I thought he was Adonis. But that was before he turned me into a Chair. now I see him more as a Mama's boy with a flat screen tv that he never turns off. Since I've lived in his house I've turned wooden, lost my stink and and my heartbeat. I'm not even human. I'm a Chair! And now I am a chair I can see he's no Adonis! The truth is he's more of a Guido. Smooth and sorta stupid. All his girl friends sound like Effie from Wogs outta Work. One of them laughed at my name, not knowing the walls are made of paper and I could hear her. I can hear everything.
He stands outside my bedroom door and calls to the cat every morning.
He yells like he's living in a double brick mansion. As if anyone has to yell to be heard in this box? We can hear each other fart and sigh with a hallway and bathroom between us
He calls me Sweetheart too so it wakes me! Then the sound of breakfast television filters into my ears. What's the point of surround sound if you don't use it? What's the point of a flat screen tv if it's not on night and day?
I measure his moods through the remote control. So does the cat. When he turns up the tv she jumps from his lap and starts pacing. I grit my teeth, close the paper doors and creep off back to my cat perch. The cat perch is comfy. I feel like I'm safe here. I was restless for a week trying to find a corner to settle into. In lieu of a room to call your own there's nothing like a perch. The cat wants it back but bad luck. She's not getting it. This perch is all I've got. It does me nicely. My needs are simple. A desk, a chair. A power point. I lived without those needs for almost a week until I found this spot. And now the cat hates me.
But not as much as she hates him. At least she doesn't piss on my bed. Good on her! I would piss on his bed too if all I got for dinner was dry food and water. Just because she's damaged doesn't mean that she doesn't have fine tastes. Sweetheart and I have a lot in common. He rescued her from a shelter. And he spared me from having to live in one while I find accommodation. I'm on the run from Perth. She's on the run from Adelaide..
No doubt he loved her too in the beginning. I'm sure there was wet food and treats to begin with. The first night I moved in he cooked me mashed potato with sausages. Mashed potato is my ultimate comfort food. We drank wine and flirted. I was high on his cooking, his smell, his good looks and all the Adonis attention. I had left a beer soaked mine in Perth to come to to civilised Adelaide. What a city! What a dream land. What a hunk of a man. He made me dizzy.
And then when I put down my fork he said 'You know when Leo told me that you were a Reporter for Simon Townsend's WonderWorld and all the things you do I thought I'd be sexually attracted to you. But I realised when I met you tonight that I don't find you attractive at all'. And he started clearing the plates. That was it. Conversation over.
What a weirdo?
And from that moment on and every day I've since spent here, I slowly turned from a hot blooded woman into a chair. Yes a chair. An odd type of objectification. At least when you're sexually objectified you're still human. But a chair is just a piece of wood. It has no sex. It has no feelings. You don't ask a chair if you are going to move it. You just move it. You don't have to turn the tv down for a chair because a chair has no ears. You can ignore a chair. You can shift it to one side without apologising. You don't ask a chair how they're feeling? A chair is there for your arse to have somewhere to sit. Nothing more. Nothing less. If I sat down on his couch and a re-run of 'friends' came on the tele he would sit on my head until he heard my muffled screams and then he'd say...
'Oh sorry Sweetheart. Didn't see you!'
It's not a very dignified position to be in. So I hung out in the courtyard like an odd piece of furniture and paired up with the Cat Perch. It's the only spot that Adonis won't wipe down and sanitise my stink. There's no point wiping down chip board. It reflects nothing and leaves splinters in your cloth. So I am safe here. Around Adonis I feel feral and swampy. Like I leave a snail trail. In his house I am always re-tracing my steps with cloth and a bottle of Windex. You'd think I had the arms of Medusa I leave so many finger prints. That's why I like the Cat Perch. You can't scratch it or stain it. Well you can but the cat doesn't care. She just wants me off it because the smooth surfaces are driving her crazy too. There's barely room for one cat in this house. Let alone two. She has no space at all now. But I'm not taking responsibility for all her issues. That cat needs a shrink.
Since Adonis is training to be one so you'd think they'd be the perfect couple. But Adonis doesn't have a zit of empathy. He doesn't have a zit either. Or a wrinkle. He's Adonis. He's beautiful. Just don't scratch the surface or leave any crumbs on the bench in the kitchen. He likes his surfaces. empty, smooth and glassy so he can see himself in them. Cats, on the other hand, subscribe to the Quentin Crisp version of Happiness which 'consists of living in the continuous present all over your body for as long as possible.' Cats understand this instinctively. Cats need to rub up against things that rub them back and to climb and to play hide and seek and feel shrubs rub up against their faces.
But in this box there's nothing to play with. The small courtyard we share is closed in by a clear corrugated awning and hot tin walls. A table sits in the middle. The table is clean and bare and smooth like everything else. When the sun hits the table in the morning you can look down and see the shadow of your face in it. Through the awning the heat burns a hole the back of your head.
The cat has only polished floorboards, hot stone and concrete to rub herself up against. So she rolls around in the litter box and gets gravel and shit in her fur. I try to comb it out with my fingers. She's stopped caring for herself. I can relate to this. Since living with Adonis I've stopped looking in the mirror. I'm a chair. Who cares what I look like? Adonis absorbs everything around him. Including me.
The Cat meowls at the top of the hot tin fence. She wants to climb that fence but it's smooth and shiny and she's been de-clawed. She's double thwarted. Every time she makes a leap for the fence she lands with a THUMP on the concrete. Then she picks herself up and tries it again. Wild vines peep over the top of the fence from the neighbors. It looks cool and luscious. The vines reach like fingers to beckon her. She looks up in despair trying to gage the jump. The white cat next door can manage to do it. But that cat has confidence, strong legs and sharp claws. That cat leaps over the hot tin fence at least three times a day. Her mobility mocks us.
I have nowhere to go yet. And Sweetheart has no claws. Just two soft pads like a cartoon cat. They slide down the shiny surface of the fence. She falls to the ground with a thump. Picks herself up, flings herself at the fence again and again. Thump Thump. THUMP. It's unbearable. I want to fling her over the fence just to have it over with. I can't stand it. But it's not like I have any say. I'm just a chair. It's not like I'm PETA. And Adonis is watching...
'Sweetheart what are you doing? '
Does he really expect her to answer him. It's obvious what she's doing. What's he doing? He doesn't pick her up. He doesn't stop her. He doesn't lift a finger to try to help her or comfort her. Because it's all about him. Her need to escape is bringing up all his 'abandonment' issues. He sits there docile as a soft toy.
'She hates me.'
'Maybe she's just depressed?' I offer.
'Sweetheart?'. his voice goes up like a question mark.
She ignores him and throws herself at the fence again.
'She hates me. She really hates me'
The cat falls to the floor like a sack of potatoes and wipes herself across the concrete getting ready for another suicidal leap.
'Look. She wants to get away from me She hates me'
'No she doesn't. She doesn't hate you!'
But what do I know? I'm just a Chair.
Feral cat in a cage j hammer oil on canvas sold 150 x 120cm by Jonny Hammer.