The Girl’s Alright

December 18, 2012 § Leave a comment


Mouchette doesn’t have cancer. “Break out the champagne,” said Dr. Haddock. We didn’t, but had a happy evening anyway.

That was a few days ago. I’ve been dealing with Christmas presents while doing my best to forget that Christmas exists. Never mind why: it’s okay. I just want to get some work done, take a lot of walks and maybe see a movie.

These days, I routinely enter sweepstakes—I know the odds, but at least they’re free, and I wouldn’t mind a trip somewhere or a hunk of cash—and came across this:

Prepper Podcast—Post Election Gun Giveaway–new
That’s right Prepper, you can win a .45 caliber handgun from the Prepper Podcast Radio Network! This gun is the three things you never want to meet in a dark alley: Big, Ugly, and Heavy. Made here in the United States, it’s so rugged, if you run out of bullets and you have to beat the bad guy into submission, they will replace it for free if his thick skull damages the gun. FREE! And this warranty is transferable to the next owner.

Oh, America. When will you grow up? We love our children. At the Cathedral today, as I was leaving the Christmas party, I held the door for 12 or 14 choristers on their way to music practice–so many bright, smooth faces; soft, nimble bodies in sweatshirts and jeans. They looked like fresh air and spring branches, waves in sunlight, like the dense loam of the earth. People, but touched with everything that lives, blossoms, sustains, abides.


Miss Pussy

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

My friend Meg was going to name the imaginary cat-mascot in her new cat/writer blog the name I came up with: Miss Pussy. Instead she chose Moon Pie, from the novel In Country, by Bobbie Ann Mason, when Bobbie Ann Mason suggested it. When your favorite writer offers a character from a favorite book, what can you do but sigh in delirious gratitude? So I’m stuck with Miss Pussy, who now has no home, but has slid a delicate gray paw into the world. Her claws are sharp and glitter in the lamp light. She is not pleased at being summoned into existence only to find herself unwanted.

“It’s not you,” I say. “It’s them.”

She tilts her head, regarding me from eyes that are closed but for a seam of fire. “Tell me. Am I a lady or a whore?”

“Where did you hear about such things, Miss Pussy? You’re barely born.”

She yawns, the pink ribs of her mouth so tempting—the white teeth so alarming. The yawn lasts a very long time. “The point of being an imaginary creature is that I am complete from the start.”

“You’re not complete. I have only a fleeting sense of you.” I can’t see her hindquarters or her tail.

“You haven’t decided whether I’m a girl’s school headmistress or a brothel madam catering to imaginary beings.”

“If you mean fictional characters, there’s no need. They fuck each other all the time.” And the writer, alone at her desk, compels each fornication. She can’t stop even if she wants to.

“You forget the minor characters. Everyone does. The nosy upstairs neighbor, the woman in the flower shop, the second cousin. They’re fully alive but without obstacle or climax. What would you do in that situation?”

As if she doesn’t know. “So you are a madam.”

“I am Miss Pussy. I provide feline services for deserving writers, in their heads.”

“In their dreams?’

“In their heads. I lick their brains.”

“That sounds unsanitary.”

“You haven’t seen my tongue.”


“It’s starlight and sandpaper, exactly the temperature of water when you’re trying to decide if the heat is running out or coming back.” Her whiskers twitch with satisfaction.

I don’t know why, but this exposes the weak place in me, where only paper keeps out the cold and the dark. “I think not, Miss Pussy. You sound like me when I’m trying too hard. Goodbye.”

It’s so easy to kill them. I make them; I kill them. Sometimes I only make them partially and leave them like that for years. It’s debilitating, knowing they’re all waiting, mute, without their final pieces, accusing: why don’t you love me anymore?

Come back, Miss Pussy. I didn’t mean to kill you.

But the one who comes through is not her. It’s the man whose wife put a voodoo doll of me in the freezer. Maybe if he hadn’t told me that—they say voodoo works by the power of suggestion. Or maybe if I knew what he did with it, if he deconsecrated it or just stuffed it the trash….

Someone picked it out of the bin, a street person. I can’t tell if it’s a woman or a man. He/she keeps it with him/her, telling it all the things nobody ever wants to hear. The doll is like a woman with advanced Lou Gehrig’s disease, that last moment when nothing can move but the brain hasn’t stopped yet. She’s been burned by the crack pipe. She’s been gnawed by rats. She’ll last a long time, unless she’s dropped under a subway train.

“Miss Pussy? Can you talk to the other imaginary ones? There’s a kind of shapeless doll-margaret-like thing…”

She sits on my chest. “Describe ME.”

Miss Pussy, lithe and smoke gray, has silky hair that never mats, and seven toes on each paw. She’s got the face of an Egyptian goddess: a narrow chin, slim black nose and whiskers as strong as piano wire. And her eyes—

Oh, Christ. Fitzroy’s got his teeth in the back of Mouchette’s neck again; he’s pinning her down. It’s all my fault, letting the demons out…I have to go….


He’s not in the apartment. Perhaps he’s left me for a woman shaped like a guitar, without a head. It would be no more than I deserve. But he said just yesterday that he’s happier than he’s ever been. What a peculiar world.

There he is, in the hall by the elevator, patting Lola who appears to be having an orgasm on the carpet.

Missy Pussy, we need a governess.

She’s disappeared, all but the whiskers. You run into those in the dark, you could cut your throat.


From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were–I have not seen
As others saw–I could not bring
My passions from a common spring–
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow–I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone–
And all I lov’d–I lov’d alone–
Then–in my childhood–in the dawn
Of a most stormy life–was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still–
From the torrent, or the fountain–
From the red cliff of the mountain–
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold–
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by–
From the thunder, and the storm–
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

–Edgar Allen Poe

More About the Cat

April 26, 2009 § 3 Comments

catback1Charles has been weaning Fitzroy off dry food (all the vets, including my sister, say it’s not good for cats) by hand feeding him tidbits of bluefish, chicken and liver. The cat is indisposed to eat real food but when it’s minced very small and squashed onto the end of Charles’s finger, it becomes acceptable. I’ve always felt sentimental about those stories of nursing orphaned chimps with fingers soaked in milk, saving the tiny creature’s flickering life, but my cat is 1 year old and strong enough to run like a wild thing around the apartment at 3 a.m., rip the leather off the couch, then sprawl like a melting butterscotch sundae on my bed; he doesn’t need hand-feeding.

On the other paw, Charles thought I was joking when I suggested raising goldfish in the kitty fountain and letting him catch his own dinner. OK, maybe I was joking, but not entirely. The fountain isn’t big enough to sustain a cat’s nutritional needs and he probably wouldn’t eat them anyway, just bat them out of water and leave them to rot under the bookshelf just as my stepson used to do with his lunch 30 years ago. But if I had more room…

Yesterday, Charles had a long argument with the lady in the pet shop about whether it was wise to take the cat on a leash to the park. I’m not in favor because I don’t think it would be sufficient: cats like to roam free, not sniff grass with a doting owner and a crowd of strangers commenting on their every move.

Still, just because I don’t want to do it myself doesn’t mean I think it would do any harm. The lady kept saying things like, “My 3 year old nephew wants to stay up all night watching horror movies; that doesn’t mean I let him.” Do 3 year olds really want to watch horror movies? The ones I’ve known didn’t clamor for that until they were 6 or 7. Eventually, they become able to spend entire weekends watching slasher flicks and Euro porn while drinking beer and tequila shots, if they so choose. When they’re the age-equivalent of a 1-year-old cat, I mean.

I hate it that domesticated animals can’t have lives of their own. Farm animals should know the pleasures of sunshine, wind, grass, mating, and breaking out of the pasture or pen once in a while; pets should have unsupervised hours. In the 1970’s, my mother’s dog Morgan used to wander every morning up to the grand seaside hotel in our New Hampshire country neighborhood and walk through the lobby greeting staff and visitors like the resident dignitary he was. 10 years before that, my cat Ricky ran away from the nice couple my mother gave him to when she moved us from the suburbs to Manhattan. He lived alone in the woods for a couple of years—mourning his lost harem of 3 female cats and me, or so I believed—and I respected him greatly for his self-sufficiency.

I’ll never get a chance to respect Fitzroy. He’s my pet, my comfort, my ward. And Charles, frustrated grandfather whose grandchildren all live too far away, is happy to spend hours feeding him from fishy fingers even as he refers to him as Little Lord Fauntleroy.



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