“So what do you guys think of your friend Squid?” asked professional cat trainer Brenda, indicating toward the tiny, bald, heavily-tattooed man behind the bar, who was polishing wine glasses. “Is he date-worthy under all that ink?”
“Squid’s a cool guy. At least, he used to be,” said security guard Stu, sipping his beer. “Confident, smart, man of the world. Told great jokes. The ladies LOVED him! Until he got this obsession with Warriors superstar Steph Curry. I mean, we all like Steph; we all love basketball, but this is ridiculous.”
“Oh dear,” said Brenda, admiring Stu’s abundance of facial hair, and imagining him with cat ears.
“It’s certainly ridiculous,” said dreadlocked street artist and yoga enthusiast DeAndre, sitting cross-legged on his chair, in the padmasana lotus position, and helping himself—slinky feline fashion–to a garlic fry. “Next thing we know, Squid’s got photos of Steph all over his apartment. It’s like a shrine to Steph. And there are hoops and basketballs, literally everywhere, so he can practice shots!”
“Uh-oh,” said Brenda, glancing at her iPhone, after imagining DeAndre with cat ears.
“Yeah,” tutted Stu. “I’m a big man. Last time I stayed over with that little son of a bitch, and tried to shower, my head got fricking stuck in a hoop. According to Squid, his upstairs neighbor, Hulk O’Reilly, became so enraged, from all his ball bouncing, he jackhammered into his floor and through Squid’s ceiling. A piece of sheetrock made a ‘spectacular’ shot into the hoop above Squid’s sofa. Another landed in his Spaghetti Meatballs as he was having dinner, splashing an ‘awesome’ stain, on his white t-shirt, shaped like Steph Curry’s head. Squid’s gotten into some really weird illusory face perception shit. He thinks that even his fricking cat, Butthole, resembles Steph!”
“How adorable,” purred Brenda, viewing a cat video. “Butthole must be a really cute kitty!”
“As cat’s go, I suppose,” said Stu. “He’s fricking cuter than Squid!”
“And when Squid’s not got his basketball,” said DeAndre, getting down on all fours, between the tables, and performing the adho mukha svanasana downward dog, “he frequently does this thing where he, like, ‘air bounces,’ in rapid succession, and bobs his head-up-and-down. It’s really distracting. You order a drink from him, you’re always thinking, it’s gonna spill everywhere!”
“Yeah,” agreed Stu, watching DeAndre round and arch his back in the bitilasana marjaryasana cat-cow pose. “I wish they’d fricking fire him. I used to like to sit at the bar. But I suffer from motion sickness. When Squid turns into ‘Mr. Bobble Head’ and hands me a beer, it’s like I’m at the bar of some fricking yacht that’s lurching from side to side in a storm. And I’m ready to throw up! And then some, like, fifty-foot wave comes along and sweeps us all overboard…”
“Poor Stu needs his Xanax and ginger chews,” sighed DeAndre, pulling a sympathetic face. “He really does.”
“He certainly sounds like he does,” said Brenda, posting a smiling photo of herself, holding her latest, successfully-trained and, as a consequence, far-happier cat client, Mr. Tiddles–a Persian Blue–to her Instagram account.
“Yeah,” cut in Stu. “Remember Squid’s pleasant little lilt, DeAndre? Soothing as fricking honey. Now he’s affected this pseudo-macho ‘sport’ voice, where he talks real slow and low and monosyllabic. It’s like he’s imitating Steph—if Steph were a bald, head-to-toe-tattooed, little Irish bartender, who’s now, like, floating past me, in the ocean, sunny-side-up, like Millais’s fricking Ophelia (MAGICALLY CLUTCHING A FRICKING BASKETBALL!), and droning on and on, in this dying voice, about getting it in the hoop. And though I’m fighting to stay afloat, I’m tempted to hold him under until he drowns, so I can die happy, knowing I’ve killed the little fucker!”
“I can’t blame you,” said Brenda, responding to a text, and adding, ‘Lord Edward J. Meowster: friendly but unpredictable mountain lion, chases anything that moves, frightened of squirrels, leaf blowers, and VERY LARGE FEET,’ to her list of cat clients.
“Squid’s put me off basketball, quite frankly,” said DeAndre, getting up off the floor, brushing sawdust from his knees, and positioning himself into the Virabhadrasana Warrior Pose. “It might sound like pareidolia, but ever since he got his FULL FACIAL TATTOO, all I see is Steph Curry.”
“Me, too,” sighed Stu.
“Maybe I won’t date Squid, after all,” said Brenda, slipping her iPhone in her purse. “While I’m glad he has a cat–and Butthole sounds like a VERY nice kitty—I’m not really into basketball. I much prefer tennis!”
Ronia Smits is an Anglo-American writer, artist and cat guardian who grew up in England, the Middle East and Africa. Their humor and salty satire have appeared in The Yellow Ham, Defenestration, Robot Butt, Points in Case and Little Old Lady Comedy. Ronia lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with their husband Professor Brovnik (and other wildlife!).