I am very poor, because I’m a writer. If you are thinking about a career as a writer, let me maybe possibly advise you against it. Maybe consider a more lucrative career, such as delivering pizza, selling drugs, or taking off your clothes for money, which I would totally consider except for my lack of a six-pack.
As a writer, I live in the squalid basement of a house. Every day I wake up in the squalid, gloomy, hopeless basement, and then go to my “writing office,” which is a garage with a broken chair and desk in it. The garage also has a beehive in it. This is nice, because I am terrified of bees, so it keeps me alert and on my toes, the massive beehive does — so much better than a latte. Sometimes I try to kill the bees, which enrages the bees, and ends with me rushing outside of the garage, shrieking “why oh god oh god why.”
On good days, my quasi-girlfriend comes by to visit me. My not-really-girlfriend comes from a rich family, has an “amusing” job in interior design, and is — essentially, rich. Though of course most people are rich in comparison to me.
I get very sad and bored, when alone in my garage, and end up talking to myself, saying things like, “Wtf,” and “why.” So my girlfriend takes me out on the town. Since I am lonely, she takes me to look at cats, with the idea that she would get me a cat, and thus I can pour my radiant hopeless affection onto an object, instead of talking pathetically to the walls of my garage like I do.
Looking at cats involves going to the pound. I have sad memories of the pound from childhood and from watching Lady and the Tramp two thousand times, but the pound where we go is actually very nice. The cats live together in large group rooms, with toys, and television. By having televisions, the cats are clearly in a higher economic bracket than I am, since I haven’t had one for years. The televisions are set to endless videos of
(3) Other cats, sometimes intercut with birds.
This seems like a sweet deal to me, and many a time I have considered the viability of dressing up as a cat and sneaking my way into the pound, since they have TVs there. “Hey, do you mind if we change this to Girls,” I would say to the other cats. “Everyone bitches about it and I’ve never seen it, so I want to so I can complain about it.” The other cats would then roll over on their backs, confused, or stare out emptily into the open air.
The problem with the pound is there are too many cats. There are at least ninety cats. This is too many — especially for me, who has panic attacks in department stores from all the choices on tap. I like thrift stores better. In a thrift store, if you can find a single shirt in your size that isn’t covered in crud, then that’s the shirt that you get. The lack of selection makes everything so easy. But in department stores, I act like a recent immigrant from Eastern Slovakia, circa 1989 — “So many choices,” I say. “Too many choices.” And then I end up huddled in the corner by the entrance to the bathroom.
And so this is what happens to me in the pound with my sort-of-girlfriend–
There are cats in the pound. Too many cats. Cute cats, less cute cats. White cats black cats multicolored cats too many cats cats cats cats. To hold one black cat in your lap is to be in love. But wait! Over there! A slightly more compelling black cat! Oh noes, this one’s meow is slightly displeasing. Oh wait, this one is too shy, this one is too needy aaaaaaaaaaah.
…Is what happens to me at the pound. If there were two cats, I would pick the better one and save it and bring it to a better life, in a shed with bees, with no TV but with my constant love.
What happens is that we leave catless, and then I overthink and regret things.
“You know, that black cat was pretty okay.”
“But you didn’t love it, Oliver,” the not-really a girlfriend says.
Then I try to talk myself into it: “I sort of loved it.”
“I didn’t completely love it unconditionally I guess. But maybe…”
So what happens is that we go to the pound, over and over again. And then it happened. Finally I saw the cat. The cat of cats. The Ur-cat, the ultima thule of cats. I will attempt to draw this cat now:
The cat was slim, orange-y, cremesicle-y, marmalade-y, but with a PUFFY TAIL. Skinny and tiny but with a PUFFY TAIL, my ideal cat. And he wanted to play; and play and play, oh kitty!
The cat’s name was “Bilbo,” which I was not happy with. One: nerdy. Two: I don’t like giving pets cute animal names, like Bilbo, or Puff, or Puffy. Animals should get real names, not fake ones. So I instead instantly decided that I would rename the cat “Jack.” A firm, noble name.
Then, here’s what happened. Cats in the pound vary according to price, which is based on some sort of complex adorability-matrix. Being awesome and a genius, I had of course picked out the best most adorable cat. But the best most adorable cat cost ninety-five dollars.
I didn’t have $95. But my semi-girlfriend did.
“I am not buying the most expensive cat.”
“But he’s the best cat!”
“Yes,” she said, for this was true. “He is the best cat. But some of the cats here are $25. Some of the cats here are free.”
“But they’re not Jack!!!!” I screamed, for I had already renamed him. “They’re sucky cats and they suck!”
So what happens is, we keep going back to the pound. Jack is still there. I sit and talk with him sometimes. But the semi-girlfriend holds firm. $95 dollars is a waste of money. I think that this is crazy. Cats live for thirteen years or something. $95 is like seven bucks a year. Twenty cents a month!
“It makes no sense not to buy him at that price. It’s less than Netflix! It’s an investment!”
So we keep creepily returning to the pound, cruising the aisles, looking for a bargain-basement cat that I will love as much as Jack. It’s not going to happen. Instead there is a cat-shaped void in my heart:
I know that this is all my fault for being poor, via choosing a career path that pays seven cents an hour. I would start a Kickstarter or something to get Jack, but I’m too busy writing shitty self-reflective essays all the time.
Anyway, we keep returning to the pound. When you see the perfect thing, you can’t un-see it. Did you ever see like the perfect pair of shoes in a store, but they cost $190 dollars and you’re like, “That’s ridiculous, all that for shoes.” So you buy the $62 dollar shoes instead, and you hate them. You can’t even judge the shoes on their merits anymore: they might be quite fine as shoes, but you’re just haunted by the Memory of the Shoes That Could Have Been; the shoes that you should have gotten, if only you were a little braver, a little stronger. Well; that’s how I feel about this thing, except it’s not shoes, it’s a cat.
So I will probably return longingly to the pound many more times, while trying to save enough money for my Ur-cat. In the meantime, I will be here in my shed with the broken desk, being attacked by bees, all the time thinking of what could have been.