Mid-afternoon on Friday, the day we’d dropped Basilette the stray off to be spayed, the phone rang. It was Doug from the spay/neuter clinic. My heart lodged itself firmly in my throat. Why would they call me before pickup time? Surely something had gone wrong. Surely Basilette was dead. This was Marmalade all over again! Why had I done this? I shouldn’t have spayed her! Did she know, wherever she was, that I’d only been trying to help? Was she planning on haunting me as a ghostly kitty specter? More importantly, would I still be allergic to ghostly kitty specter? Was I going to have to start buying different food? So many questions…
And yet, Doug sounded so damn chipper for someone who was about to tell me my feral cat was dead.
I think my voice was audibly trembling when I said, “Yes, this is Genevieve…” and asked how she was. Doug let out a chipper “Good! Good!” (asshole) and said he was calling me because he wanted to verify the name I wanted on kitty’s paperwork (What does it matter now?! Kitty is dead! …Asshole!). He wanted to know because Basilette…
was a boy.
I didn’t have a dead girl kitty! I just had a live boy kitty! And Doug’s wasn’t an asshole! Sorry, Doug!
As you’ll remember, I’d originally “just felt” that Basil was a boy…hence the name, “Basil.” But I’d never actually verified this, as the lil’ Dude was just too fast. When we caught Basil’s father, uh, mounting him, we just sorta went, hmm, Basil might be a girl who’s starting to go into heat. And then, with nary a moment’s hesitation, we just started calling him Basilette and thinking of him as a girl.
Doug and I got a few really good belly laughs outta the whole thing and I skipped off to tell The Boy that my cat wasn’t dead, but rather, just in possession of a penis.
“Oh, thank god.”
Thank god because we’d thought kitty was dead. Not thank god because of the penis. Even though the penis is totally fine, too. Is this all making sense? No? FANTASTIC.
I have no idea why the daddy mounting caused us all to switch gender game plans so abruptly, especially since I know better. When I was growing up, I had a pair of gay male cats–Dusty and Frankie. Maybe you’re not supposed to apply human labels to animal relations, so forgive me if I’ve committed a faux pas here, but whatever, they were boys and they boffed each other’s brains out nearly constantly in the best-decorated corner of the house, even after being neutered. The Mother and The Aunt, being very Catholic and very Midwestern, maintained, “they’re just cuddling, there’s nothing more to it!” When The Brother asked me what I thought of their theory, I responded that it was the most willfully naive crock of bullshit I’d ever heard. I was nine.
All this went on, even after Dusty and Frankie were neutered, until the day Dusty died of complications from extreme obesity. Yes, it was true. Both kitties were bigger than average, but while Frankie was all muscle-bound studmuffin, Dusty was all muffin top.
Once a friend saw Dusty on the stairway, dropped his fork in shock mid-brunch, and asked us what kind of animal it was. Because Dusty was as big as a dog, but sorta looked like a cat, but in all honesty most closely resembled a big, fresh bakery muffin. He was also our cuddliest cat, not because he was all that affectionate, but rather, because he couldn’t run fast enough on his ineffective little twigs to escape a hug. Once you had him ensnared in your grasp, he would just sort of wiggle his limb nubbins before collapsing back into a pile of ooze to wait for it to be over.
After Dusty’s death, Frankie became sort of despondent and started listening to a lot of Radiohead and wouldn’t eat food out of his bowl, but instead waited to dine until he’d transferred all the kibble pieces, one by one, from the dish to a separate little corner of the linoleum. Ah, yes. A metaphorical exercise in futility. Those were dark days for Frankie. Then he poured himself into his art. I tried to show interest in his new hobby, but when I asked him if the giblet gravy dribble he’d made on the floor was supposed to be a cat or a dog or a muffin, he got way pissed and screamed, “IT’S MY ANGST, OKAY? IT’S MY FUCKING ANGST!”
Then he stormed out and we never spoke of his art again.
This level of detail was 100% necessary in order for me to convey to you that…
Basil is fine. And has a penis. But more importantly, he’s fine. Or at least, will be. After I stop calling him “pretty girl.”
Slow Cooker Lavender Beef Stew
2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (Most packaged beef stew meat is cut into pieces that are, in my opinion 2-3 times too big. For tender stew, BMG says cut it up AND save any blood in the packaging. I know, I know.)
1 large onion, diced
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 Tablespoon dried lavender flowers
1 cup beef broth
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 pound red potatoes, cut into one-inch pieces
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered or halved, depending on size
2 carrots, diced
Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, thyme, and lavender.
Toss the beef and flour mixture (and any residual beef blood) into the slow cooker, and mix it around until it’s all well-coated.
Pile on the potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms.
Mix the beef broth, tomato paste, and red wine, and pour over everything.
Cook on high heat for about 8 hours, stirring occasionally, or until meat and vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with crusty bread.
© 2012, Genevieve P. Charet. All rights reserved.Pin It