A Great Shattering: Fat Cat vs. The Pinarello

Lofts are hard to live in. Don’t let anyone fool you.

Big open spaces with free-flowing floor plans and no walls sound really fucking cool in a tree-house kind of way. And – to be honest – they sort of are. But the hipster-modern factor definitely has its drawbacks.

Which is why I spent the first 10 minutes of every dinner party we held in 2005 explaining why we had 7 bicycles lined up in the living room next to the faux Eames.

They were all Sal’s but for one – the blue and orange Pinarello that I’d required him to buy for me before he could move on to his second, third, fourth, fifth, ad nauseum.

The bikes were conversation pieces. Always good for a laugh.

Besides that, the Sicilian kept them in pristine condition, cleaning them with a shop rag and  an old toothbrush on the north facing patio while I sat at the wooden table smoking fat Macanudos and sipping whiskey in over-sized sunglasses (which was my favorite hobby from the ages of 23-25).

Those bikes were his pride and joy and it showed. They gleamed. Constantly.

I suffered them mostly because he suffered my cigars. And because they consistently gave me 3-4 hours of uninterrupted reading time on any given weekend day. The boy went to the bikes and the girl went to the books. With whiskey. Usually.

Evening was cocktail time and I specialized in resurrecting old classics like White Ladies (contains egg white and gin!), Vodka Gimlets, and Dark N Stormy’s. At night we tucked in on the second level and listened intently to see if there would be another brawl spilling out of Cafe Cocomo. The infamous dance club was more than three blocks away but when the fights went off they always went big: gunfire and dramatic chases and such.

The cats were a constant worry in those days. The skinny one hated the idea that we would sleep for eight hours and leave him bored and lonely. The fat one could not understand that his little paws and claws would not allow him to walk on the smooth, curved banister that cordoned off the upper level (he fell a full story twice – a dramatic endeavor for a 16 pound monster).

We routinely fell asleep at night worrying that A. the skinny cat would steal our breath and leave us for dead in the middle of the night or B. the fat cat would once again perform a suicidal leap.

The Fat Cat was nervous. And by nervous I mean scared.  He flinched at everything and curled into me whenever I sat still for more than 30 seconds, begging for consolation from the cruel world. Probably the Skinny Cat (since verified to be the spawn of the devil) was torturing him when we weren’t looking. Either way, that cat was 100% cowardice.

Which is probably why the winding cord of Sal’s big headphones scared him. Which is probably why he attacked them at 1am on one peaceful Saturday night. Which is probably why he became entangled in the springy cord and fled.

Having no other choice, the headphones attached to the cord chased him, of course.

Which is probably why he panicked and continued to bolt, though there was really nowhere in our 1100 square foot kingdom for him to go.

The sound was rumbling at first – like an earthquake. I woke up with my heart in my throat thinking, “Intruder!”

Sal sat upright staring at me with wide eyes as we both tried not to breathe.

And then it happened.

Traumatic events always happen in slow motion. At least that’s what they say. But I’d never heard of traumatic sounds happening in slow motion until this day. It was the kind of smashing that could only come from the Ultimate Destruction of Every Belonging I Had Ever Worked For.

A great shattering, a huge encompassing roar.

The sound of one Fat Cat pulling an expensive set of headphones through, over and under everything in the living area. The sound of a freestanding bookshelf liberating itself of our designer toys, meticulously arranged books, quirky antiques and box of carefully selected and tirelessly researched cigars. The sound of said freestanding bookshelf tipping wildly into the perfectly arranged line of Beloved Bicycles.

The sound of Pinarellos scratching, frames crunching, components digging into soft (and expensive) bamboo flooring.

Bicycle destruction.

And then it was quiet.

I covered my face with my hands. Sal hit the light next to the bed: he was visibly red, blood rushing to the surface of his skin.

“Tell me that did not just happen.” he said through gritted teeth.

I started laughing – an unfortunate outlet for nervous, terrified energy. My outburst was not appreciated.

Slowly, we leaned over the banister behind the head of the bed, craning down through the curtains to look at the living area below. City lights through the wall of windows illuminated what looked like a war zone.

The cat was sitting in a corner next to the mostly destroyed headphones. Having finally managed to free himself of their evil clutches, he appeared to be gloating.

He looked up at us and blinked in that innocent cat way. He looked at us with an expression that said, “What?”

We pulled the covers over our heads and agreed to pretend that nothing happened. I dreamed of Cat Kabobs and feline fur stoles.

In the morning, Kitty Kat Hell Hangover hit like a freight train and we crept downstairs to begin the reconstruction process. Miraculously, none of the bikes were seriously damaged – but there were enough significant scratches to send the Sicilian into a fit of grief worthy of stopping clocks and covering mirrors. (Luckily, he opted to skip the wailing and rending of clothing.)

It took us three days to restore order.

Three days in which the fate of the Fat Cat alternated between taxidermy and banishment. He sat on top of the shelves and watched us clean and superglue, waiting.

In the end, of course, he remained untouched. Maybe even newly loved. We snuggled him and forgave him. He purred a big fat-boy purr and curled into a gigantic ball which we found irresistible.

He showed us his belly. I’ve been told is a sign of submission which makes me wonder if the people who discover these cat behavior meanings have actually ever had a cat. Because all I saw in his eyes that day as we rubbed his belly and kissed his forehead was this:

“I own you, bitches. Believe that.”


The patio bike shop.


Typical Sunday: cigars, wine, Rushdie.


The culprit.

An attempt at bloated innocence.


The Skinny Cat. aka “The Spawn of Satan”, aka “Biddy”


Fat Cat planning his impending attack on our living space.


The Peaceful Kingdom.

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5 comments

  1. Your timing is perfect! Oz shattered J’s vase in the middle of the night two nights ago. This should make her feel much better!

  2. We end up putting packing tape around the house, sticky-side up, to deter little kitty paws from treading where they ought not… it sorta works, and is at least momentarily entertaining when the cat gets some tape stuck to her fur and tries to get away from it. She eventually gets her revenge, of course.

  3. This is perfectly wonderful….absolutely great imagery. I loved it!!! what a great piece.
    Especially the line about covering mirrors and stopping clocks…..I miss you but that devil cat you have, the one that acts all sweet and nice and snuggles up with your visitors and then bites the minute the visitor relaxes. …well, I don’t miss him at all.
    PS — Your godson (dog) misses you too. I think he’s about 72 pounds now. !!!!

  4. Brilliant — and oh so true! Here at Rancho Bikelovejones, Yofi has learned how to open the cupboard and make lunch, while Addie has learned how to dial for takeout pizza. Neither has expressed an interest in cleaning up afterwards, but when the Harley-In-Idle Purr kicks in all is (mostly) forgiven.

  5. Thanks again,for another look into your life, the images are surreal!

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