Saturday, March 03, 2007

just call me Jennifer Aniston

I just had another run-in with my ex, and it's always so painful... at least for me. All my bitterness (what, I wasn't good enough for him? I gave him so many years! I gave him the world on a plate!) welled up, as always.

It's so painful to be dumped, to be left for someone better. I'm the Jennifer Aniston of this love triangle, and like poor Jen reminded by the tabloids and glossies of her usurper, I'm reminded by everyone in the neighborhood of my successor.

You see, it started fairly innocuously. He just stayed out a lot, and then he started staying out all night. When he came home, he acted like nothing was wrong, but a woman can tell when the object of her affections has fallen for someone else.

It just went downhill from there. Bob started spending whole weekends away, returning home late Monday morning as though nothing had happened. "What's the matter, boy, your new love gone to work?" I'd say bitterly. Mondays through Fridays, he was around a lot with me and the children, but on the weekends, he was with his new significant other.

After I hadn't seen him for days, I worried that something had happened to Bob, and I went to see a neighbor, a friend of Bob's.

"Have you seen Bob?" I asked. "He's missing!"

"But he was sitting on the sidewalk in front of your house just this morning," said the neighbor. The children and I went home, bemused. We were glad to know he was okay, but why was he avoiding us?

A week later, we were driving home from Iris's preschool, and I saw Bob lounging in the sun on the sidewalk. I pulled the car over recklessly, leaped out, grabbed him, and crammed him into the car. "Bob! Bob!" the children cried ecstatically. Bob looked pissed off. When we got home, I had to shove him into the house. I closed off the catdoor and called my husband: "We found Bob!" Bob refused to sit on his favorite pieces of furniture or interact with us; he just walked about, lashing his tail. The moment our vigilance lapsed, he was gone.

At this point, I decided to face reality and get another cat. After all, I'd obtained Bob easily enough at the pound a few years before (the ingrate, he'd been at the pound for over three months before I adopted him. No one else wanted a middle-aged, obese tabby with an oddly undersized head and weirdly scarred ears with chunks missing). After a few weeks of browsing the local shelters, we ended up adopting a petite black cat via Craigslist, whom Iris named Rachel.

Somehow Bob sensed the arrival of Rachel. "You didn't manage your break-up very well," observed Anton critically. It was clearly one of those bad boyfriend scenarios, where the other person doesn't want you until he sees with his own eyes that somone else finds you desirable. Bob moved back in, intent upon driving Rachel out of the house.

So then we had two cats, two cats who hated each other. I was glad Bob was back, but I knew he still had another significant other somewhere nearby, and I was determined to find out who the other party in this love triangle was. I was pretty sure what street my competition lived on, but I didn't know which building.

Eventually the other party had the nerve to approach me, when I was out on a walk with my toddlers and our errant Bob. John, a pleasant enough older gay man on the other side of our block, accosted us and said, "Is that your cat? He spends a lot of time here at my house. I haven't seen him lately; I miss him." "So THAT'S my competition," I thought. Bob, who was at that point in time given to taking walks with me, went home with me as though nothing had happened. I cracked open a can of tuna (in my insecurity, I had taken to upping the food ante. "You do realize this is pathetic, don't you?" remarked one friend critically as I served endless amounts of tuna. It's a wonder the cat didn't succumb to mercury poisoning).

I took to calling John as "the cat-stalker", especially after he asked me, "Do you have another cat, a little black one?" referring to Rachel. "Get your own damn cats," I muttered to myself (I didn't want to start a neighborhood war, so I didn't say this to John in person). I complained to everyone who would listen that John was trying to take my cat away from me "and why doesn't he just go down to the pound and get his own cat? It's not as if there is a shortage."

To this day, I have to wonder about what treats John had to offer. I was churning out the tuna, but was he serving caviar laced with heroin? Once again, Bob started spending more and more time away... until really he wasn't my cat any more. At some point, John bought him a new collar, but tactfully wrote my phone number on it. At some even later point, John got Bob yet another collar (Bob is prone to losing collars) and wrote his own phone number on it.

Every once in a blue moon, Bob stops by. Once when I was downstairs in the middle of the night, losing my battle with insomnia, I ran into Bob, who looked guilty and left quickly. It wasn't much different than the occasions when I run into the raccoon who comes into our house at night to eat leftover cat food.

Just the other day, a neighbor asked me, "Do you still have that cat, Bob?" I had to admit I hadn't seen him, and the neighbor said, knowingly, "Ah, he's at John's." So tactless! John, the victor in this love triangle, isn't above gloating, either. One day we ran into him and he offered to let us in so we could visit Bob. "He's just sleeping on my bed," said John, practically rubbing his hands together with glee. "He's spending a lot of time at home lately."

The ingratitude is amazing. Aside from rescuing him from the pound (and Bob was remarkably affectionate for the first several months, until his memory of the pound faded), I also paid a fortune in vet's bills for him. Given to fighting, Bob met his match in a cat with a similar history: an overweight black cat, also adopted from the pound, named "Fatty Tuna." Bob and Fatty Tuna were unable to reach an accord or establish a pecking order, and the result was multiple injuries and the occasional, expensive abscess. I made it my life's goal to find Fatty Tuna's owner and sort it out, and in the Great Cat Treaty of 2001, it was decided that Bob would spend the mornings outside and Fatty Tuna would rule the afternoons. (Later Fatty Tuna's building was sold and his evicted owners took Fatty into exile in Oakland, leaving Bob to rule our block in unquestioned majesty). On another occasion, I bailed Bob out of trouble when he bit a neighbor. The neighbor's husband sounded extremely litigious, demanding a record of Bob's vaccinations and saying things such as, "So you don't know where he was before you adopted him and you can't say what he was exposed to?" in the tone of one who intended to file complaints with all relevant authorities. I ran out and purchased a huge and expensive arrangement of flowers, which was delivered promptly with a note picturing a large tabby almost identical to Bob, begging the woman's forgiveness. The flowers did their work, and ever after that, the bitten woman faithfully sent Bob the cat a Christmas card.

After all that shared history, I felt resentful over being dumped.... more resentful than over anything my ex-husband ever did to me in our divorce. My oldest daughter too, has been traumatized. She's forever insecure that our pets will leave us, and I'm a little nervous about the effect this will have on her future romantic relationships.

Since Bob left, we have acquired Al, a dimwitted orange cat who is, according to three vets, allergic to his own teeth, and Frowsty, an extraordinarily fluffy and charismatic animal, as well as Rachel, a small, black cat with the drama and dignity of a true diva. Bob still stops by once in a while, treating the new cats with disdain. Pathetically enough, not long ago I broke open a can of tuna for him and called the girls down to see him. Today, though, I just ignored him and he ignored me, as he walked through the back door to see what food was readily available. "Fucker," I thought. "You're just here to use me for the tuna."


hughman said...

lol. i got half-way through this post when i finally (duh) understood you were talking about a cat. so i had to start over with my newly realized knowledge, relieved your x-husband didn't disappear for the weekend and act like nothing had happened.

cats act extremely entitled in my experience.

Silliyak said...

Our local shelter puts assesments of the cats personalities in their files. The cat before Lily was described as "Opinionated". We were not sure what that meant. We learned. Sounds like Bob was similarly Opinionated.

Silliyak said...

I'm with Hughman, I was getting really righteously indignant for you until "Oh, it's THE CAT"

the Drunken Housewife said...

I wrote it that way on purpose. I was going to keep it up longer, but I didn't want to jerk anyone's emotions around too much. BUT... I have been much better to Bob than I have been to my husband! I treated that cat like gold! He is the biggest fucking ingrate ever!

the Drunken Housewife said...

p.s. I am more bitter about this than my actual divorce!

hughman said...

also, DH, while your neighbor does share angelina's habit of trying to adopt everything in sight, unlike jennifer aniston i can only assume you are the much much more exotic one in this relationship. bob just found someone who could be his bitch 24/7 and not be distracted by things like "kids" and "husbands" and "a life".

Anonymous said...

C'mon, DH - you foster cats! You should know what fickle creatures they are!

I'm actually on the other side of the triangle (somewhat). When I bought my house and was remodeling it, Miss Kitty came waltzing over, said, "Hey, this looks great! I'm moving in with you!" and then patiently waited for me to actually move in so she could join me. While she didn't have an actual home (she lived in a shed in someone's backyard), there was a woman who had cared for her, taken her to the vet on a regular basis, and had seen that her kittens had been adopted. She was frantic when Miss Kitty went AWOL, and it took her a couple of months to find out about me. She was actually ecstatic when she found out that Miss Kitty was living with me, as she had tried, unsuccessfully, to find her a home several times. (She couldn't adopt Miss Kitty herself, because Miss Kitty HATES dogs, and she had two of them.)

While I know the Miss Kitty loves us, I wouldn't doubt for a second that she'd move on should a better offer come along. Ha! She'd have a hard time topping our household!

At least you can take consolation in the fact that you have other, wonderful felines in your life.

JKG said...

Shameless. I was feeling real sympathy for you until I got to the end of the fourth paragraph.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Jim, I'm more scarred by Bob dumping me than I am my actual divorce. I'm not sure what that says about me...

Trouble said...

Okay, that was the best fucking post ever.

Although I have had men try to use me for the tuna, too.

That phrase may have to work its way into my female vocabulary..."Dump him, girl, he's just using you for the tuna."

Anonymous said...

That was one of the funniest things I've read on the internet. It belongs in the Best of the Drunken Housewife.

Carol Ann (aka nmitford)

Anonymous said...

Ah, stomatitis. Poor Al. My Maggie first had symptoms at age 4. She's 10 now. Most of her back teeth have been pulled. We (the vet and I) think that having her teeth cleaned every three months will allow her to keep the rest. She's the most spoiled, adorable cat, and actually is quite content.

Anonymous said...

I just read the first few lines and had to stop in disgust. "It's always painful to be left for someone BETTER?" You think he left you for someone BETTER than you? The man was an idiot. Even as a collection of nouns and verb delivered to my computer electronically, I feel I know you well enough to look at your ex-husband and give him a metaphorical raspberry. You're fabulous, babe, enjoy the fact you got away!

Anonymous said...

er...ignore my last comment. i am so embarrassed....


the Drunken Housewife said...

I was just about to email you and tell you to try again!

I promise you, I am not bitter about my actual divorce and do not regard his skanky, allegedly lesbian coworker as better than me.

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GEB123 said...


Wow, this piece reminds me of how I had breast cancer and I had to get a double mastectomy and how I suffered through chemo and JOKE, it was gumball in my sweater!

Great piece, Carole, very sensitive to other's pain.