Words Can't Express What You Mean to Me
But that’s not what I’ve come to talk about. I have come to talk about self-denial. Last night, my neighbor Marina and I were chatting when, seemingly out of nowhere, she announced that she had given up sugar. I winced sympathetically, assuming this was some desire for self-improvement or self-abuse, but no. I had forgotten that yesterday was Lent and Marina has given up sugar for many, many days. Crud, Lent; I racked my brain for something to shun. It was nearly evening, so I had already eaten plenty of carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine.
[Yes, I went back to caffeine. Turns out the city frowns on people taking little naps at stoplights.]
I could have started late and given up one of those, but it seemed as if I would be cheating. And there was the part where if I don’t eat sugar, carbohydrates and caffeine, I might starve to death. Yes, I didn’t actually have to pick anything to give up, but yesterday I had used my slow-cooker and started pulling together tax paperwork. Giving up something for Lent seemed as if I would be pulling off the maturity hat-trick. I needed something I truly loved but, candidly, wasn’t half of my caloric intake. After a minute, I decided I was giving up doughnuts and caramel. The caramel would also mean no Dulce de Leche ice cream, no cajeta, no fleur de sel, nothing that gave me pleasure or can loosen a filling. The doughnut thing won’t bother me until I take Consort to the airport, because there’s a Krispy Kreme store right near the airport, but he’s been travelling a lot. Both seemed mildly uncomfortable, together forming a Lentian degree of denial.
Lulabelle -- Lupac as her rap fans know her-- has been living with another form of deprivation and unlike me she had no say in it. Thanks to her near-miss with dying in a blaze of glory, she’s now an indoor cat, and as far as she’s concerned this is like giving up caffeine, sugar and breathing. She stalks around the house, testing the integrity of windows and doors, resentment coming off her in waves. Mostly, she takes it out on the dog who, she’s irritated to notice, is always around. Pleased with her new omnipresence, the dog is constantly smiling at her, barking playfully at her, throwing his butt in the air and genially offering to play tag with her. Sure, slapping him brings a little light to her day, but not as much as getting outside, checking her trap lines and hanging with her homie.
As Puff Daddy had Biggie Smalls, Lupac has her second-in-command. A few months ago, I noticed that a tabby cat had taken to hanging around my front yard. Being as the tabby looked like Sydney Greenstreet in a fur jumpsuit, I knew that it belonged to someone so I didn’t automatically start trying to catch it and save it. This is good because this cat has spent every single day in my front yard for months and not only won’t let me get closer than eight feet, it sneers at me, which I didn’t think cat’s facial muscles could do. But, its upper lip curls a little bit, its eyes narrow in disgust; it can’t believe I’m still offending it by existing. Because it’s a constant presence in our lives, I decided to give it a name. Because we can’t get anywhere near it to determine things like gender, I’ve named it Victor/Victoria. As much as Victor/Victoria disdains me, Victor/Victoria and Lulabelle seem to truly like each other. The affection is feline, of course, which means it’s invisible to the naked eye. But when two cats cat sunbathe within a foot of each other and ignore one another for a whole afternoon, that’s friendship. Victor/Victoria would open for Lupac on tour and Lupac would produce Victor/Victoria’s debut CD.
And now Lupac is inside, and Victor/Victoria is sneering, but also whining. Even now, over the sound of Boris and Natasha plotting some dastardly deed, I can hear Victor/Victoria outside in the yard, complaining. I’ve thought about going out and indicating that some of us are living without caramel and doughnuts and don’t see us rolling around in the front yard shouting, but it’s only day one of Lent. By next week, Victor/Victoria and I will get over our West Coast/East Coast, Cat/Human rivalry and will be doing a duet of “I’ll Be Missing You” to our lost loves.