I finally did it. Took Mr. Tibbs to the vet and had him put to sleep. It was getting to the point of no return, not able to hold anything down, walking in circles at the foot of the bed, the constant whine at night, his guttural directives to get up off my ass. Mr. Tibbs and I were together for some 16 years. On stage, we made a great act.
Mr. Tibbs was a schizophrenic cat, a Siamese with deep blue acid eyes, a fawn-colored coat. He loved to churn out kit-cryptic neologisms. During our stage act, the audience must have thought I was the puppet and Mr. Tibbs was a little man inside a cat. Sometimes, he supplied my speech.
For his burial, I dressed in bowler hat, neck tie, pinstripe suit and spats. I spent the rest of the afternoon sweeping Mr. Tibbs from under the carpets, the sheets, his hairs clinging to my clothes, the way I once clung to him as if by static electricity and invisible threads.
Then I realized I forgot about my blind date, Golda Stern. If Mr. Tibbs was here, he’d say, “Get up off your ass, Herbie, you lazy schmuck!”
So the woman let me in, served me some black licorice tea and I asked her whether it came in Cornish Rex flavor. She stared at me as if I had just thrown her mother overboard from a cruise ship. I was just trying to be funny.
She said, “There's no ticklers in this house.”
I said, “Madam, I like hot kippers.”
And with that I bade her good-bye, making some excuse about leaving a quail out on bail in the oven.
I took a streetcar to the nearest burlesque club. There, up on stage was Bettie Paige gyrating to the song Town Without Pity, removing one fleecy garment at a time. In fact, I swore she winked at me. Actually, I taught her everything she knew. Man, could she purr. Somebody in the back row growled.
It reminded me of the time, when I was very young and still a virgin below the ears. I met a burlesque queen who wore matching leather-print brassiere and panties. She had fat calves, whiskers on her chin, and a sexy meow. After almost tickling me to death, she placed a leash around my neck, ordered me down on all fours, and said for me to whine like a cat. She said if you act the part you will become the part.
When she strutted to the bathroom, I ran out of the room, screaming Holy Feathers! But I kept returning without fully understanding why. I discovered how incredibly soft the inner core of the world really was. Afterwards, I heard a cat crying outside my door. “Let me in,” he said in a scratchy falsetto. He must have been a tortured cat. I did and I never made him wear a leash.
published 21 November 2012