.

–No, the book is called “Little Nemo.” I used “fucking” as an intensifier.

–I don’t know….

–No, “Little Nemo.” Famous cartoon strip drawn by seminal cartoonist Winsor McKay?

–Yeah, I know who he is.

–Oh fuck, now she’s behind the collected Dickens!…Just a second….[pause] FUCKING CAT! GET DOWN!…[pause] Where was I?

–”Fucking Little Nemo?”

–DAMMIT! GET OFF THE FUCKING TV!…Fucking cat….Every other sentence I’ve said this week has been, “DAMMIT, CAT! QUIT IT!” or “DAMMIT, CAT! GET OFFA THAT!”...CUGGG!!! CUGGG!!! CACCKKKK!!!

–Damn, that’s a bad cough. You sound terrible.

–Yeah, and it was so violent a cough I just knocked a picture off the top of my computer.

And, as Linda Ellerbee said, and Kurt Vonnegut before her, so it goes.

As I’ve said, my apartment is a death trap, and she’s going to either kill herself or me at the rate she was going. The other night she climbed into the TV stand and I was afraid she’d get into the wires and shock herself. Or she could leap onto some plants, chew on them and die.

In the last few days she’s been leaping into my underwear whenever I try to take a shit, or looking over the toilet rim while I’ve pissed. If I sit at the computer in my underwear she leaps at my crotch with her claws extended.

But my clawed legs, arms, and testicles notwithstanding, the kitty’s greatest offense is that she pissed in my walk-in closet, the so-called “Fred’s Dressing Room,” where my beloved dog used to spend most of his time napping.

I’ve mentioned I always have several books going at the same time―my commuting book, my bedside book, and my toilet book. My current toilet book is “Cash.” It’s not an Anthony Robbins business motivational book, but rather Johnny Cash’s second autobiography. I read the first one, “Man in Black,” a few weeks ago in one sitting. (One of the advantages I’ve gotten from canceling my cable TV is I’ve gotten so many books read lately.)

Anyway, I was on the toilet this evening trying to read “Cash” when the cat leaped onto the sink counter and began batting at my hands and arms. I reached over to grab her and put her down onto the floor, when the toilet seat slipped, knocking me over to the left.

Did I mention my toilet seat is broken? One of the plastic things that attaches it to the bowl has broken, so often when I sit down the seat slides over and crashes down with a big thud.

So anyway I finished my business, and stripped down to take a shower. Then I noticed that the outside of the toilet needed cleaning. I don’t know when exactly I’ll call the apartment maintenance guys in to come change the toilet seat, but I don’t want them to find a dirty toilet.

And so I attempted to clean the toilet in the nude. Have you ever tried to clean the outside of a toilet thoroughly? I mean, really well? Not the inside of the bowl or the rim, but the outside, around the sides and close to the floor? Well, builders and architects usually stick toilets in narrow spaces, making the hard-to-reach places, well, hard-to-reach.

(There’s much that’s illogical about home design. Why, for example, do they insist on building counters with 4-inch indentations at the bottom where dust can gather? And why, as Andy Rooney once observed, are bathtubs designed where the drains are directly underneath the faucets? Wouldn’t tubs be easier to clean with the drains at the other end?)   

And so, there I was, naked as “September Morn,” trying to clean the hidden parts of the toilet and the warped vinyl tile surrounding it, balancing on one knee, the other leg raised like a pissing dog, one hand steadying myself against the wall as the other held a sponge (not a pretty picture, I realize), when that fucking cat leaped from behind the toilet and pounced on me.

I grabbed her, got up, and put her outside and shut the door, finished cleaning the toilet, and then showered. I daresay that was the first time I’ve ever showered in that bathroom with the door closed. One of the advantages of bachelorhood is I can leave the bathroom door open when I shower, and thus avoid steaming up the mirror.

After my shower I returned a call from James. He wanted me to correct a passage where I misquoted him in [a recent post].

–I’ve just finished your mammoth posting.

–You read all 14,000 plus word of that fucking thing?

–Well, “read” is such a strong word. I speed skimmed it.

–Well, it’s a damn shame nobody’s ever gonna read the whole thing. In amongst all the boring stuff are a lotta good lines, like when I paraphrase Henry II and ask, “Who will rid me of this troublesome pussy?” That’s a great one, if I do say so myself.

–Yeesss. You should make this your next book. Your story of your mental illness.

–Well, we’ll have to see how long my accounts of my illness run….Did I mention that I’ve gotten several inquiries lately from people who have been led to my site by links to my historical articles?

–Not lately you haven’t.

–The thing is, I’m embarrassed. These are often older readers, or so I assume, and I get embarrassed to think that they’ll see my other, more vulgar posts. You know, bitching in raw, nasty language, talking about shitting and all.

–But that’s you. That’s your style as much as the historical stuff is. And that’s what Hunter S. Thompson did. He wrote about that crazy shit using vulgar language, but he also mixed serious reporting in with that.

–True enough.

–You’ve just gotta stick to your own style and not worry what some readers might think.

–Well, a few years back, you remember I wrote an account of Gary and Heather’s engagement night, you know, at Gear’s birthday party?


–Well, apparently they really liked it. And so they sent it around to all their relatives.

–Oh shit.

–Oh shit, yeah. And I was thinking, “Oh God, there’s all sorts of dirty language in other parts of that piece….”


–And so at the wedding reception Gear’s mother called me over to her table….

–”Mister B___. I’ve read the obscene things you’ve written….”

–No, she said how much she liked it, and I was all red in the face and said I would rather she had not read all those vulgar parts, but she said, “Oh, that’s just how your generation talks.”

When you sleep under the influence of as many meds as I’ve been taking lately you get some amazing dreams. Today I had quite a few. In one I had finally concluded that my step-brother had indeed tossed all the belongings I had stored  on the property where he lives now and where I spent my wretched adolescence and was about to take my revenge, legal or otherwise.

In another I had finally taken the plunge and committed myself to the State Hospital  for a time. They had assigned me a bed, but not a room. I had a bed on a staircase landing in the creepy old Main Administration Building.

I was in bed, covers pulled up, eyes half-shut, pretending to be asleep so no one would come bother me. Fred was with me, naturally, and I had my arm around him. Doctors, nurses, and attendants were coming and going, stopping to talk, and then shift-change came, and there were people everywhere, going up and downstairs, and then an attendant came over and asked me how I was.

Maybe that’s what the afterlife is like―reunited with my beloved, but stuck in a noisy madhouse. And doesn’t a staircase landing somewhat suggest an image of Purgatory?


After that I dreamt I was watching an episode of the “Andy Griffith Show” and Andy was having psychological problems and wanted to check himself into a mental hospital for a time, but since this was the early Sixties he realized that if he went into a mental hospital and the public found out his career would be effectively over and there would be no one to support Opie and Aunt Bee, so he was secretly consulting with advisors as to what to do.

It’s 11:36pm now. I’m listening to the “Clockwork Orange” soundtrack, still coughing like a fiend, and the cat is sneering down at me from atop the Dickens, looking as imperious as Liz Taylor in that scene where she enters Rome triumphantly in “Cleopatra.”

The dynamics of our relationship remind me of that exchange in “Heathers”:

VERONICA SAWYER: “Why are you being such a bitch?”

HEATHER DUKE: Because I can be.”


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