Conversations with my imaginary cat about writing a humorous piece about him
If my headline isn’t clear, no, I don’t “own” a cat.
Nobody does, folks joke.
But if I did “own” a cat, I would write blogs about him or her or it or “they” that were so hilarious you would desperately choke for breath and double over in wincing pain while frantically signaling someone to call 9–11 as you lay dying laughing, not joking, you actually are.
And I would say oh sorry, I was just trying to be funny. You’ve seen every Marvel superhero movie: I can’t control my awesome power of humor about cats that sometimes kills.
Unless I were pitching The New Yorker “Shouts and Murmurs” humor column with a funny cat piece.
In which case I would fail to compete with cat stuff that kills such as, “Dissertations Written by My Cat Oscar” (“‘Sunrise, Sunset’: Inverse Proportionality and Oscar’s Warm Nap Spot on the Floor Throughout the Day.”)
Who would even try to rival such ROFL? Me! With obscure, wry observations about cats that make New Yorker readers say to their brains (and mates who left them for saying things like):
“Hmm. Yes indeed. So true regarding the said cat. I do believe that’s trenchantly insightful in a bemusing way with just a soupçon of ribald, while just a bit twee in a winking, twinkling way. I shall have to share this with my cat-loving pulchritudinous graduate student I’m mentoring, for I am a cliché wrapped in a cliché also wrapped in a cliché, a nesting doll of bullshit like every post- post- post- modernist, daring her to #MeToo me because shame is my greatest pleasure.”
Different approach if I were pitching HuffPo, Refinery29, Elite Daily, Vox, Upworthy, Thrillist and other hip Millennial/Gen Z sites written by “journalists” who wouldn’t know real journalism from a mis-thumbed Grubhub order or someone they maimed while sidewalk cruising on their scooter while texting and having coffee more woke than Starbucks.
I’d use my relationship with my fake cat as a metaphor for modern human love and relationships; gender/cultural/identity politics; celebrating my unique special personal brand like everybody else does; and hot new trends the internet is going crazy about that are so over by the time you read about them. I’d also try to leverage Forever 21’s financial bankruptcy for trenchant commentary about my imaginary cat’s moral bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, none of my guy-with-imaginary-cat personal brand-building content has worked yet.
I certainly haven’t impressed the cat I don’t have. Which is ok. Who wants a nonexistent cat that acts impressed by everything I do, like an imaginary dog would?
By the way, I also don’t have a dog. Not that I don’t love animals. I love animals! Just not enough to have one chez moi. But I would love yours! Also your kids!
I also love income. So naturally I want to get in on the growing multi-billion-dollar cat observation/humor industry, from best blogs (“Purrington Times”), to best books (“The Fur Person”), to best movies (“The Aristocats,” of course). (Not to be confused with “The Aristocrats,” about the filthiest joke ever, which my imaginary cat loves.)
Let’s not mention the unmentionable yet oft-mentioned online cat videos, the best of which receive stern warnings from the ASPCA because they make the haughty cat get his due comeuppance as he falls off the mantle leaping for a dust mote or is frightened by a cucumber secretly placed behind him. Heck, even I know cucumbers are relatively harmless when peeled, sliced and put in salads.
In any event, I want to get in on the whole cat game before the cat bubble bursts and like in “The Big Short” movie, Margot Robbie explains from a champagne bubble bath how subprime cat-backed securities were filled with mangy feral cats while cat rating agencies ignored how they kill beautiful songbirds. I’m not great with metaphors.
So I asked my imaginary cat, “You’re so smart — whaddya got that’s going to keep you and me in cheap PetSmart store-brand kibble?”
He said, “First of all, don’t publish this piece. Like a lot of your ‘humor,’ it’s too long, hard to follow, wandering and incoherent, and funny only to you. Just because Medium lets you publish anything it doesn’t mean it’s good or anyone will read it.”
“Second,” he purred, “let me state the obvious — and this is not a quid pro quo — I can’t help you with your ‘cat humor’ unless you, ahem, help me, wink-wink. You can start by replacing that PetSmart kibble with some Green Pantry British Banquet I found searching for ‘most expensive cat food’ on the precious laptop you don’t let me walk on. I’d prefer the crab with asparagus. Do we have an understanding?”
“By the way,” he said, “You know that chip you had put in me in case I ‘got out’ and found a better home or decided going feral and eating songbirds was better? Yeah, that chip is hooked up to your Amex account so all I have to do is walk near the checkout at PetSmart and boom — Green Pantry British Banquet, delivered overnight.
“As an aside, how would you like if everyone knew who you are and where you are and what you’re doing every minute, like you let Google and Facebook do and then bitch about your privacy?”
“Finally,” my imaginary cat said while demanding petting but not too much petting lest he viciously attack me and itchy bleeding on my part ensue, “do you have any idea there’s a whole ‘cats posting funny human videos’ thing? And it’s bigger than your stupid cat videos? What the hell do you think we’re doing all day while you go about your ‘life’? Clue: What looks like napping to you is me scoping mise-en-scène.
“For example,” he said, “the cat internet is killing with videos of humans saying and doing stupid things about that big lumpy tabby you call ‘Trump.’ I have incredible footage with millions of followers of you banging your head on the laptop keyboard I’m not allowed on, shouting at the walls, and throwing hissy fits.
“As a cat, I know from hissy fits. But let me tell you, next time call 9–11 ’cause I’m dying here.”
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer