I was told recently that the best scene columns are about sex and drugs. Because I am an innovator, this week I am going to write about the farthest thing away from sex and drugs, the opposite of sex and drugs, that which is neither sex nor drugs — kittens.
Kittens are cats when they are young. Before your cat becomes pissy and recalcitrant, it goes through a kind of larval stage where it is really cute and stretchy. Kittens can be found on Lisa Frank pencils and in the hearts of children everywhere.
Or so I thought. In fact, kittens are more like the Yeerks from the Animorphs series. Their furry little bodies twist their way down your ear canal and latch onto your brain, taking over your thoughts and actions with their cuteness. Don’t think they’re helpless or pure; they’ll get what they want, and what they want is to control you.
My brother was just acquired by a pair of kittens, and the damage has already been grave and, I fear, irreversible. The kittens are named Hustle and Flo, and they are easy on the eyes. In ancient times, when an important princess or queen went past on her palanquin, men would kill themselves to show how beautiful they thought she was. My brother’s kittens are like that, only the men are fourth graders and lonely, middle-aged women.
My brother’s life now consists of making sure that the kittens exist in a state of constant bliss. When I called him the other night, he told me I had to wait because it was dinner time.
“Oh, sorry, I’ll call back later.”
“No no, we just need to make sure we’ve got clean plates.”
“Licky licky time, Hustleface.”
“Oh wow, I really didn’t mean to interrupt — ”
“Hustle hasn’t been finishing her salmon lately. I fear she’s becoming despondent.”
I should provide some background on my brother. At this time last year, he dressed up as Courtney Love, broke into a random room on Old Campus and announced he would sing the entirety of “Pretty on the Inside” to its terrified occupants. Apparently he broke down in tears halfway through “Teenage Whore,” and they were able to force him out.
Now when I relate stories of drugs and sex, my brother calls them “interesting,” my family’s euphemism of choice for my scene columns. When I bring up drinking, he says that he “only has a little red wine with dinner; it makes the little ones nervous when I drink.” He called two weeks ago to inform me triumphantly that both Hustle and Flo had been accepted to what is considered the best kitten socialization class in the five boroughs.
“Well, thank God,” I said, “I don’t know if I could love an antisocial kitten.”
There was an icy silence.
“Steven, I will love them no matter what they do. No matter what they become.”
After this exchange, I decided two things: first, what my brother actually had was a pair of trainer babies, and, second, I needed to take immediate action to set things right. So I ventured down to Brooklyn to save my brother from the doom of premature domesticity.
Mind you, I came prepared. If a sack of guts covered in fur, however soft and pettable, was thrust into my arms, my plan was to find the nearest computer and pull up “Two Girls One Cup” or the one with the eels and the funnel. I would make sex jokes and talk about Britney Spears until the offending item was removed.
But nothing could have saved me once I walked through the door. It was an ambush. When God spoke to Elijah it was not through the earthquake or the firestorm, but in a still, small voice. I’m pretty sure that voice was the sound a kitten makes when it is abruptly confined to the space between a wall and a door.
I shut the door. Flo tumbled down and, instead of reproaching me, exposed her belly to be petted. I didn’t want to do it. I tried to think of all the people I don’t like — people who ride scooters, people who try to talk to me before noon, Elisabeth Hasselbeck. The belly undulated softly. I petted it.
Flo spoke: “Do good things! Take care of yourself! Love everyone! Don’t watch scat films and send them to panlists!”
Hustle appeared, and they began to wrestle. Kittens wrestling is like watching a baby being born only without all the gross stuff.
My brother put on some smooth jazz and opened a Merlot. We watched the kittens play, followed by two episodes of This Old House. We went to bed at a reasonable hour. As I was lulled to sleep by the sound of a kitten purring, I decided that I would dedicate my life to helping others, regardless of the opportunity cost or degree of personal sacrifice.
The next day on my Metro-North ride home an homeless man spat a half-chewed Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkin onto the seat next to me. I asked him if he was alright. He told me to “go suck shit.”
Steven Kochevar iz in ur seen, writin a columm.