It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dim light.
Located in a building at the heart of the Warehouse District in Minneapolis’s North Loop, The Nip and The Saucer caters to the best cats – and the worst – the city has to offer.
“The key,” says Liza Bean, as she beckons a server with one delicate, striped paw, “is to watch one’s manners. A glance, a gesture, the very way one holds one’s head, all of these things mean something. In an establishment catering to those of the feline persuasion, one is polite. Unless, of course, one wishes to fight.”
Liza Bean Bitey, of the Minneapolis Biteys, has sobered up considerably during the taxi ride, a 20-minute affair that includes the mysterious production of a bag of “mouse ends” (“just a little snack”) and a description, by Pupples, of the time Pupples rode all the way to the airport perched under the hood of a 2003 Cadillac Deville. (“It was winter, and the engine was warm. How was I ta know he’d be leavin’ the house again? It coulda happened to any a youse guys!”)
We’ve taken a booth at the back of the room. Our waitress, after a lift of the chin on Liza Bean’s part and a tap to the side of the nose on the waitress’s, returns quickly with a bucket of ice, a bucket of limes, and the required bottles and glasses for gin and tonics for the eight of us.
Cats love gin and tonics.
There is a light fixture at the center of the table. “What’s this?” I say, reaching for it.
Liza Bean’s paw flies out, slaps my hand quickly. “Don’t touch that.”
The lights on the stage at the front of the room come up, give off a warm, pink glow. A large white cat with the full face and assured demeanor of a Tom approaches the microphone set in the center of it.
Around the room, paws stretch for the lights at the center of the tables, rapidly press the light switch on and off, a twinkling gesture of approval.
“Ahh,” I say.
Liza Bean winks at me, green eyes sparkling, lays a paw to her lips: Shhh.
The Tom leans into the microphone. “Welcome, cats and kittens, to The Nip and The Saucer.”
I look around. Hundreds of cats sit, paws on tables, their tails flicking back and forth.
“Tonight’s first performer is a fine kit-tay from
Minneapolis. A cat without
a hat, a dish with a lisp, let’s light ‘em up for D. Gee Squeaking!”
Lights flash rapidly – and Dolly Gee Squeakers, formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers – approaches the mic.
Near the front of the stage, a bongo players begins to play.
And Dolly Gee Squeakers, aka D. Gee Squeaking, stands on her hind legs, wraps her paws around the microphone, and closes her eyes.
“I call thith one “Houthe Cat”.
She clears her tiny throat and opens her eyes.
“Houthe cat! Houthe cat?
Windowth open on a thpring day
The birdieth alight
On the roof nectht door and I am tranthficthed
A thlave to my dethire
To have them
Run through the houthe with them dangling from my jawth
And when I tire of that
I lay in a pool of thun,
Pat-thy Cline on the thtereo
Chain thmoking thigarettes
Houthe cat? Houthe cat!
Don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do.”
And D. Gee Squeaking, house cat with aspirations, leaves the stage.
And The Nip and The Saucer erupts in a blaze of blinking, twinkling lights.