Tappa-Kegga-Day

That was what we called kegger night in college.Literally.

Ok, maybe just too old for a birthday on a three day weekend. Because the MLK day/Xtopher’s birthday alignment means my birthday was celebrated for four damn days.

Today is a day of rest.

Also, I have a handyman here (not) fixing things.

Having been busy yesterday, I just checked the Facebook for the first time since…maybe Saturday? Friday?!? Oh, the social media birthday love. It motivated me to share some of my weekend with you, which I wasn’t planning on.

My brain is fatigued and more than slightly pickled, though…fatigued from three weeks of daily writing. Im thinking of hanging that initiative up this Friday or Saturday. My goal was daily blog posts for a month. Would the 1st-26th count?

My original goal was to wear myself out writing so when I go in to try editing my book again, I make notes on what I want to edit. Last time I went in to try and edit, I started adding and fracked up my timeline.

I figure wrap up my January writing initiative, take a few days to read a book a blog buddy sent over – I’m seriously burnt out on words enough that I’m barely reading the blogs I follow. When I sat down to his book, the only opinion I had was

Nope. Cannot do.

(I’m sorry, Phil, I’m working on it!)

So, take a few days to read my friend’s work then get cracking on some damage control on my own.

Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ve already figured out the pickling problem.

Or, not-problem.

The unexpected outpouring of well-wishes I encountered on the Facebook surprised me, as usual. It also kinda washed over me and extended my birthday feels another day.

Friday and Saturday were pretty low key, drinks and shenanigans with my own version of Fox & Friends. Little Buddy shot me an invite, all spur of the moment, to go see a Power Point Improv show we’d discussed a while back. I couldn’t make it, prior engagement.

Birthday weekend shenanigans…

I debated not telling her it was birthday-related. I really am low key about my birthday. Swearsies.

Saturday when I was out with the Silver Fox, I asked him

My family has been quiet about my birthday. Are they up to something? If they are…I kinda feel like I should get a haircut.

He assured me that they were not. Then he casually remarked that I might want to get a haircut, though.

Jerk.

Hehe. I assumed he was commenting about my overall shagginess.

Resolutions for the new year?

Not exactly my thing. But when I do make them, they are me all the way.

1) Write and post a blog entry daily, which you all know.

2) Not cut my hair.

I’ve been trying to grow out a longer style for the last six months or so. Around June, I figured if I wasn’t going to work, maybe I should indulge my back of mind musings on having crazy old man hair.

Why not?

Only, the last few times I’ve gone in to get it cleaned up around the edges, I’ve ended up long on top, trimmed back to above the ears and looking like a Flock of Seagulls refugee.

So, I gave basic hair maintenance two tries and then embargoed it til the end of January. When I make up my mind about these types of things, I always feel bad for my friends. They’re the ones that have to look at – no, endure the fallout.

Anyway, I don’t care, my family isn’t planning anything, so I don’t give it much more thought. A little later, my mom texts me and invites me to brunch on my birthday.

Perfect. Nice and low key, just the way I like it.

For Sunday afternoon, The Fox and I had just planned on going to the hotel bar next door for a few beers. Then we were going to come back to my place and watch some Grace & Frankie. It was a perfect plan.

When we meet up on the corner, he announces that Owl X had texted him that Pallet Jack was back at Big Legrowlski.

Well, I guess we’re going to BL!

I’m laughing and crossing Everett before I even finish the sentence.

All things being equal, it’s Sunday afternoon. I know either bar will have some of my favorite staff working – all of whom definitely fall into the Guy Candy category. But Joey at Legrowlski is in his last couple of weekends before leaving the country to work overseas and has a habit of “accidentally” oversharing the most scintillating personal details. Unless the Tanner Creek boys are working in jock straps for my birthday, Pallet Jack and Joey win!

We walk in and I’m immediately irked by the twosome sitting in the corner. They brought their dog in. I love the dogs that come with or walk by at The Fox and I sit outside sipping away the Summer.

But not inside.

I’m trading hellos with Joey while I hope the Rug Room isn’t too packed, cuz I don’t want to sit on the small bar side with a dog.

Are you surprised?!?

I’m debating how to answer:

– Surprised you let a dog – other than me! – in?!?

– Surprised that I don’t see Pallet Jack on the tap list?!?

Don’t let anyone tell you that being a grumpy old man is easy.

Decisions, decisions.

The Fox is pulling me out of the way. I’m trying to look behind me to see whose way I’m in and he’s shoving me into the Rug Room.

Surprise!

My parents, siblings and brother in law are tucked around a pub table in one corner. Their table, I notice, is blocking the fire exit. The Fox is standing behind me, trying to get me into the group. They certainly know me.

Little Buddy, 2.0 and JOrtis are sitting around a low table, looking pretty happy with themselves.

Diezel and Linda Belcher are wrapped into the far corner, flanking some other guy. It’s kind of dark and the walls are all black in the Rug Room, but I really don’t know if I don’t remember him, can’t see him well enough to recognize honor if someone brought me a present.

Nah…that would be weird.

Not unwelcome…just weird.

What I should have said is:

Do you know what this could do to a man my age?!?

Or,

Surprised someone throws a surprise party for a something-ty-first birthday?!?

But instead I just stood there with my mouth hanging slightly open.

The Silver Fox is chuckling contentedly behind me and still nudging me, so I begin hugging my way into the room. As I’m finishing, people start shifting their comments toward birthday beers.

It’s not that they are out of Pallet Jack, it’s that in order to ensure they have Peej for the party, they’ve been sitting on a keg for the past two weeks! Owl X and I had even discussed it the prior week as I was leaving, neither palleted nor jacked and she said, “See you soon!”

You got any Pallet Jack on order?”

“Maybe. I’m not sure. Brendan” – the owner and Dude enthusiast – “said he wanted to keep it on tap always, so probably?”

Sneaky.

Joey takes me into the walk-in and I’m resisting saying anything about Three Minutes in Heaven. Somehow we manage to get about five people into the walk-in to document the transition. Several of us are lecturing Joey on how tapping a keg used to be a lot harder than what he talked me through…when we were your age.

I’d actually seen the new tap mechanisms back in my grocery working days a few Great-Job-Hunts-ago.

The Fox was talking about Rent Parties that we would have in college. Get a keg for $35 and invite your friends over for a $5 all-you-can-drink night!

I was telling Joey how we would have to manually pump the taps at those keg nights.

My sister was angling for a good pic. Hint: I no longer have a “good side”!

But here ya go…

Birthday Boy with his birthday beer!

A little later someone rectified the situation on the tap list, too.

That eventually – after we got booted from the rug room three hours later so the band could set up – evolved into having a Secret Tap “for the regulars”. A few of them stopped by over the course of the afternoon and evening and shared a pint with the party. Owl X had been a little late arriving and missed the tap moment, but she found the light controls and smoke machine! Karaoke was briefly discussed and abandoned.

I think we’d held the festivities – and the bar side – hostage with our sheer number of people for another hour before people started heading off into the cloudy evening. No Blood Wolf Moon viewing here in Portland!

Diezel and his date – the stranger was his. I mean, geez, D, it’s my birthday…you gotta let me unwrap something! – had another birthday party to go to and we’re the first to leave. I got to chat with them a while and I have to say, I’m glad Diezel may have found himself a good old keeper.

Not to jinx anything. Since I’m not involved, I think it’s safe…

Little Buddy took her guys and headed off toward the ‘Couv. She has a kiddo at home to think of feeding. I forgot to ask how the Power Point Improv was, but in retrospect, I think it may have even been a red herring!

My family was the next to go, but almost the last to leave besides The Fox, Owl X and I. Mom was “taking one for the team” as my sister put it and acting as the family DD. Still, having her driving after dark on a cloudy night was a little hard for me to be 100% comfortable with.

On the other hand, I hadn’t been drunk with my siblings since…I dunno. Maybe my sister’s wedding? But I don’t think we were out of control for that. My brother rarely has a beer, let alone what we decided was four for him that night. My sister shocked me by jumping in head first with her first beer. Since Peej was not yet available, she had a Notorious Triple IPA…just an 11.2% alcohol by volume concoction.

Hats off, sis!

My dad took a break from his canned water of choice (Coors Light, which I heard they were giving away in Flint for hydration, j/s dad!) and enjoyed some of Oregon’s Finest.

Tastes a little apricot-y.

My favorite moment of the night!

I’d said the exact same words to Little Buddy the first time her, 2.0 and I had gotten together for beers. LB and I were working together again, her and 2.0 had just decided to give the dating thing another go and I’d been convinced to try an IPA. I’d notoriously hated them for 20 years, opting instead for Ambers and Reds.

They were surprised by my statement.

Well, it’s definitely got a stone fruit note to it.

They humored me. Well, maybe they agreed that I had a weird mouth and I agreed to ignore their assessment.

“It must just be a weird palate thing with your family”, Little Buddy said.

This is why we’re friends.

Joey’s shift had ended and my other favorite bartendress had reported for duty, sneaking a crowler of the good stuff into my goodie bag.

Linda Belcher was the last non-regular to leave. Although, since she passes the bar on her way rom her office to the bus stop, she’s known to wander in looking for me on occasion.

Sometimes she sees me and joins me.

Other times I’m not there.

Still others, she doesn’t see me.

I think I enjoy the times she sees me and joins me most, but those times she doesn’t see me are pretty friggin hilarious.

We got to sit in the Rug Room and chat a little. The band was really good, just a him & her type duo. Not too loud, so we could enjoy both the music and some talk. Her husband – Bob Belcher of Bob’s Burger fame, obviously – is in Nepal for several months and I’ve been meaning to check in on Linda Belcher for a couple weeks…just…life.

There were some folks I’d have loved to see present. Some – like Filipina Fox and her husband – were out of town for the weekend. Others, the Silver Fox just couldn’t contact because he didn’t have their contact info. He’s not on social media, so he couldn’t use Messenger as a tool to reach out to my other known associates.

The biggest shocker wasn’t how well he pulled this off – starting with hiding the keg weeks ago. No, it was that he kept it a secret. That’s truly impressive. He’s always accidentally giving away the twist in a movie or show. I think the years that we’ve been friends have caused some of my sneakiness to accidentally rub off on him.

I woke myself up on my actual birthday morning because I’d been smiling so hard in my sleep that I think I couldn’t actually be unconscious and simultaneously that happy.

There’s worse ways to wake up.

We finally got to watch some Grace & Frankie last night. I know you were worried.

Birthday breakfast.

Birthday lunch.

And then the bottle of wine The Fox got me last year at my birthday to round out the birthday proper while we binged on Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s old-age misadventures.

I was exhausted after four days of friendly camaraderie and about a month’s worth of alcohol in that same timeframe.

My low key day today brought all the feels back just by opening Facebook. I’ve been doing a good job of only checking in once a day. Actually, I’ll miss days now and then.

Yesterday was one of those days.

That big old birthday smile came back. For some, maybe it’s not a big deal…but to me, having over 100 folks take time out of their day to wish me well is a big deal.

Touching.

Even Portland’s former mayor dropped me a note.

Replying to these messages is what made me think to blog about my birthday in detail. Plus, this gave me a chance to prove that I didn’t drink too much!

I remembered!

It started out about like this blog…

Then got sweet…

I didn’t even know I had birthday wishes! Outside of the lottery win that refused to comply…

Actually, there was a little WTF moment when I started responding. Check out the background…

Hmmm. <unfriend>? Actually, it fits my personality. Well, not the “god” part. But, it’s the thought, right?

And speaking of my personality. One of The Fabulous Baker Sisters has to weigh in!

And, I’m case you worried, we had more than a few Myrtle mentions…

So, here’s to another year of surviving Myrtle’s Gulag, life and the occasional happy surprise.

Thanks for reading, every one of you!

Tappa-Kegga-Day

Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy

Still!

I went to a movie yesterday. Mary Poppins Returns…highly recommend, Charlotte, as if you haven’t already seen it! But anyone else that loves a good, family friendly story that’s dripping with nostalgia…go see it! If you also like crafty, half-marathoning, Disney loving new moms, then click on the link to check out Charlotte’s blog. It’s like checking in with an old friend, that you just met.

Anyway, The Fox and I enable one another for a drop-in to the good old local for a Pallet Jack on the way home. It’s a moral imperative, I tell ya. If Peej is on tap, I’m stopping in!

All this is to say that after I left the house at 345 for a 415 movie – after giving Myrt her midday snackety-snack – and have myself the teensiest of tasties on the way home…it’s 715. Myrtle’s 6 PM dinner is late!

That cat greeted me at the door like I’d just come home from a solo trek across Antarctica. Sure enough, in the extra 75 minutes, she’d finished her breakfast kibble, which she doesn’t normally do, and reverted to a near-feral state.

Wet dinner, coming right up, Missus!

Fifteen minutes of smacking later, she’s meowing at the door to go play in the hallway. Since getting a new neighbor a few weeks ago, I’m reluctant to let the Missus out into the hallway as often as I used to when it was just me and “another” old lady living on the floor. I don’t know why, I prop the door open for Myrtle while she’s in the hall putting the laying in playing and she runs in and under the bed when the elevator lifts off of the first floor.

30 minutes later, I’m texting a friend and I hear the distinct sounds of impending disaster.

Hur-uh-hurg-uh-rawlp!

Now, two things to keep in mind here:

First, Myrtle has a history of false alarms. More often than not, a few hacks sets her right.

Second, on the half dozen times she’s hurled since I’ve been holding her hostage, it’s that rawlp that signals real trouble.

I get up and look for the chunky puddle.

Nowhere.

Nor, it seems, I’d my feline overlord. It had sounded like she was by the utility room…

No.

I open the cracked door and Myrtle looks up at me from the doormat next door, her expression inscrutable. No barf.

Maybe it was a false alarm.

Breathing a sign of relief, I give her a distrustful look and turn to go back inside.

Something in my peripheral vision makes me stop. Sure enough, 20 feet away, there’s a clump puddle trying to decide what to do.

Myrtle…!

To her credit, she went to her office, located somewhere in the box springs of my bed, instead of supervising my clean up efforts. Unlike the close oversight I get when tending to her litter box.

Speaking of the Missus and her box of poo.

I know cats cover their waste as a generic throwback – or reminder – to their days in the wild. Covering waste is covert, so others don’t catch their scent. Like you when you use the bathroom on another floor at work to poo – you know who you are.

Anyway, my defective cat…she endeavors to cover her waste. I guess. If by “cover” you mean scratch around at everything near your box versus simply pulling litter over the waste and – y’know…covering it. I’ve watched this supposed superior being scratch at the wall behind the box, the chair or table legs that the box is under and the floor outside the box.

Nope.

The closest she’s gotten is scratching at the lip of the box. Unfortunately, since she was scratching with one paw and balancing her svelte self on the lip with the other paw, so only succeeded in covering her poop inasmuch as tipping the cat box over and burying it under an avalanche of spilling litter counts.

My cat ain’t bright, folks.

But these are her “Aaw, poor kitty!” behaviors.

She has never been a real affectionate cat. Playful is not her thing.

I nicknamed her Murderous Myrtle and The Mistress Myrtle for a reason.

This is our fourth year together. Each year at Christmas, my sister gets Myrt a gift, as she does for each of the family dogs. Usually it’s a crack-version of a treat, which Myrtle loves, and a catnip toy…which she pretends is trash.

Still, every year, I give it the futile college try. A little ignored encouragement and then into the closet it goes.

Until this year.

It might have just been the trauma of going into the kitty carrier and a 40 minute car ride. Or the DMZ meeting of my parents’ chihuahuas in my upstairs guest room – Myrtle has never traveled anywhere previously with me but the vet. But this year, the catnip toys got a little attention. At first, it was just a few

These fucking things again

…swaps after she emerged from under the bed. But then I caught her laying on her side, hugging one between her front paws.

I took some of the loose cat nip and sprinkled it on the carpet and she came over, sniffed at it, sat on it and then flipped over and rolled in it twice before skulking back under the bed.

Promising.

At home, I have no carpets. She diligently destroyed my one and only favorite all time carpet years ago. I think this is why she loves the neighbor’s doormat so much. Anyway, I tried sprinkling some loose catnip on a dish towel at home for her. Sure enough, she luuuuurrved it. I’d even catch her running to the towel and planting her front paws on it so she skidded across the floor, gliding on the towel.

I like this new cat!

Myrtle 2.0!

Until one morning I come back from coffee to find that she’s successfully covered a poop in her box with the dish towel.

That’s more like it.

Still, this is all just inane cat weirdness, right?

She hasn’t put me on my face in two years. That’s saying something!

Or, maybe she just hasn’t succeeded in tripping me…and I’m hardly one to assume the worst.

However, a couple weeks ago…it was 3:40 on a Sunday morning. Billy Joel, this wasn’t, no regular crowd…just insomniac me, watching the Netflix.

And the Murderous Myrtle.

Knowing nothing of the prophet Billy Joel and his song about people being alone together, Mistress Myrtle had just climbed into my lap.

Climbed might be overselling it. She’d scrabbled over the far side of the coffee table, using my ankle for purchase; been freaked out by my cry of pain and jumped onto the back of the couch, landed on my shoulder and connected the claws of three paws with my tee shirt clad flesh.

Here’s the only G-rated and non-humiliating pic I could get of the damage

I’m not sure I could capture the double tracks on my shoulder without also exposing more side boob, chicken wing or Dunlap than I care to admit to. But on the plus side, my ankle looks way thicker than its usual Chankle (chicken ankle – Chrisism) self.

Since I was trying to get her off of and away from me, she settled on my lap. I sat and bled, fearful of the proximity of her claws to my crotch.

This has now become a part of Myrt’s nightly routine.

300: Snack

530: Pretend it’s dinner time.

600: Dinner. Finally!

630: Whine at the door. Or a kitchen cabinet door. Just whine.

700: Pre-bedtime nap.

830: Fully dilate pupils and attack.

845: Retreat, but be creepy about it.

1100: Bedtime!

It’s the addition of that 830 activity that has me on high alert. She’ll just come sit by the coffee table and stare at my ankles, like they are singing a hypnotic siren song that only she can hear. When she feels like mixing it up, she’ll sit behind the corner of the couch. I can hear her paws clickety-click-clack up slowly behind me and I’ll turn to see her sitting there, black eyed…

Meow

“Don’t you even think about it.”

Meooow

“Shoo, Crazy Eyes!”

…and she’s off to the box spring home office.

Clearly, we have differing hobbies. Mine is to cuddle and watch Netflix

…or nap, hers is to kill or maim me.

Maybe it’s because she resents that she’s not a dog and doesn’t get three or four walks a day.

Whatever, there was a couple of moderately non-lethal years in there. Maybe the dark days this winter are just hitting her particularly hard.

I’m still walking around, so she clearly still finds me useful. Even if it’s just as a cushion and occasional scratching post.

Myrt and I Need Couples Therapy

MNSC: Escalation Edition

16 hours ago, I was gifted-slash-bequeathed a 5L bottle of wine by the Silver Fox’s Son.

If you need some forced perspective hyperbole for scale, it’s blocking out my fridge in that picture…

Of course, I joked that I wasn’t sharing it. Secretly, I wondered when I would have occasion to polish it off.

Monday Night Supper Club has died. A victim of its own purpose.

Our foursome became a threesome when the one couple broke up.

Then a five-some, when the third embraced the meal’s mission and invited a couple into the mix.

Then a sixth was added, I think just to prevent the couple from being able to become a voting bloc. Or is it block? Who cares.

But then our numbers crushed us under the weight of scheduling – which I was the gateway for, with my stupid retail schedule. I can’t decide fully if I miss that or not. Anyway, we moved from Mondays to Saturdays to Fridays to delays for travel or moving house.

Our group spanned from the west side to northwest, initially. Then from the far east side of town to inner east side and northwest, The Fox and I being the stalwart downtowners that we are. Then we added in a mix of north Portland, just to prove that for all its reputation as a small town, Portland covers a fair amount of territory.

But back to that bottle. This morning, I was staring at it while I got some water from the tap.

“You…what the hell am I going to do with you?”

Returning to bed to read the early morning email deliveries, I cam across a recipe from Alex Delany and Bon Appetit, he likes to send me little ideas that he’s kicking around.Most of the time, I don’t do anything with them, because these Rent Week notions he has are usually something soup or stew oriented, and I’m saving that entire culinary oeuvre for my 60s.

But leeks? C’mon. Who could not? Truly one of the most undervalued alliums/roots there is, in my opinion.

Add in the scariest ingredient ever – wanna guess? I’ll wait…
Ooh, I’m sorry…we were looking for Anchovies!Good guess, though.

But leeks and anchovies? I’m in.

I text The Fox and ask what he’s doing for dinner.

Nothing.

Drinks with one of our bartendresses – which I’d forgotten to invite myself to, but rectified immediately – at 5:30 and then nothing.

Dinner was cooking!

So, I started procrastinating immediately. Naturally.

All I needed to do was go to the store and buy a lemon, three leeks and a tin of anchovies. Everything else was on hand: pasta, white wine and parm.

It’s a Rent Week recipe, it’s supposed to be simple. If you’re curious, here’s the recipe.

Actually, I think I’ll pick up some more parm while I’m out…can’t ever have not enough of that!

My procrastinating took the form of finishing my pizza from last night while watching a few episodes of West Wing.

Oops, missed my noon spin class.

As I was hefting my bulk off the couch to start finishing a blog entry from last year that I planned to post tomorrow, I get a text from the Filipina Fox, telling me her plans had changed and our 8:30 meet up was now a go for earlier if I was available.

Ok, before you start thinking that my life is super exciting and that I have 5:30 drinks, followed by a 6:30 dinner and then back out for 8:30 drinks…slow down. This was nothing but a calendar fail.

Not that I couldn’t stack shit like that, mind you. It’s just that I don’t want to.

Simple Solution: mea culpa for all I’m worth and invite the Filipina Fox to join.

What’s better than a meal with all my Foxes, after all?

Dinner with all my Foxes and the Filipina Fox’s hubster, that’s what.

I start looking around my little abode of humility and think it looks more like Myrtle’s home than mine and that maybe I should bother to clean up and de-fur the joint a little. Friendship only gets one so far in one’s good graces, if you ask me. Sending the Filipina Fox and her hubby home to their Citra Hop Cat with more Myrtle on them than they left home with of her is probably an politically poor idea, in feline politics, at least. I’d hate to get them in cat trouble.

But now, in addition to a little cleaning – very little…just dusting, wiping down the leather, mopping, washing my shower curtain liner, booking some chamber music and polishing my wood furnishings, no big deal, I’m not even cleaning my windows or making my bed – I was left curious as to whether I should double the recipe.

I normally cook a pound of pasta when I cook, otherwise it’s not worth it. Of course, I usually cook a pound of pasta for myself and make two meals of it. When I made carbonara for the six Supper Club boys, I made two pounds.

So, let’s enjoy me being crippled by that neurotic thought for a moment, entertaining and then rejecting the idea of making a fucking salad to go with dinner.

Forget that, I’ll just get bread.

And more wine…problem solved, right?

But then I remember my morning’s quandary.

Suddenly, I know what I’m doing with that gift from the Silver Fox’s son. I think he and his wife have held onto it for years – its a 2005, but I don’t think they’ve had it that long. I will have had it for less than 24 hours before dispatching it.

That.

Escalated.

Quickly.

Now, I only need a 5L decanter…

PS: For you judgy folk, you better believe I’m serving red wine with a white wine sauce!

MNSC: Escalation Edition

Friday Morning Dance Party

I’m not sure what’s gotten into me this morning, but when I woke up, instead of flipping on the tube, I put on some music. Nothing special, I use Pandora and I’ve been letting the Thumbprint Radio do the heavy lifting for me instead of selecting a specific artist station. I really am enjoying that feature. So I’ve had random great music playing throughout the house as I wander from room to room.

Queen and solo Freddie Mercury

Cranberries and solo Delores O’Reardon

Cowboy Junkies

Genesis and – you guessed it – Phil Collins. Still waiting on some Peter Gabriel

Katy Perry

Sting…but no Police

The Outfield!

Pandora had to dig pretty deep into my musical tastes for that last one…

But all this goodness vibing around my little slice of Portland has had me shaking my groove thing as I’ve puttered through my morning.

While I was making breakfast – oatmeal, I swear – I was dancing in place in front of the stove.

Folding laundry at the counter.

Turning my towel into a dancing prop after my shower.

It’s all made me feel good.

Then I look up after reaching down to dry my legs and see this

She’s so judge-y.

I still laughed. Let her judge. Realistically, she’s probably thinking, “I can’t believe this idiot is who I rely upon for food and water…”

Friday Morning Dance Party

Conversations With Myrtle

I stepped on Myrtle today while I was coming in the front door.

Yes, accidentally!

She’d been doing that weave-between-the-legs cat thing and I lost sight of her under a bag of groceries.

Yes, I eat at home. Sometimes.

Sheesh.

Anyway, I did my best to assure her I didn’t mean to step on her while she glared at me from the bedroom door.

“C’mon, Mother…you know I’d never hurt you! Well, step on you.”

She gives me a very non-inscrutable stare.

“You’re just trying to milk this for treats. I’m on to you.”

Self sacrifice.

“Say what, now?”

Self sacrifice. It’s clearly the only way to demonstrate that you meant no harm.

“Not happening.”

Well, here we are then.

“So, the only way for me to prove that stepping on you was an accident is to harm myself?”

It’s a start.

What the hell did you do to your hair, anyway?

“Oh good. This now…well, I went to get a much needed trim. My regular barber was off and I ended up getting a cut from this trans-woman,” I tell her.

Stop. Just stop. Any story that starts with “So, there was this trans-chick” is way beyond my bother.

Says The Mistress walking dismissively under the bed.

But you might care.

I’ve been low-key growing my hair out. My indistinct goal being what I call crazy old man hair. AKA: mad scientist hair. But last time I went to the barber and asked to “clean it up around the ears and thin out the back”, I got a lil bit shorter cut than I wanted.

It was a small setback, so I decided to really let it ride as long as possible between cuts this time.

Ok. I know I’ll regret this, but tell me what happened.

“What happened is last time you curled around my legs like that, you got stepped on”, I tell her. “I thought you were sulking under the bed?”

I can’t help myself, cat=curiosity. You can’t fight nature. Plus, I have a thirst for knowledge…it’s like a sickness.

“Don’t quote Designing Women to me, cat.”

This trans-barber of yours, you were saying?

“Yeah, yeah. Ok. So, ‘clean it up over the ears and thin out the back’, right?”

Myrtle blinks slowly at me. The cat equivalent, I imagine, of “hurry it up”.

“Well, she starts cutting and I ask her if this is her regular station”

Myrtle walks away…again.

“Ok, ok…there’s this picture of a young Keanu Reeves on her mirror and I ask if she was a fan of Baby Keanu.”

Myrtle stops and sits down, still facing away from me.

“The stylist tells me it’s not her usual station, but she does like Keanu”, I tell Myrt. “‘Then she goes on to say that she liked him best after the Civil War’, so I asked her what she’s talking about since I’m not familiar with a Civil War movie of his, right?”

<slow cat blink>

“So she says, ‘Oh, yeah. He’s one of those movie stars that is like 1000 years old…there’s a ton of them. Brad Pitt, Keanu, Richard Gere – which is why he just knocked a baby into his 20-something new bride at 69. Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway. They’re like vampires. There’s a whole bunch of them.'”

“I’m staring at her in the mirror thinking she must’ve taken an Ambien and fallen asleep watching Death Becomes Her or something”, I tell Myrtle.

So, basically you’re blaming this on your inability to shut that crazy down after a few snips and get a sane person to cut your hair?

“Yeah. Basically.”

Great. So now I’m stuck looking at you looking like an 80s boy band refugee that found a time machine.

Tic-toc…it’s dinner time.

That’s my mean old cat. But for as ruthless as she can be, she doesn’t interrupt or talk over me. So even though the conversations can be brutal, they are at least civil.

Not every conversation is like that, either. Some are less crazy cat lady and simply catty. Like when she claws at the front door and I yell at her to shut up. She’ll casually turn her head and reply,

Meow

Then she goes back to scratching, as if daring me to get off the couch. Interesting observation – to me, anyway – she only does this if I’m on the couch. Never when I’m in the bedroom or kitchen.

Cats are weird.

Particularly mine.

Generally, when I tell Myrtle to stop scratching at the door for the second time, she’ll meow at me and the charge the couch from behind. I imagine that she’s hoping her “sneak attack” will catch me with my elbow over the edge of the armrest for her to shred.

Sorry, cat…remember that one time I had my bare feet on the armrest? I sure do.

Somewhere in between the basic meow conversations that leave me wondering what the hell Myrtle is thinking and the possibly only-in-my-head full length conversations we have, there’s a more realistic third variety. This generally involves a plaintive meow – which can tip into the “urgent meow” category, given the circumstance – and food.

Myrtle knows she gets a treat when I get out of bed to pee at night and that wet dinner is at 6 pm. That urgent meow? Yeah…she deploys that when dinner is late. Actually, she starts in with it around 5:30 just to keep me from forgetting.

But she does seem to pepper these helpful cat conversations with some snide commentary. Usually when I would get home from work and open a bottle of wine.

What’s important to know here, is that I usually give Myrtle a second treat when I get home from work. So, I would walk in the door between 4 and 6 pm and say hi to my feline frenemy before giving her a treat. Then I’d head off to change out of my work clothes and possibly shower, depending on whether the day’s heinousness was water soluble.

Redressed in my casual knock-around tee shirt and jeans, I would occasionally open a bottle of wine.

Also, occasionally I would get some sort of derivative of this nonsense from Myrt

Hey, buddy…while you’re making your wet dinner, why don’t ya just hook me up, too?

“Because it’s not dinner time yet. Also, you just had a snack.”

Meow!

“It’s not going to work. Why don’t you go outside? The balcony and front doors are both open.”

Which is why I don’t want to go out. Duh.

“Leave me alone.”

C’mon…it’ll be real easy this way!

“And have you screaming for breakfast in the middle of the night because you ate too early? No, thank you!”

Meow!

“Shut your cat face. Let me unwind a bit.”

You know what helps me unwind?

…she asks digging her claws into her cat tree menacingly.

My cat is a psychotic terror. I swear that I’m not imagining it.

Conversations With Myrtle

Comatose Xtopher

I just woke up on the couch.

It’s 3:30 in the afternoon.

Basically, all I remember from last night is texting with a bachelor from earlier this year and watching Black Panther. I started the movie around 9 with some popcorn and dinner rose.

I was being lazy, obviously, because there is half of a warm bottle of rose sitting on my coffee table, telling me I didn’t want to get up for refills. It’s also telling me that I didn’t want to drink much since there’s basically half a bottle’s worth of evidence.

So, I slept about 17 hours on the couch. Most of this was with my face in direct sunlight from the window by which my couch sits.

Whoa.

I’m lucky Myrtle didn’t start eating me when I missed giving her her breakfast kibble at 7. I do remember her meowing at me at some point during the “night” and telling her to shut her stupid cat face. I’m nice like that when I sleep.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that there was a protest poop on the bathroom floor, though. But, still…she is psychotic.

Apparently, I was dead to the world. But I got a good laugh when I woke up and saw this comment about a previous blog post.

I’m trying?

Now, pardon me while I go re-rewatch Black Panther.

Comatose Xtopher

Life Alone With Myrtle

I was watching The Rainmaker last night, being blown away by the sorrow that greed rains down on people…as well as the inescapable parallel to the definitely pathetic so-called leadership in America.

I got up from my reclined position on the sofa to refill my dinner wine – just kidding, I had lasagna, wine was just the side dish…and dessert – and had this little obstacle to navigate around.

Heading in to the kitchen:Heading back to the couch:

I’d like to think she takes an interest in my doings, but really I know she was just on the lookout for bonus treats.

I told her she’d just had dinner, so no treats.

Going on, I chided her that given the similarities in our body types and supine positions, “Y’know, Myrt, the only real difference between us is this wine glass”.

As clearly unimpressed as Myrtle was with that comparison – her inscrutable gaze seemed to say, “I make it look good” – the brief interaction made me grin. She’s not the warmest of beings, but coming up on three years together, at least we’ve reached a point in our relationship where she’s no longer overtly hostile toward me.

She still makes attack runs at my ankles, but they are…playful?

She still sits and scratches at doors she wants open versus closed. I can count on three such acts occurring in some combination between the linen closet, utility room or coat closet each evening.

She’s still mental is all I’m saying. Just calmer.

And at three years, it’s settled into a pretty nice – using that word loosely – cohabitation. My favorite part being sleeping together at night.

Myrtle spends a good chunk of her day sleeping on the bed. Probably she sleeps about 16 hours a day, which includes my nightly struggle.

Whether my night consists of four hours or seven, she’s usually there with me for most of it. Tolerating my intrusion into her bed.

Frankly, it’s my favorite part of sleeping, having her join me. Sometimes she sleeps at the foot of the bed – I’m a restless sleeper. Others, she’ll snuggle up to my lower leg and a couple times a week, she’ll even nest between my legs.

There’s actually three stages of sharing a bed with Myrtle.

Stage One is my bedtime. Usually, she’s already there and I have to ease myself into a position that is fairly comfortable for me without disturbing her. I’m not always successful with this and sometimes she will leave the bed in protest.

Regardless of my success, she’ll usually hop down at some point. At the very least, she’ll get up with me if I wake up to pee.

She expects a treat. She expects one every time I get out of the bed…like it’s a reward for her not killing me in my sleep.

Stage Two is when she comes back to bed after her treat. I’ll usually lay on my back with a pillow over my face, legs crossed at the ankle or in a figure 4 with one ankle under the opposite knee. She comes back on her own timetable after patrolling the house and maybe playing or dispatching and insects that need killing.

In true unstable Myrtle fashion, she walks into the room – claws clicking on the cork flooring – and instead of jumping on the bed by the door, walks around the bed <click,click,click> and jumps up at the head of the bed. I think she does this strictly to terrify me. The anticipation building until she pounces onto the bed inches from my head.

Now you know why it’s covered by a pillow.

That brief terror is all part of the routine as she reminds me of my place in our relationship. Then she will spend some time picking out her spot, either against my leg or between them. Regardless, my favorite part of every night is when I feel her weight settle in against my body. I smile every time, regardless of how awake/asleep I am.

More than once during this Phase Two, her timing has been around the same time I decide I want a drink of water. I’ll roll over into my stomach and reach over to the nightstand for my glass, propping myself up on my elbows.

<pounce>

Myrtle will settle between my legs as I’m on my elbows and stomach, sipping. Having instantly become settled, Myrtle will meet any disturbance with…prejudice.

This leaves me with two choices: disgruntled feline or making the most of it. Usually, I will pull pillows up under my torso until I am some sort of strange pyramid. Then try to sleep.

She’s for sure the boss.

At some point, I’ll move. This will drive Myrtle out of her nest and she’ll go prowl for a while. Sometimes I’ll be awake and just lay in bed reading, other times I’ll fall back to sleep.

Stage Three is when she comes back to bed for the final time for her pre-breakfast nap.

<click,click,click>

If I’m reading, she’ll definitely crawl onto my crossed legs and stretch out. If I’m not already reading, this is my wake up call and she’ll settle in at the foot of the bed until I get up. She’s nice enough to let me read a little while I wake up.

I think she’s just playing the odds that my old brain will forget whether she had a “midnight” snack or not. Regardless, when I get up she hops onto the table and perches in Snack Pose. If I don’t fall for it and serve her breakfast, she regards me with a look that expresses how disappointed she is in my lack of trainability. Eventually she jumps off her perch and checks out the kibble before finding a spot in the sun for her morning catnap.

It’s a fairly terrifying relationship with moments that I intentionally mistake for affection. But it’s still the most functional relationship I’ve had in the last five years. Having a cat like Myrtle has significantly curbed my desire to date, since what I tend to find in Portland are broken and lost boys.

At least the shit she gives me is literal and flushable instead of emotional and semi-permanent.

I’ll take that trade off.

Life Alone With Myrtle