Some mornings I wake and the pain is tolerable. Other days I’m flooded by overwhelming guilt.
Yesterday, I had dinner for the first time with my new girlfriend and her family. I was thoroughly enjoying myself until the family cat, Alfredo, strutted into the room. He walked confidently up to my girlfriend, wrapped his little arms around her, and poured out his affection.
“I’m so glad to see you today. I love you” he said.
My eyes filled with tears.
“What’s wrong, Collin?” My girlfriend’s father said.
“Nothing. Nothing at all” I replied, excusing myself.
I returned a few minutes later and nearly drank myself to death.
“More wine” I shouted. I was the only one drinking. “This time put vodka in it.”
Later, under the cloak of night, I confessed to my girlfriend, tears streaming down my face, that I had never heard such beautiful words spoken by a cat in my life. Why had I never received such love? Why couldn’t my cats ever express such affection? Where did I go wrong?
WHERE I WENT WRONG
It all started
with my oldest cat, Jojo. He came into my life like most kittens,
bursting with energy. Whenever the vast world before him felt imposing,
he always looked to me for guidance. Granted we only had a studio
apartment, but to him it was an endless abyss. I genuinely believed he
loved me. Oh, how wrong I was.
Every Sunday, Jojo would sit beside me on the couch and watch bass fishing. It was a ritual. A time for male bonding. Something we both enjoyed…..so I thought. Pretty soon, he was missing the show every other week and wouldn’t even apologize. I can understand if you slept late, or got stuck taking a shit in the cat box, but be a man and apologize.
Then one day, bass fishing was
interrupted by a high-speed pursuit. I flipped off the television and
went into the kitchen for a bite. That’s when I saw it: Jojo, at my
laptop, watching a biography on Judy Garland. He saw me and immediately
closed the computer.
“What in the hell was that?” I said sternly.
“Nothing” he said.
I must have stared at him for an hour. “You got something to tell me, boy?”
He took a deep breath. “I’m gay.”
“What the hell does that mean?” I said.
He explained to me that he liked other male cats, as more than a friend, and had for quite some time.
“Maybe it’s his food” I thought.
I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought something organic, but nothing worked. He purged his meals in protest.
“Are you mad at me?” he said.
“Well, no, I suppose not. I mean, I guess I’m not. No, not really. Well, kinda.”
So we agreed to disagree. To be honest, I didn’t get it. What would my friends think? As he grew older, we spent less time together. We rarely even talked.
After a year,
Jojo brought his “friend,” Howard, home to stay. Howard’s a real prick.
He made his first impression like a glorified debutant, so worldly.
Talked about rare cheeses and potted meats. What a jerk. He knew this
wasn’t easy for me and rubbed my nose in it. He was all over Jojo, all
the time. My apartment was like the back row of a movie theater.
“What is this, ancient Rome?” I said, after catching them necking in MY bed.
“We’re here, ole’ man. Deal with it.” Howard said, not even blinking.
My disapproval of Howard only made Jojo more
insecure. It’s no wonder after they began dating Jojo started gaining
weight. He would binge eat, then purge all over my hardwood floors. He
found his solace at the bottom of a dish and he blamed me.
One day I made a passing comment about his weight while he was eating.
“I could make lamp oil off the fat in your ass” I said, under my breath.
“What did you say?” he snapped back.
“Nothing.” I said.
His glare just about burned a hole in my head.
“I hate you!” He shouted as he tossed his dish against the wall.
Only later did I really understand the true impact of my words.
Late one night, I awoke to the sound of a rustle coming from the kitchen. I followed the noise to the darkness under my desk. I crouched and crept, and as I peered into the black I finally saw it: Howard, dressed in a black robe, rustling a plastic bag. We locked eyes for a moment then he shouted “NOW!”
I turned my head to find Jojo bum-rushing me. In his hand, a shiv fashioned from part of his chew toy. I blocked his attack, but was pinned under his massive weight.
“You never loved me!” he shouted.
“I just want my boy back!” I gasped.
With my arms pinned, Howard attempted to strangle me with the plastic bag.
“You’re gonna die, Ole’ man. We‘re gonna make you bleed.”
“See you in Hell” I said.
Just as Howard positioned the bag over my face, I head butted the son-of-a-bitch. He pussed back in pain. I shook the bag off my head and looked deep into Jojo’s eyes. Jojo, dropped his shiv, let go of my arms, and broke down crying.
As he slowly groveled away from me, I wanted so badly to hold him. I sat up and carefully put my arm around his fat body. He quickly ran into the dark and cried alone.
I turned to Howard. “You ever come at me with a bag again, I’ll cut you down, boy. You hear me?”
He just glared and held his paw to his head. I spent the rest of the night with one eye open. I truthfully wanted a peaceful resolution, but what could I do?
WHAT I COULD DO
Since that night, I haven‘t seen my cats. I thought it would be best in the short term if Howard and Jojo lived with my father. Being a social worker, he’s much more liberal and accepting than I. They may find his home to be the sanctuary their lifestyle demands, the one I could never provide. Although I never denied them their sexuality, I never really acknowledged it either. Not a day goes by that I don‘t think about Jojo. My hope is that maybe, just maybe, he’s out there, thinking of me too. Not in that way of course. You know what I mean.
-Collin Jay Blair -