Cat Men on Fifth Avenue


-- चार हजार एक सौ और चौरानवे --

Well, now it's been a whole weekend since Shobhit got back from his 25-day trip to India. It hasn't been too bad. He actually got right back into work shifts: he worked on Saturday from noon until 5:00 and then yesterday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. I actually had plans with friends both evenings past when he finished work, so I still saw comparatively little of him over Saturday and Sunday -- although we did go to Costco on Saturday morning.

I deliberately stayed home with him all evening on Friday. He was asleep on the couch when I got home from work. He had earlier suggested we go to Costco that evening, which I would have liked to have done, but he was so sleepy all Friday evening -- which I basically predicted anyway -- that he changed his mind. We watched a little TV that night, but I turned off Modern Family when he started snoring, figuring we could finish it later.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और चौरानवे --

Saturday afternoon I basically fended for myself. I got the feeling Ivan might have liked to do something, as he told me that although he had plans for Sunday (apparently in addition to plans he already had with me), he had no plans on Saturday. He actually said, "What's on the agenda for today, Matthew?" I told him I was taking myself to see Loving Vincent -- and he immediately had clearly zero interest in that.

Turns out, I should have too. I loved the concept of a film that was entirely animated with oil paintings, all in the style of Vincent van Gogh, but I found the film almost unbearably dull. I also got weirdly tired during it, and it took a herculean effort to stay awake. Literally it was light I was fighting narcolepsy. This happens to me sometimes during afternoon movies, even when otherwise totally sober (as I was that afternoon), or during later evening movies after I've had a drink or two.

I had walked down there and walked back home afterward, and between that and the B- review I subsequently wrote, that killed a few hours of my Saturday afternoon, I guess.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और चौरानवे --

Then, at about 5:3o pm, it was time to head over to Laney's, to finally pick up on re-watching Mad Men. Our original plan was to meet monhtly to watch at least two episodes at a time; before this past weekend, we had only managed to see two episodes -- for one such meeting, which happened all the way back in late July. All three months after that, something came up to preclude it from happening: in August Laney had to cancel because she threw her back out cleaning her apartment; we hadn't scheduled long enough beforehand and she was too busy to meet for it in September; an in October she had to cancel because her daughter, Jessica, was in town and wanted to do something special for her as a late birthday present. So, we didn't get back to it again until this past Saturday.

We caught up a little bit, though: somewhat surprisingly, even after chatting for nearly an hour, we actually managed to watch three episodes. I stopped at QFC on my way there and got a couple of goat cheese logs and Blue Diamond Nut Thin almond rice crackers. The cranberry goat cheese log is amazing, and for some reason I always forget how much better it is than the herb one. Probably because I usually hate cranberry. But this one is so good I ate almost the entire log. Hey! It was a small log. My weight was up the next morning but whatever. I also had a huge bowl of cheese popcorn Laney offered me and two spiked hot chais I had brought with me in a thermos.

Watching the three more episodes of Mad Men was a lot of fun. We both remarked on how we had remembered liking it from the first season when watching it the first time around, but did not quite remember it being so excellent from the very beginning. When I first watched it, it took a little time for me to warm up to it. But now, re-watching the episodes, they introduce key plot elements far earlier than I remembered, stuff that really informed how great the series turned out to be overall.

It wasn't even yet 10:00 when the third episode finished. Laney and I were continuing to chat but it had to be cut short because she really had to poop, she said -- we could either put the conversation on hold for a few minutes or we could call it a night. I walked home. Shobhit and I watched Real Time with Bill Maher and Ivan even joined us in the living room to watch as well, and I was in bed shortly after that.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और चौरानवे --


-- चार हजार एक सौ और चौरानवे --

Sunday -- yesterday -- was mostly characterized by an afternoon and early evening spent with Ivan. Shobhit, as I said, was working by 11 a.m. I spent a few hours yesterday morning working on my 2018 calendars. I think people are going to love this year's theme -- especially those of the older generation, but I think it will still be fun for everyone.

Ivan and I headed out at around 1:40, after I had suggested we go at 1:35 -- figuring we would probably not get out until at least 5 minutes after that. He switched his typical track pants for his black jeans, asked me how he looked, and even asked if I could smell him, referring to his cologne. "I sure can," I said, and he said, "Okay good." I said, "Dressing up for the cats?" -- we were planning to go to Capitol Hill's new cat café on Pine and Belmont after the movie. He said yes, but I asked while we were walking downtown if the switch back to jeans had to do with the weather. "Yes," he said. "It's the season for it!" But I learned this morning he actually had a date last night, which lasted several hours -- he called it "really weird" but then said the guy was fun and he'd see him again -- and thus that was clearly the reason he was dressing (and smelling) nicer than usual.

Anyway, he had even said he hoped we'd walk to the movie, because "It's a beautiful autumnal day, don't you think?" Sure. We then arrived at Pacific Place to see Murder on the Orient Express, which he'd been inexplicably excited about for months -- if not for his eagerness to see it, the mixed reviews alone would have otherwise kept me from seeing it. And after the fact, the only redeeming value to having gone is that I got to spend some time with Ivan; I did not love the film. When I asked Ivan after it was over what he thought, he literally said, "I loved it!" This was surprising because far more exciting and engaging films have many times left him looking at his phone the entire time they played when we watched them at home, and it seems he just conditioned himself to love it because the train in the movie happens to pass through Eastern Europe, his favorite part of the world. Granted, all you ever see is CGI snowcapped mountains, but whatever. This guy isn't always the most logical person.

We then walked from Pacific Place up to Neko Cat Café, Seattle's second cat café and the first on Capitol Hill -- and, thus, the first-ever cat café visited by either Ivan or myself. (Aside: I only just noticed in that Capitol Hill Blog post that it's pronounced "neck-oh"; all this time I've been saying "neek-oh".) Ivan is a big cat lover -- it was something I learned about him in the very first email he sent me inquiring about the room when he first moved in with me in 2014 -- so I knew he'd be interested in coming to this place. Way back when, they said they were opening in summer 2017; then they said October; their official grand opening was on Wednesday the 8th of this month. Once that finally happened, I told Ivan we had to go check it out this weekend, and he said okay.

I'm certain Shobhit would like it too, but I had no idea what his schedule would allow, so I just said he may or may not join us. He never did -- they had no availability in their cat room, which you pay $10 an hour to go into, for walk-ins when we were there yesterday. Even when I booked the reservation for Ivan and me, which I did on Friday, they only had availability at 7pm Saturday (when I had the other plans with Laney), and either 5pm or 8pm on Sunday. I suggested to him we do 5pm and go right after the 2:10 showing of the movie, and he was down with that.

And now that I've experienced the place, I have a better understanding of how it works, what kind of food is available, and whether I want to go back -- and I definitely do, as I had already discussed going with Laney. I tried suggesting we do that place for Happy Hour this month, which we have scheduled already for this coming Friday, but since the only "meal" they offer is a Bento box with a sandwich in it and she can't do grains except corn right now according to her doctor, she nixed that idea and suggested Queer Bar for Happy Hour instead. Shobhit was definitely available this Friday, but he won't be doing the cat café that day now -- which is fine. Laney and I have now scheduled Neko Café for Friday, December 1 at 6pm, and her daughter Jessica wants to come too. Whether Shobhit can make it depends entirely on whether he works that evening.

Anyway! Back to yesterday. Ivan and I arrived at maybe a couple of minutes before 4:40, and our cat room reservation was at 5:00, which we had to wait for. He ordered himself a tea, which he had to wait some time to drink because it was too hot for him. They had to heat up new water for that so when they made my tea it probably wasn't as hot, but mine also had time to cool down because I wanted to save it for taking into the cat room. Once I found out one of their three Bento Box options included an egg salad sandwich and was thus vegetarian, I decided to go for that and have that for dinner. It also came with a bag of Japanese rice crackers that seemed odd but interesting at first and then tasted better the more I ate them; and also "Pocky Sticks," which are sort of like long thin pretzels without salt but covered in your choice of chocolate or strawberry -- I chose the chocolate. Next time I'll try the strawberry. I shared both those snacks with Ivan, and that was all he ate; he did not have dinner there with me. As I ate, he showed me the Buzz Feed article on his phone -- Every Outfit Shelley Long Wears in Troop Beverly Hills, Ranked -- and said, "This is the important thing I'm reading."

5:00 rolled around soon enough, and a bunch of people who had arrived after us were closer to the door to the cat room and went in before us, but I still found a little cat-head-shaped table to set our tea cups onto near a bench where we could sit, which we sat at for most of the hour we were in there. They asked us to use hand sanitizer both once coming in and before leaving. All their cats are adoptable but they also all have FIV or feline leukemia, which makes them very contagious to other cats -- I guess it can transmit even via saliva, so they can only be around other cats that are also infected.

The lady working in the room answered several questions I had (and I asked by far the most), and I learned they could potentially have up to about 12 cats, but on this particular day they had six. All of them were in the room, although there was a kitty door to a more private space where all the litter boxes are. Almost all of them just lounged around, sleeping, barely even registering the many people petting them -- including both Ivan and me. I think Ivan got up to pet cats a little more than I did.

I took a couple of pictures, including one of the cat lounging in the box underneath where Ivan sat much of the time -- the photo I took shows his feet to the right, and is seen at the bottom of this entry. I posted that and tagged him for my check-in on Facebook -- in all likelihood after a few weeks he'll remove the tag; that's an odd thing he just does. But then he asked me to take some pictures of him with the cats, and I took quite a few; I hadn't taken such a succession of photos of him since we went to Golden Gardens Park on our birthday in April. He was consistently unhappy with the photos, even though typically the first of a series tended to be the best -- I just texted him all 16 of the shots I took. When I got home later, I kept five of them, including the spectacular shot I got of him petting one of the cats that he used for his own checkin. I also kept the best of the few shots taken of the two of us together with a couple of the cats, which the employee in the room offered to take for us -- even though it's not really the most flattering picture of either of us. Ivan looks a little like a deer caught in headlights in that photo, and I'm not especially fond of how my face and hair look in it either. But, it was one shot of the two of us together so I kept it. (The one of just him and the cat is likely what I'll include in my year-end photo retrospective though.)

The whole experience was fun, if unusual and at times somewhat odd. They only let ten people in the room at a time, and there were extended periods where no one in there was saying much of anything. It was just people sitting in a room, looking around at the cats also in the room, sometimes getting up to pet them. With Ivan and me, part of it is just that we often sit without talking much when we go out -- and I guess other cat people can tend to be like that too. When Laney and Jessica and I, and hopefully Shobhit too, go, it'll probably be a little livelier. And next time I want to get a Bento box and take it into the cat room to eat in there. They do allow that -- you just can't take any food or drink that's been in the cat room back out to the regular dining area, which I guess is a health code issue.

The atmosphere is very much like a lounge-y coffee shop, with pillows to lean back on, on benches, with a few little tables around. It was kind of warm in there and I was not the only one who took my jacket off. One gray tabby cat lay down on another person's coat, which the employee said might happen. My jacket was left alone, but I was kind of leaning back against it anyway.

Once it was nearing 6:00, we did our hand sanitizing, and were out the door, after Ivan got himself a quick cup of water. He then told me he was going the opposite direction toward downtown and bade me a good evening. I asked where he was going and he just said, "I have other plans tonight," apparently not wanting to tell me he was going to meet someone for a date. Oddly, he was almost eager to share that information when he saw me briefly this morning, because I had left much later than usual and he was up much earlier than usual, right around 8:30. But within just a few minutes I needed to head out, so I could make it to my periodontist appointment on time at 9:00.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और चौरानवे --

And here's the deal with that: as of right now, I have an appointment on Wednesday, December 13 -- two days after Shobhit and I get back from our Christmastime visit in Idaho -- for the skin graft procedure to cover up the receding gums on my lower front four teeth. The periodontist was frustratingly unclear on the level of necessity for this procedure: "Right now, it's optional," he said, clearly to help soothe my worries over having this procedure done at all. He also said, though, that the younger I am when I do it, the better, as it's guaranteed only to get worse over time, and if I wait until I'm 50 or 60, the procedure will be more involved and I will take longer to heal. Jesus Christ. Well, let's just get it over with then. I had already resigned myself to this as a necessity, and if it has to happen, I'd rather get it over with as soon as possible. Now I just need to hear from them as to what my insurance says my out-of-pocket will be, and decide whether I want to keep that December appointment, or wait until next year to have it done.

I finally got to work this morning at maybe 10:20. Noah turned around from his desk, which is behind mine, and said with unusual cheerfulness, "Welcome to work!" Scott said nearly the same thing once he finally noticed I was here. And then he kept telling me how awful his own experiences had been with oral skin grafts -- he hated it so much that he had them stop halfway through what they had planned. Clearly what they wanted for him was far more involved, though; he was intended for four separate treatments. I only need this one.

Still, it does involve taking skin off the roof of my mouth and then stitching it over my lower-front gums. The periodontist assured me it would not be much different from getting a filling; it's "a very minor procedure." Except, apparently, people usually take the day off when they have it done. The sounds a little worse than a filling to me. Whatever, whatever. This whole thing makes me fucking nervous, but if I have to do it, I want to get it over with. So at this point it's not so much a matter of whether I'll do it, but when. For now the plan is December 13.

-- चार हजार एक सौ और चौरानवे --


[posted 12:39 pm]