In the Middle of the Journey of his Life

April 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

FITZROY_0014The cat is having a midlife crisis. He is almost fifty, in human years, and he’s getting that bitter, is this all there is, what about me, huh? This is my only fucking life attitude I remember from before I embraced the annihilation of all my dreams and shot desire through the heart.

He’s in the bad place and he wants us there with him. So it’s meow, meow, meow from 10 pm until one of us wakes up the next morning. Meow while Charles, Mouchette and I watch Nurse Jackie, Cat TV (birds) and the beginnings of movies Charles is interested in that I respond to nastily: “I don’t want to watch a movie about old men. Not even with Al Pacino.”

My husband takes no offense. We have the tolerance/forgiveness thing down pat. You might say we find our flaws the best joke of all.


He wants to go out in the hall. He wants more food. He wants to be picked up and baby-talked to.

MEOW, he says, meaning FUCK YOU.


He wants me to go in the hall with him and I give in. He trots at my heels, his claws making little clicks as he lifts them off the carpet. He sniffs under every other door. He’s looking for a way out, and I tell him that’s the feline/human condition. Then I soften.

“Honey, we should buy a country house in Connecticut for the cats.”

“Not for that little bastard.”

“But Mouchette. Look at her! She wants birds.”

“She has birds right here.”

“She wants real birds.”
“No, she digs it, look at her.”

She’s on top of the TV, trying to find out where the birds on the screen are coming from. She walks over the manual switch and turns off the set.

“Postmodern hunting,” I say.
Fitzroy meows in rage that we’re talking about Mouchette.

He meows at four a.m. He meows until I get out of bed. He purrs when I hold him in my arms, and rub my face on his face. He has no idea that love can die, that women have breaking points, that life is the nightmare of a psychopathic god. He reminds me of me and I have to stop for a minute, recall that he is not in fact my child, that the 24-hour labor I remember so vividly, the doctor horrified at the furry monstrous kitten that came out clawing is only the sort of symptom writers get when they don’t write.

To A Cat

Cat! who has pass’d thy grand climacteric,
How many mice and rats hast in thy days
Destroy’d? How many tit-bits stolen? Gaze
With those bright languid segments green, and
Those velvet ears – but prythee do not stick
Thy latent talons in me – and tell me all thy frays,
Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick;
Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists, –
For all the wheezy asthma – and for all
Thy tail’s tip is nick’d off – and though the fists
Of many a maid have given thee many a maul,
Still is thy fur as when the lists
In youth thou enter’dst on glass-bottled wall.

John Keats


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