Well, kids, Mama has the swine flu. Having struck about a week ago, it has been kicking my ass ever since. I’ve been treating it with liberal doses of aspirin and champagne. I call this cocktail the Jackie O, because I’m pretty certain I’ve stumbled on the secret of how high-society types make it through their days.
I suspect I picked up the virus in New York City, where I was staying in an East Side tenement slum for several days. It was my British friends’ idea to book an apartment, rather than stay at a hotel, and they have yet to give me a credible explanation for this crackpot scheme.
I travel a lot on business, and I’ve grown to love hotels. They’re clean, and you can get drinks delivered to your room. You never have to wash a dish; make the bed; or, most important, floss a cat’s teeth.
Yes, you read that right. Floss a cat’s teeth. At the apartment we rented—a place that deliberately seemed to ignore the Disneyfication of NYC, and instead clung to the overly romanticized memory of the desiccated, heroin ruins of the East Village—the fattest cat I’ve ever seen greeted us. At first, I mistook it for an ottoman.
We were not told in advance that we’d have to tend to this behemoth during our stay. But when we arrived, we found a long list of instructions, which included the demand that we floss its teeth.
Now, readers, I’m an animal lover. But having been bamboozled into paying a small fortune to spend a long weekend in a tenement with such a large population of roaches that they actually claimed a seat on the building’s co-op board, I really resented being awakened at five every morning by a pork-roast sized cat throwing itself at my door, demanding to be fed.
“I am not flossing your teeth,” I’d hiss at it, as I mixed its incredibly complicated and smelly breakfast each morning.
But the cat did as cats do: It insisted on rubbing against me, choosing to sit with me rather than my friends, and generally using its feline powers of manipulation to make me think I was falling in love with it.
Pretty soon, I was wrestling with it on the floor, preparing special treats for it, and insisting we rush back to the apartment to spend time with it.
Then, on our last day, I reached for the floss. When the cat saw the floss box, it raised its great mass on its hind legs, and let out a howl of delight. This was the most movement I’d seen in the past three days.
The cat was so obese, it barely could breathe. It had the wheeze of an old Sicilian man. When I wanted to play with it, I had to place a string directly in front of its paws so it didn’t have to exert itself. So, standing on its hind legs was quite an accomplishment.
I can’t tell you much about the flossing other than to say it was weird and oddly enjoyable. My friends filmed it, and you can see the video on my Facebook page.
I’ve had a tough year in my personal life. I’ve been rather villainous, and haven’t felt very good about myself. But in those few weird minutes, when I laid on a filthy floor, and gave a cat a few minutes of pleasure, I thought there might be some hope for me yet. Maybe after I serve my penance via the swine flu, I’ll return to NYC, kidnap the cat, and name it Redemption.