Matisse is a scaredy cat that rarely ventures from our property and likes to hang out by the back door, so he can scurry in quickly for a meal. Between meals, he hangs out on the windowsill, meowing at anyone who will listen.
“Hey there,” he calls. “Hey you. Yeah, you. I’m hungry over here. I need some kibble.”
“Don’t let him in. He just ate,” my husband calls.
“Don’t listen to him,” Teesie meows. “He’s a hater. I need a nosh.”
Teesie has problems. He gorges himself like Henry VIII and seems to think our mud room is his private vomitorium. We try to give him a little at a time, so he paces himself. When he’s satiated, he walks away from the bowl and finds comfort nesting in a laundry bag full of dirty underwear. So we open the door to scoot him outside, but he races back to his dish for a few more nuggets, afraid it might be his last meal. Once evicted, he leaps back onto the windowsill and meows again.
“I’m hungry. Let me in. I need one more bite. Please! I’m starving out here. Look! My fur’s hanging. I’m going all Mary Kate Olsen as we speak.”
If we go out to the deck to light the barbecue, he scampers under our feet to his dish, like a P.O.W. who hasn’t seen food in a year, better yet five minutes ago.
I’m not sure if he has an eating disorder or feline dementia. He’s 10. Is there such a thing as kitty Alzeheimer’s? Maybe he really doesn’t remember scarfing down his dinner. Whatever the cause of his problems, they are borne of mental illness. Shouldn’t I show compassion?
He looks so pathetic through the window, with his little pink nose pressed against the glass … kind of like I looked on Jenny Craig, when my family was eating lasagna and I was eating a chicken carbonara you could fit on a cracker. Maybe Science Diet is like kitty chow mein. Maybe it’s not his fault he’s hungry an hour later.
So I sneak into the back room, open the door and let him have one more nibble, while my husband shakes his head. In the world of addiction, I am what is known as an enabler. I feel sorry my little fat friend, because it’s not his fault they don’t make kitty lap bands, Sensa or Zumba videos. Plus, I know what it’s like to have tiny morsels of goodness call to me in the night … and the morning … and mid-afternoon.
“Parri. There’s a whole bunch of chips here you missed. Come get their salty, starchy, fat-laden, cancer-causing goodness. … Parri, there are still some crumbs here that collectively add up to half a Dorito. … Parri, the crumbs are gone, but there’s still some salty residue left. Come lick my bag.”
I can’t open a roll of Ritz when I’m alone … or a quart of Breyer’s … or Girl Scout Thin Mints. I can’t break the seal on a jar of cocoa almonds … or take just one Chips Ahoy.
This is why I spring for overpriced single-serving snacks. Because once a package is open, I have to eat it – all of it. Food calls to me like a mythological siren, its enchanting music and voice luring me like a sailor to shipwreck on the rocky coast of its delicious island. My siren plays Barry Manilow’s “This One’s for You” and talks dirty to me in the voice of George Clooney.
“You want me, baby. I know you do. I’m all yours. Come swirl your tongue across my hard, salty body. You. Are. Mine.”
It’s like food porn: Fifty Shades of Lays.
Well, it’s over between us, George. You are a bad, bad man. You don’t love me. You’re a user, and this relationship is killing me. I’m ending it before you give me a double STD (Sugary/Salty Transmitted Disease). I already have sleep apnea and my clothes don’t fit. I don’t need high cholesterol and cardiac problems.
As for the cat, starting now, he’s on a diet, too. I will not give in to his begging and pleading. We are both shaping up right now.
“Stop looking at me like that, Teesie.”
“No, you can’t have just two tiny morsels”
“I don’t care that they give out after-dinner mints at the Olive Garden. No dessert tonight. Your belly’s already wiping up the deck when you walk.”
“Yes, I know there’s still some food in your bowl.”
“So what if there are cats starving in Ethiopia? This is America, man.”
“I said no.”
“No means no.”
“Meow. Meow. Meow.”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake, alright. Just shut up and come in. … I’ll go grab the Cheeto’s, so you don’t have to eat alone.”