I like cats, but my affection for these aloof felines sometimes comes with negative consequences – and therefore I don’t always like that affection.
For instance, as much as I love getting cat on my face, my immune system doesn’t. It makes my skin turn red and bumpy. I start to wheeze and sneeze. I scratch my neck. And if I get cat in my eyes – either directly or via my fingertips – they turn red, water, and itch like a motherfucker.
But I’ve recently realised another disadvantage of liking cats:
I suspect I’ve had it for some time – years, maybe. But I never realised it until now.
I first started to suspect something a couple of months ago, when I was at a party. I was standing in a small kitchen with a group of people, who were talking and drinking, and possibly eating. But although I was holding a beer, and possibly food, and maybe had my mouth open, I was doing none of those things.
Instead, I was watching a cat.
It was on the floor, eating, drinking, talking or whatever. My friend got my attention, looking slightly exasperated, and pointed out that I had been saying something – trying - to say something, for quite some time, but was clearly incapable of doing so with a cat in the room.
I can’t really remember how I responded to this accusation, but after subsequent events now suspect it was with something like:
‘What? Don’t be ridi… awww… come here. Come here! Aww… Does it like cheese? Can you pass me some cheese?’
I forgot about my friend’s comment for a few months. Maybe because I was drunk by the end of the night, or had encountered another cat. But last friday I went to one of those civilised things adults occasionally stage – a dinner party – and this was where I truly learned about the nature of this debilitating condition.
It went something like this:
Six friends sit in a room, making noises that might be interpreted as conversation.
Friend A: ‘…yeah, really, really good.’
Me: ‘Did they have all the pyrotechnics again?’
Friend B: ‘Yeah, so much fire! The flamethrower thing nearly burned my face off.’
Miss-Matic, joining the conversation: ‘Who was supporting?’
Friend A: ‘Oh, I, uh, can’t remember…’
Friend B: ‘Wasn’t it… Oh… Erm… We got there late and missed most of the other bands.’
Friend A: ‘You’ve seen them before, have you?’
Me: ‘Oh, yeah, when Miss-Matic and I first…’
Me: ‘… started…’
Miss-Matic: ‘Yeah, I bought him tickets… When was it? Two thousand… … ….. … …‘
Me: ‘Huh? What? Where?’
Friend B: ‘Do you want another beer?’
Me: ‘Oh, yes please.’
Conversation resumes as normal. Drinks are served, places are taken at the table, food enters faces.
Friend C: ‘…I love his status updates! He loves himself!’
Friend A: ‘Is he the one who keeps posing with his cameraphone?’
Miss-Matic: ‘Yeah. He moves a bit of hair slightly to the left and thinks it deserves to go on Facebook.’
Me: ‘I don’t think I’ve met him.’
Miss-Matic: ‘Yes you have. You just don’t remember anyone. Ever.’
Friend D: ‘He’s a really boring guy…’
Me: ‘Maybe that’s why I…’
Friend B: ‘Does anyone want this last piece of pizza? If nobody wants it … … .. ……‘
Me: ‘Huh? What? Who?’
Miss-Matic: ‘Friend C was talking to you.’
Me: ‘Oh. But… But the cat is sitting in the pizza box.’
Friend B: ‘Yeah, she does that.’
Friend B flaps her hands at the black and white cat, and it runs away.
There comes a knock at the door, and Friend A goes to answer it. He is knocked to the floor as three masked men rush inside with baseball bats. A furious battle ensues. Soon the intruders have the upper hand, and only I stand between them and the drugs. I mean, gold.
Miss-Matic: ‘Ash! Do something! You’re the only one who can save us …. …. …..‘
Me: ‘Huh? What? When?’
Miss-Matic: ‘I’ll just kill these bad guys myself, shall I?’
She snaps the last of their necks, and lets the body slump to the floor. I stare, open-mouthed, at the corpses.
Me: ‘How… How the hell did you do that?’
Miss-Matic shrugs as she opens another beer.
‘It was easy. They were too busy staring at that bloody cat.’