Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) turned five recently.
You remember Liza Bean Bitey, don’t you?
Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) is a delightfully small cat, a symmetrically striped, tiny-pawed catcher of mice and demander of cream, a cat with a sharp tongue and a sharper fashion sense.
Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) is a cat who lures me onto the second-floor porch with casually dropped comments regarding boxes of untended chocolates, only to lock me out and steal my car.
That Liza Bean.
She turned five.
As with years prior, a celebration was planned and executed.
This year’s fete?
You’ve heard of a bar hop, yes? A pub crawl, perhaps?
Well when Liza Bean and her friends do it, it’s more of a pub slink.
Welcome to Northeast Minneapolis, affectionately known as “Nordeast”, a neighborhood full of turn-of-the-century houses, trees and sidewalks, people with multiple piercings, people who “just need a couple bucks to go home”, wonderful restaurants, and bars.
And bars. The optimal words here are “and bars”; and with a dozen bars all in easy cat-slinking distance, slink they did, until the wee hours of the morning when shouts from the neighbors regarding the calling of the police and the treatment they hoped they’d get in jail drowned out the last of the caterwauling from the alley.
The après bar is always in the alley.
Next time you’re out, watch the barroom door for a while. Watch when the door opens, down near the floor. You see that? You see those cats? Because that’s when the little buggers get in: cats of all shapes and sizes are standing nonchalantly outside the front door, smoking cigarettes, tails twitching dangerously, waiting for that moment when the door opens, whereupon they will shoot in, four and five at a time, winding around ankles, dodging the good citizens of Northeast Minneapolis and pushing their fuzzy bellies up against the bar.
“Gin and tonics!” they yowl.
It’s surprising how often it’s gin-and-tonics with cats.
And once they’re in the bar, well, you’d think they’d be discovered and thrown out, wouldn’t you? But you’d be wrong. Cats are not only notoriously generous tippers but they are also fabulous dancers.
“Cats? In my bar? Not here, officer. Not on my watch.”
Nothing gets a crowd going (and drinking and tipping) more than a group of hep cats. Twitter updates streak through the ether, FaceBook pages updated feverishly whenever the cool cats show up; and the good bartenders know this.
Confetti was thrown, tangos danced, flaming shots of imported liquors thrown back amongst cheers in many languages, all of it culminating in an impromptu jam session after the bars closed, atop the garage as the members of A Band of Biteys wailed complex, passionate music toward cold, glittering stars.
A cat only turns five once.
She thanked me the next day, knowing the work I’d put in in contacting her friends for the party. I demurred, of course, but she waved me off. “Little something for you, on the porch,” she said. I lifted one eyebrow. “No, no,” she said dismissively. “Nothing untoward, I assure you.”
I stepped on to the second-floor porch to find three exquisite pieces of Belgian chocolate.
And the door wasn’t locked when I stepped back in.
I tried to thank her for the gift, of course, but she was already curled up, purring contentedly, eyes closed, on the end of my bed.
The little bugger.
Happy birthday, Bitey. Sweet, semi-drunken dreams.
You can read more about Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) and Dolly Gee Squeakers (formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers) under “The Cats Have a Secret Life”, over there on the right, near the bottom.
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