Tonight, Adam and I both did our Sit-N-Spin pieces. Comedy Central Hosts it. The people involved are wonderful and lovely. We have established ourselves as a team...It was so interesting. And the response was fabulous.
I enjoyed that performing experience one gets by being in front of a crowd. Afterward, we all went out and frankly, it felt like a very important night. Agents. Television people. Etc. Hollywood...what an acid trip.
PEOPLE COME FIRST
BY ADAM WARING
It all started in bed. My Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner Don and I were in blissful harmony there. That is until the day Don came home from the doctor, eyes swollen, head clogged, and declared, “That’s it. The cats are no longer sleeping with us.” Naturally, I was upset. Oliver and Juanita were twelve years old and I’ve had them since they were tiny kittens -- two years longer than I’ve had Don. Depriving them – and me – of sleeping together was unthinkable. But I had to admit, Don’s allergies had gotten worse. So much so that he became “unable” to do household chores involving cat hair, or pollen or mildew or dust, lest they cause a “reaction.”
I don’t have allergies. I have a strong, stable constitution, much like our country’s. Don’s constitution is like that of Iraq. And, because I’m always healthy, my tolerance for those who aren’t is low – at least according to Don. So when Don dropped the cat bomb, I pretty much had no choice but to agree. The cats are very dear to me, but people come first. So, with only a hint of passive-aggressive resentment, I followed Don’s explicit instructions and stripped the bed, washed the bedding, zipped the mattress, pillows and duvet into their new, anti-dust mite hypoallergenic plastic slipcovers ($340), dusted and vacuumed the whole room, plugged in the new HEPA-filtered air purifier ($289) and remade the bed. Then we got in it and closed the door on the cats. And Don slept great. None of the usual snoring, wheezing, hacking, coughing, honking, horking or spitting. But I lay there and listened to my poor babies meowing and scratching at the door, my heart in my throat.
Eventually, the cats found new places to sleep, and my bitter resentment toward Don diminished. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his allergies. The next strategy he proposed was for me to cover all the furniture the cats sat on with dust cloths, and for me to keep the dust cloths clean by washing them regularly. We also bought a fancy, HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner ($650), which Don instructed me to use every couple of days. But alas, the cat hair tumbleweeds continued to roll.
Now, we also have a dog – Louise. She’s an adorable little terrier and the apple of Don’s eye. Mainly because when he’s around her, it doesn’t burn and ooze. However, that started to change. Don decided that all Louise had to do was sit where one of the cats had been and – according to the pet chapter in his bible, My House is Killing Me -- she got covered with cat hair and dander. To combat this, Don determined the dog and cats should have as little contact as possible. Since Louise liked the armchair in the office while the cats preferred the living room couch, we bought several pet gates ($115) to keep Louise out of the living room. Of course, the gates made it considerably more difficult for us to navigate our own house, and the pets had now successfully taken over ever piece of comfortable furniture we owned, but Don seemed appeased, and a tenuous peace returned.
That fall, the Santa Ana winds arrived with a vengeance and Don got horribly sick with flu-like symptoms and a sinus infection. It lasted for ten weeks. Toward the end, he made a fateful proclamation – “The cats are leaving the house.” My reaction was no way in hell, as it is with pretty much all new ideas. But Don put it in simple terms: it was either the cats, or him. His idea was to move the cats into the garage, and he would park his car on the street. Our garage happens to have two separate stalls and Don reasoned that his stall would make a nice pussy home. Although I couldn’t deny that it was doable, I absolutely hated the idea. My babies had done nothing wrong, why should they be so severely punished? And how would I pet them and hold them? Don wheezed, “As little as possible. And make sure you wash your hands after.” I burst into tears. But I realized I had to be reasonable. Don was sick as hell, and he had come up with a workable compromise. People come first, right? So with a heavy heart, I reluctantly agreed.
The first order of business was to put down linoleum on the floor of the garage ($250), as no cats of mine were going to live on concrete. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, installing the linoleum only took half a day. We still had time to shop for furniture and accessories, like an upholstered cat tower ($89), a window ledge seat ($50), a recirculating drinking fountain ($59, an electric heater ($39) and a couch ($299). My angels were used to sleeping on a couch, and I wasn’t going to deprive them of that. Plus I figured I would be visiting them quite a bit, and I’d need somewhere to sit. We loaded everything in, and luckily the day, and the weekend, was over. I got another week with Oliver and Juanita inside.
The following Saturday, Don was still deathly sick, so the renovations continued. However, I held out hope that this whole thing would be an exercise in futility, because the hardest part was yet to come -- a collar-controlled dog door to allow Louise access to the yard while keeping the cats out of the house. And lucky for me, Louise is both incredibly dumb and incredibly lazy. She would just as soon piss and shit on one of our antique Orientals. But alas, for $495, Don found the Rolls Royce of pet doors . I didn’t make that up, it’s their slogan. All Louise had to do was get within a few feet of the thing and a plexiglass door magically slid up. As soon as she walked through, the door slid back down again. She was the doggy Get Smart.
And there were no more impediments to my cats being permanently banished. Several weekends, much foot dragging, a horrendous fight, a few blisters, a near electrocution and $3261 later, it was going to happen. I begged Don for another forty-eight hours for the cats to have access to both the house and their new home, and he kindly agreed. Each night I spent an hour or so sitting in the garage, with my little friends purring contentedly on my lap. Of course, when I left to go back inside, they followed me, as they always had.
Don agreed to do the final transition while I was at work. There was no way I could be there. As soon as I left, Don was up and out of bed like a shot, the bloom of health returning to his cheeks, as he eliminated all evidence of my cats from the house. When I arrived home that night, I found them sitting on the garage couch, looking dazed. After a quick hello to Don, and a less-than-genuine show of appreciation for how clean he’d gotten the house, I high-tailed it back out to be with them. I sat with them for hours, petting them, holding them, apologizing over and over.
When I finally left them, their pitiful cries ringing in my ears, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so low. I went into the house and approached Don for a consoling hug. He exploded. “Get away from me with those cat hair-covered clothes! I’ve just spent an entire day cleaning every nook and cranny of this house to make it habitable for me again, and you come in like that? Throw those clothes in the wash immediately, and take a shower.” Fuming, I protested that I was not going to change my clothes and shower every time I wanted to pet my cats. Don argued that I was certainly not going to come into the house covered with cat hair every night, either. “When you’re with the cats, wear this over your clothes.” He handed me a stained old bathrobe. “And wash your hands up to the elbow after every time you touch those death beasts.” Fuck. Once again he’d managed to find a compromise to what I considered an unbreachable impasse. And I was not happy about it. I snatched the robe from him, threw my clothes in the wash and went to bed, furious and unhugged.
The next several nights were pretty much the same. I came home, said a quick hello to Don, then headed out to the garage, put on my bathrobe and sat with my cats for the rest of the evening. The only problem was, cats are boring. I started bringing books and magazines to pass the time. Then I bought a bookcase ($179) to hold them. The next weekend, I bought a TV ($349). And I had the garage wired for cable ($150 set-up, and an extra $9.95 per month). A few days later I bought a mini-fridge ($99). It was a pain to keep getting up, taking my robe off, and washing my hands up to the elbow every time I wanted something from the kitchen.
Once I started sleeping all night on my garage couch, Don raised objections. I agreed, it wasn’t fair. So I took my cats and moved to the Oakwood apartments. Did Don think I enjoyed spending my nights in a drafty garage in an ugly bathrobe while he got the comfort of our lovely (and, without cats, shockingly clean and fresh) Spanish bungalow? But I was wracked with guilt about my cats, and every moment I was in the house without them I missed them terribly. I wasn’t happy anywhere and I blamed Don for ruining my life. Well, for once, I was solving the problem. My cats and I got a lovely, furnished one bedroom ($3120 per month, plus a $300 pet deposit). All I had to bring was my garage TV. See ya.
Two weeks later, we moved back. I reinstalled the cats in the garage and agreed to divide my time equitably between them and the now totally healthy Don. Ever gracious and reasonable, he welcomed us home. Bottom line, compromise hurts like hell, and I suck at it. But in the light of day, I realized that Don’s health improved, I was able to keep my cats, and our relationship would survive. And, as much as I adore my cats, there was clearly no way I could live without the real true love of my life – Louise, our dog.
I HATE YOU
BY DON CUMMINGS
“I hate you,” I said to Adam, my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, as I snatched a shiny silver toothpaste box from his bathroom garbage and threw it into the wicker recycling basket in the kitchen.
“I hate you more, honey” Adam smiled lovingly, not caring about recycling, as he crossed to the television to turn on an annoying cooking show.
“I hate you completely,” I gnashed completely as the glinting toothpaste box bounced off an empty wine bottle piled on top of an empty orange box of laundry detergent and black plastic broccoli trays. I picked up the blinding toothpaste box and wedged it between the orange cardboard and the side of the basket so it would not bounce out again.
Silently, Adam sat on the green sofa, watching the butter melting in the pan on the television.
This goes on many nights. I look for fault. He retreats into a world of television. I shut off lights he forgets to turn out. He blithely turns them back on as he walks down the hall to grab our outdoor cat that always breaks in, the one I am allergic to. I remember what has to be done this month so the roof won’t leak, the collectors won’t come, there will be money for retirement and I put sweet pickles on the shopping list. He forgets to buy the pickles.
I patrol and control by wagging a shiny toothpaste box.
He sits with his show, lost in a world of virtual green beans.
I wash the non-fat yogurt containers so they can be recycled.
He asks me, “Why are you always washing garbage?”
This goes on night after night. For over twelve years.
I said, “Tomorrow, I’m going to drive to Palm Springs and have sex with someone who has a worldlier, more considerate scope than you. Someone with a thicker purpose.”
“I’ll need your car.”
“I need my car.”
“Why didn’t you put the toothpaste box in the recycling? You always tell everyone how much you care about the environment and then you throw this shiny, awful box into the trash in the bathroom.”
“I hate being the recycling police.”
“Humans are the cause of entropy. We are the Armageddon. Fine. Do whatever you want like everyone else. I guess a free country means free to not care about fucking anything. You don’t care about me.”
He looked up, away from the television meal, and sweetly grimaced to let me know that I am actually a better person, in the grand scheme, than I was being at that moment. Fuck him for loving me.
I insisted. “We have to conserve. You never turn out the lights and already twice this year you left the stove on when you went to work. Are you trying to kill me?”
I retreated into myself in the dining room.
I thought, “I hate him. He’s a hypocrite. He does whatever he needs to do in the moment that requires the least amount of physical exertion. He is just like his doddering father who trips over every edge of the sidewalk because he’s too lazy to pick up his feet. He doesn’t pay attention to me. I WILL take his car tomorrow so I can have sex with someone else. Someone who is lean and picks up his feet, someone who makes an effort to use air when he speaks and will recycle and shut off the lights not only because he says he is a recycler and a conserver, but because I want him to do it.”
My house felt like a filthy prison of landfill. I needed out. I just want a rice bowl and a sturdy spoon. I just want to wear a onesy every day.
I looked for something to do that did not involve products or the television. I could have gone outside for a walk but I needed to avoid an additional spike in my cortisol level that would arise from being hit in the face with spider webs. The television blared on.
I yelled, “Put on the headphones. I don’t want to listen to that smug bitch cook.”
He put them on. I looked out the window at the palm trees.
I thought, “I could sneak out of here forever. Away from the loud television and all these scary cereal boxes. There’s all this garbage I do not want. Where are the other people like me? Oh, Jesus in the cave, I’m the minority. I’m the minority. I’m the minority. I need a break. I need something fun and pure. Like a pretty daisy or an amusement park ride at a trashy carnival. The scrambler burns diesel. I could do my part and bring a few gallons of corn oil!”
Oh, how I want to go to the carnival. Instead, I stay home and worry about waste.
“Goodnight,” he said with his hand on my left shoulder, assuring me, patting me how I don’t like to be patted.
“I love you,” he said, kissing me.
“That doesn’t change the fact that your lips are wet. I told you, I hate to kiss you when your lips are wet. It’s like, I just hate it.”
He said, “Calm down. You know how you over react to things. It was just one little box. You’ll be happy again. Tomorrow is another day.”
“Another day filled with garbage and you don’t care about it. And get those lips away from me. Don’t you hear anything I say?”
Gone. I thought about the Scrambler again. It was not enough. Then, I thought about his death. To kill your life partner over a shiny toothpaste box seemed somewhat reasonable. Though extreme, it had the snap of excitement I was looking for.
I went to the kitchen and I took out the expensive cleaver from the knife drawer and I slinked into the bedroom where my sweet little love was lying in the bed and I said to him, “Little did your mother know when she bought this for us that I would use it to chop you into pieces because she raised you to be the most hypocritical, lazy, uncaring person on earth. You should recycle.”
“Put that away.”
I said, “I’m going to chop you into pieces.”
“You can’t pull out the cleaver every time you’re mad at me.”
“The cleaver enjoys getting out. And dry your lips, no wonder they’re always chapped.”
“Leave me alone. I’m going to sleep now. Go chop someone else.”
“On one condition. Promise me you’ll recycle. Don’t throw a huge silver toothpaste box into your bathroom trash. Just save it and recycle it. Bring it into the kitchen and put it in the wicker basket. Do it for me.”
“I’ll try to remember. Goodnight, honey, I love you.”
“I hate you.”
“No you don’t,” Adam said, “We’ll have sex tomorrow and everything will be better.”
“Really?” I said. “Sex with you is at best a chore and at worst a punishment. Besides, I’m leaving you. I’m joining a carnival.”
And Adam said, “No you won’t. It’s filled with carneys.”
“I’ll leave you anyway.”
“You won’t leave me, ever, we’re too compatible.”
“We’re nothing alike. You went to a bad college. And you don’t recycle. I have to chop you into pieces.”
“Don’t chop me up.”
“I have to chop.”
“Stop chopping. You’re ridiculous. Put away that cleaver. Look at what you’ve become.”
I closed the door and I went to the kitchen to put away the cleaver. It’s a nice cleaver. It has a beautiful white handle and a leather sheath. It has only been used twice to cut up chickens. I went to the living room and looked out the picture window. The dirty cat snuck back into the house and came over to the window and looked outside with me. No carnival in sight.