I don’t know why everyone’s yelling anyway. What’s happened to civility? What’s happened to quiet enjoyment? What’s happened to someone bringing me coffee and showing my hangover the respect it deserves?
For those of you who have yet to note this day on your calendars, yesterday was Liza Bean Bitey’s birthday.
That’s Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys): small-pawed defeater of mice, demander of cream, symmetrically striped bed hog.
As in previous years, we marked the occasion with a bit of celebration; and I am pleased to announce that, this time, we managed to keep the police out of it.
“I just adore a good gin and tonic, don’t you?”
I don’t know what it is about cats and gin, but it seems every cat I’ve ever known drinks gin and tonics.
Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) is in excellent form tonight. Resplendent in her “dress” collar – the black velvet one with the rhinestone mousies – she leans back expansively, holding court in the corner booth.
The waitress returns again and again, telling jokes, checking our drinks. Cats are notoriously heavy tippers; and while often technically under the legal drinking age – and never in possession of proper identification – the best bars turn a blind eye to the legalities.
The door opens. A lone man walks in – and hot on his heels, four cats shoot in.
They’ve been coming in, three and four at a time. Keeping to the edges of the room, casting fuzzy, nebulous shadows, leaping to the bar and ordering yet more gin and tonics, the corner booth is soon crawling with patrons of the feline persuasion.
Porkmuscle J. Hamfat raises a glass. Pupples McBean, ever at his side, raises his as well. “To The Bitey!”
Various forms of assent, from “Hear! Hear!” to vocalizations more properly confined to alleys, join together as glasses are raised, and then drained, to Liza Bean Bitey.
“Thank you, thank you,” she purrs. She steps to the center of the table, stands on her hind legs. “And while I have you here, I’d like to make a small announcement.”
The crowd erupts.
“You’re running for President!”
“The Grand Jury came back with a no-bill!”
“You’ve decided to become a Tom!”
Liza Bean laughs indulgently. These are her cats; and their upturned, shiny-eyed faces speak of love and secrets, conspiracies and history.
“For some time now, I’ve relied on the beneficence of my friend Pearl here.” From her position at the center of the booth, Liza Bean looks down upon me, smiling.
I raise my hand in acknowledgement: “Hi.” A sea of waving, flicking tails responds in kind.
“The truth is that this has begun to wear on me. To continually be at the mercy of someone else’s whims, to rely on their grocery list –“
Several voices lift from the crowd of cats now surrounding the booth: “The good shrimp!!”
Liza Bean smiles, black lips parting to show even, white teeth. “Exactly. The good shrimp.” She lifts her drink, finishes it. The waitress is at her side immediately with two more drinks – one for her, and one for me. Liza Bean slips a $5 into her hand without missing a beat.
“And so! A small announcement.”
I set my drink down, reach into my purse and open my book, the book I carry for just such announcements.
“I’ve taken a job.”
The cry goes up, in unison. “MRRRROW???”
Liza Bean squeezes a lime into her drink, stirs with one delicately extended claw, and sips. “I’ve taken a job at the Department of Motor Vehicles.”
Twenty-seven cats go silent in anticipation.
“I start Monday,” she says, smiling. She raises her glass. “To legal identification for all!”
The room explodes as 27 cats throw the rest of their drinks down their throats then smash their empty glasses on the floor. A distraught waitress appears immediately, and Liza Bean slips another $5 into her hand, whispers in her ear.
The waitress smiles.
Liza Bean leans over, shouts into my ear. “The après-bar will be held in the attic,” she yells. “The cleaning crew I’ve hired promises to have it spotless by the time you return home from work Wednesday.”
She runs one side of her whiskered little face along my own, and I smile. Dang cat.
“Happy birthday, Liza Bean,” I shout.
And Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) reaches a paw out, accepts another drink from a smiling, slightly sweaty waitress.
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