My neighbor—who has held agonizingly long and agonizingly audible fights in Italian with her philandering husband at least three times a week for the entire time I’ve lived in my building—came up to my apartment this morning and informed me that I had to stop with all the thumping and bumping at night as the gigantesco noise was disturbing her famiglia. I nodded, perplexed. I keep very decent cat lady hours, after all. Then I noticed baby kitty Grace batting her toy with a studied innocence, and ye olde wheels started turning. It is true that my tiny, five-pound feline has been hunting and trapping her evil, evil enemy The Horrible Catnip Mouse with an unusual gusto lately. “At least she doesn’t chase big blondes,” I thought, and fed her a bit of fish.
Though normally an early riser, I could not wake up in these last weeks before daylight savings time. I slept through phone calls, alarm clocks, even my neighbors’ noisy morning sex. Finally, my cat Grace took matters in her own hands. Not by yowling or ruining furniture or biting my toes but by carefully dragging all her toys next to my head, one by one, until I finally opened my eyes. Each morning I was greeted by a pile of soft feathers and strings and catnip mice and her sweet, worried face—the gentlest landing from a flight of sleep I could imagine. It reminded me of how lucky I am to live with such a considerate, tender-hearted little being. And how proud I am to be a cat lady.
These days the words old maid or spinster may be dismissed as outdated, even cruel, but cat lady is still bandied about unreservedly and with the same intent: as a derogatory term for an unattached female. A single woman in a Mrs. Whatsit getup of coffee-stained schlubby layers who reads dog-eared paperbacks, never misses her shows, eats from cans along with her furry wards. Who hasn’t got laid in decades and couldn’t if she tried. Who languishes in a cramped, overheated, urine-stained apartment piled high with dirty dishes, cigarette smoke, ratty furniture, and, of course, cat hair.
If it sounds awful, so be it. That’s the mishegas that gets thrown my way because I am Of A Certain Age and remain unmarried, childless, and domestically solitary save for a feline cohabitant—especially now that nearly everyone can get married and have kids. Forget about the fact that I live in an amazing city, enjoy my work and friends, love my considerate and charismatic roommate. Because she is a cat, there exists a two-word phrase that people can use to dismiss my life.
I am cat lady, hear me purr. Continue Reading →