This morning I went to the Humane Society of New York, in Manhattan, to meet a cat I had only glimpsed a couple of weeks before. Dennis and I were looking for a de-clawed adult cat and those are hard to come by. The morning I went in two weeks ago, they’d just received one male de-clawed cat and I was able to see him for just a second. Today I went in again to maybe take him home. But first I had to meet him and see if we “clicked.”. I thought I’d give you an idea of how the morning went meeting “Tigris.”
Act One: Depression
Humane Society of New York, 59th Street. Small office. Enter GINA. TWO DEPRESSED CATS are in the office. H.S. WORKER introduces GINA to TWO DEPRESSED CATS.
HSW: They’re both de-clawed, you know.
Gina: Oh yeah? Hm. She pets ONE DEPRESSED CAT. CAT is sluggish and seems congested. What happened to them?
HSW: They were brought in a week or so ago. Feeling low these days. Came from a great family, but the family was moving or something.
Gina: Oh, that’s so sad. Turning to the ONE DEPRESSED CAT: Oh, buddy. You’re so sad, huh?
ODC: Oh you have no idea. Woe is fucking me, right? All this plus a sinus infection. I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding me. My brother over there hasn’t slept in five days. He’s like hallucinating. I’m all, dude, if you don’t watch it they’re gonna ax you.
Gina: But this is a no-kill shelter.
ODC: That’s what they say.
Gina: No. It really is no-kill.
ODC: Hm. Whatevs. [Shuts eyes and puts head down.]
HSW: Honestly I think Tigris is a better match for you.
Gina: Really? Why’s that?
HSW: Eh, because he’s not depressed. He’s a great guy, really. I think you’re really gonna like him. Just kind of laid back and fun.
Gina: Okay. I guess let me meet him.
Exit HSW with TWO DEPRESSED CATS out of the office. GINA looks around the tiny room, noticing various cat things: toys, litter box, scratch post, etc. GINA grows unsure about the whole thing. What if the cat doesn’t like her? What if the cat pees all over the apartment? Her nerves build until she has almost convinced herself she will not get a cat today.
Act Two: “Aloha and Hello”
Enter HSW with TIGRIS, de-clawed male Tabby. He is large and in charge. HSW places TIGRIS on the desk in front of GINA.
Gina: Hi, Tigris!
Tigris: [pauses, sniffs Gina, pauses again…] How YOU doin’? [rubs his face on her hand.]
Gina: [smiles] Hi. I see you have a sense of humor. Watch “Friends” ever?
Tigris: They based the character Joey on me, you know. Sensitive yet seductive.
Gina: I see. So tell me about yourself, Tigris.
Tigris: First of all, I hate the name. I don’t even respond to it, so please. No “Tigris.” Something a little more masculine, perhaps, I don’t know.
Gina: Alright, well, I’ll think about it. I can’t just come up with a name on the spot. But Dennis and I were thinking something along the lines of “‘Cooper.” Or “Tim Riley.” Either one of those sound good to you?
Tigris: At this point, I’ll take anything.
Gina: Alright. We’ll think things over. So, uh, what kinds of things are you into?
Tigris: Food, mostly. [chuckles] You can see I’m somewhat of a calorie connoisseur. Before I landed here in the joint I was really into crab cakes. Nice Maryland blues…you know? Mmm, cook ’em up, a little white wine, a little horseradish for a kick…[smacks his lips] ahhh! Now that’s cookin’! [Looks around the room, says underbreath] the food here ain’t so great. It’s food, and I eat it, [looks at his belly again] clearly, but I sure miss the grill, I tell you.
Gina: Well you look healthy to me. Happy, bright eyes, all that kind of stuff.
Tigris: Yeah, I’m a low-maintenance kinda guy. I don’t require much: place to sleep, place to do my thing, you know, place to chill. You got other cats?
Gina: No, it’d just be you.
Tigris: Big place?
Gina: It’s actually kind of small. One bedroom, one bathroom. Decent sized kitchen.
Tigris: What kind of rent you payin’?
Gina: More than I’d like, but I think it’s worth it.
Tigris: Rent these days, I swear. I been able to save a few bucks living here–[chuckling]–that’s the one good thing about this place! Utilities included?
Gina: Yep, most of them.
Tigris: Good, good. That’s good. What’s over there? [jumps down, sniffs around the room.] Ech. The guys who were in here before me left this place a mess!
Gina: They were a little depressed, I think.
Tigris: Yeah, but still! It’s not so bad living here, why they gotta go messin’ it up for everyone else? You keep house better than this?
Tigris: Okay. So what else you wanna know?
Gina: Well, I mean, are you into toys and stuff like that? I mean, will you play?
Tigris: I’ll tell ya–what’s your name?
Tigris: Nice name. I got an aunt with that name. I’ll tell ya, Gina, I’m a big ticket item kinda guy. Aluminum foil balls are fun, but every once in a while I like the store bought stuff, I’m not gonna lie. Those fake mice things are awesome. Shiny things—you know, those balls with the crinkly stuff and all colorful? Fun times. I do like to get out and play.
Gina: Okay, that’s good to know. I picked up a few things—a couple of those mice—at the store.
Tigris: No kidding!
Gina: I swear. Hey, here’s a ball. You wanna play? [rolls it to Tigris]
Tigris: Alright! [catches the ball, swats it back.] You know, the last place I was in, the place before this one, that was a—-pardon the French—-fuckin’ mad house. Cats screamin’ all over the place, people stickin’ their fingers in the cages. And the food? Christ. It was like cafeteria food. Disgusting.
Gina: [rolling ball back to Tigris.] You were somewhere before here?
Tigris: [catching ball, thinking for a minute, replying thoughtfully] I was a lucky one, I gotta tell ya. Some of those cats never came out. In for a couple a weeks and then in the middle of the night they disappear. In the morning, there’s fresh fish. I tell ya. Cats went nuts in there. So sad. [Rolls ball back to Gina]
Gina: So how’d you get out?
Tigris: Some lady came in, liked what she saw, brought me here. I dunno why. I guess I showed her my seductive side. I’ve been here ever since.
Gina: Two weeks, just about. [sends ball back to Tigris]
Tigris: Yep. [kicks it to the side.] I’m done with this game. What else ya got?
Gina: Do you like TV?
Tigris: Do I? I been going crazy since I got in here. I was just finishing up Season Four of The Office, and right before the last episode, they scooped me up and took me away. First couple nights in the other place I was so damn mad about missing my show I took a swipe at a couple of people. You have no idea how often they do that kind of thing.
Gina: You like “The Office”?
Tigris: Are you kidding? Couple a cats in the old place nicknamed me Big Tuna.
Gina: After Jim.
Tigris: Yeah. You gotta love that guy. You gotta favorite?
Gina: Dwight, I think.
Tigris: I love to hate him. Did you ever see–
Gina:–the British version?! yes!
Tigris: Takes me a while to figure out the accent, though. The Scranton accent’s much easier.
Enter HSW Official: How are things going in here?
Gina: They’re good, I think! I’d like to take him home with me.
HSW Official: Great! I’ll get the paperwork started! [She exits.]
Gina: [to Tigris] That okay?
Tigris: That’s awesome! How are we gonna get to your house?
Gina: I’ll hail a cab I guess. You know they have TVs in cabs now?
Tigris: Seriously? This is gonna be great.