Scaredy Cat from Ballarat, I mean Budapest


I don’t like to excercise in front of people. I mean, who wants someone looking at you while you contort your body into strange shapes and make weird faces from all the effort? I have the same thought process for sex with the lights on, but let’s not go there. I also don’t believe in having to pay money for exercise. Or sex. I mean you can excercise plenty for free at home. Sure, I may not have sophisticated weight machines in my house, or someone who’s studied PE at some obscure training college in Dorset for a couple of months so they can be qualified to sit on a bike in front of me telling me to peddle faster, but there’s bound to be something heavy I can lift up and down for a while at home, like the couch for instance!! Ok yeah whatever, sure, that’s not really true. I don’t have a couch.

Anyway, if I have to be exercising I prefer jogging to a gym, and I use the word prefer loosely. If I had my way, I’d do neither. But getting back to the point, I recently discovered the best time to go jogging is 7am on a Saturday morning, because that’s when there’s nobody around. What the hell was I doing jogging at such a god awful stoopid time you ask? Weeeeellll, it all started at 4am. With the cat. Well not my cat, the girlfriend’s cat…

Oh, I hate the word girlfriend. I find it really hard to say, like the Fonze every time he tried to say the word “wrong”. My mouth sort of gets stuck, I’m all “she’s my… this is my… we’re… the girl I live with… my housemate, yes that’s right, she’s my housemate, in my one bedroom apartment”. I don’t know why, but I just can’t say the word. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had one before, a relationship I mean. Or a girlfriend. But I think I would struggle with the word boyfriend too, were I that way enamored.

So anyway, the cat who belongs to the girl who sleeps pretty closely to me every night, recently came to live with us from Hungary. All evidence points to the fact that the term “scaredy cat” was invented exclusively for her. I’ve never seen a more nervous cat. She leaps away from the slightest noise and if you look like the thought of touching her is even forming in your deepest inner subconscious self, she does the most amazing impression of a cartoon cat you’ve ever seen, arching her back to the heavens and hissing like, well hissing like a cartoon cat. But Scaredy’s hissing ends with one extra hiss for good measure, and it seems to float out of her mouth and sail toward you as if it were verbal vapour. She’s nothing if not dramatic.

A week went by and I thought we were actually doing well. When the girl who puts her dirty clothes in my washing basket was around the cat would let me pat her, but only her head, anywhere else and you’d be hissed at and slapped with a warning paw, claws out but not breaking the skin. Fine ok, as long as you tell me the rules, we can work with this. But then three things happened.

Number one – the clothes horse fell over next to the cat, making a racket and almost clipping her as she ran scardily past it. For the rest of the day she cowered under the duvet cover. I made that happen, so as far as she’s concerned I was trying to kill her with the washing.

I think she sees the toy mouse as somehow helping her keep her cat dignity

Number two – a few days later I lifted a suitcase up to put back on top of the cupboards and as I turned it 90 degrees to get a better grip, the cat yelped and tumbled out through the slightly open zipper, where she had obviously been hiding from the evils of the world that must have been out to get her that day. That was me trying to luggage her to death.

Number three – it’s 4am and the girl who parades around the apartment naked a lot and I are awoken to what sounds like a whole neighborhood of cats tearing each other apart. But it’s only Scaredy Cat and she’s got herself caught in the top of the radiator, hanging by the claw of one back foot, screaming in pain and confusion, thrashing herself from left to right, banging against the radiator like a big, black, furry metronome. The girl who I miss desperately when she goes away is still half asleep and half blind because her contacts are out, so she just sees a fuzzy black blob and doesn’t quite know what’s going on. The horrible noise the cat is emitting is making my adrenalin run, I’m actually scared for her well-being, she sounds like she’s in so much pain, so I lunge at her, ignore the claws digging into my hand and scratching my arm and try to lift her even a little so her leg will come free. Which it does. And she is.

What the cat looks like when she has her balance

She hasn’t told me herself, but I’m guessing the cat now thinks I’m the devil. She associates me with that 30 seconds of untold pain and horror and since there’s only 4 rooms in the apartment and I occupy space in all of them, the cat now lives in the litter box. It has a lid on it so I guess she figures that’s the only place I won’t be able to invade. She ventures out at night when she knows I’m likely to be asleep and sometimes even during the day she wonders into whatever room I’m in, but she stops dead still when she sees me, stares at me intently like I might drop something heavy and noisy in her direction, then droops her tail and she slowly slinks back to the litter box.

Well after that 4am trauma I couldn’t go back to sleep, my hands were shaking and I think I was actually in shock. Part of me also thought the cat might want to take a breather from sitting in the litter box for three hours, so at 7am I gave her some space and went to the park. I had recently read that as well as all the things I’m going to have to abstain from to help with this IBS thing, a key element to tummy health is regular exercise. Well der Fred!

So I’ve started running again. Or should I say jogging? Or should I say shuffling? Or should I say moving in a forward direction at a pace that can no longer be technically defined as walking? And when I went out at 7am last week, getting back to my proclamation in paragraph one, the park was gloriously deserted, all but for one lone Chinese lady in a pink tracksuit and peaked visor who looked about 60 and who I’m certain lapped me at least twice.

Whatever lady, you’ve obviously had more practice than me.

Uggh. How do you explain to a cat that you saved it, that you didn’t hurt it, that you’re not a giant, evil, noisy assassin? What if it all continues to go pear shaped, what if the cat and the girl whose toothbrush I use if I can’t find mine have to move out because Scaredy develops a nervous disorder from my presence and all her fur falls out? And then her teeth.Is your girlfriend (arrrrrrgghhh) moving out because her cat hated you like the most embarrassing thing that can ever happen to a lesbian? Is it like the ultimate tragedy in a gay relationship? Will I be ridiculed at the local neighborhood lesbian meetings?

What? They have those right? No? Ok. Well, we’ll see pussy, we’ll see.

She reads in Hungarian, and normally needs a bit of a lie down afterwards

Trips to the park on a leash? Nothing weird about that at all

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