This is a monologue on cat people, by my downstairs neighbour, transcribed by me:
They are. You can tell. Cat people and dog people, like if they say—if they say—you know how they say there’s two kinds of people in the world, and it’s people who, whatever, chips or pretzels, tomayto-tomato—
[two blasts from a pressure hose, long-short]
—or hairy, but like…no! No! It doesn’t mean…they’re not kinds of people. It doesn’t affect the whole person. If you say tomahto, I can’t guess, I can’t—I can’t be the FBI, he’s a white male in his forties, lives with his mother. I could say you’re probably British, but Indian—India, they say, when I was in India…it’s tomahto in India. But a cat person, I can tell you, I can list ten things about you without even, off the top of my head, boom-boom-boom, and every single one—
[computer startup noise (not my computer. I’m using mine.)]
Okay, one, you have, I’m not doing the obvious ones, like you have cat hair on your pants. Plus, that’s with dog people—my dog died nine years ago and I still have the couch, and when I do under the cushions there’s hair woven in. It’s, like, woven. It’s part of the fabric now. Like my couch will last five extra years, all the dog hair that’s holding it together. But cat people, one—
One. You have in your home at least one Etsy bullshit. Like a, like a, like a…like a needle stitch. Like a…”bless this mess.” You like cats more than people, it’s a given, you fucking—you would scream, you would…the firefighters come and you’re…save Gadget!
[I missed the next couple of items on the list. It’s just, when I was wee, I’d ride to school with the neighbour kid, and she had a TV, and we’d wait for her dad and watch Inspector Gadget. I got this jab of nostalgia, and my head filled with da-na-na-na-na Inspector Gadget! Da-na-na-na-na-NA-NAAAAA! Go, Gadget, go! Everything fell away for a minute…you know how it is.]
—in some stage of hoarding between a nine-shelf pig collection and dead cats in your, dead cats in your freezer. You know how to do, like, you can knit or crochet, and you’ve fantasised about killing someone with the needles.
[…I use my bare hands, in my fantasies, but I’m not a cat person.]
You, you are mentally ill, but not like a, not like a depression, not…like you couldn’t diagnose it, but it’s just you. It’s when everyone says “yeah, that’s just Edith,” and you know what they mean, like a custom-made, a custom psychopathy just for you.
You…Christmas! It’s, God, look up one and to the left! Look up one and to the left!
[I look to my left, but not up one, as I’m already up one. My left-hand neighbour still has his Christmas lights out.]
She, they…THOSE people are, I, one hundred percent, those are cat people. Two cat, three cat, those people are multiple…they are cat people. And they know. They know it is…they, they didn’t forget. They didn’t, like, in January they were, okay, we’ll take it down tomorrow. That is on purpose. That is…that, to them, that looks good. I guarantee, we come out after dark, those lights will be, those—and they’re the white ones. They’re the white ones. I guarantee. Cat. People.
[Are there cats next door? I don’t know. I’ve never heard any, unless…there was that screaming, a while back. But I think that was human.]
And I promise I could go up there. I could ask for a needle and thread. I could ask for that and they have it. Or a, or a, uhm…three little boxes that all fit in each other. Those keys from IKEA, to—to—they tighten…. They’d have that. Like your grandma’s [unintelligible], but they’re our age.
[Go up there. I dare you.]
Ten—that’s ten, right? That’s ten yet. And I could go. I could keep going. Cat people is a whole, it’s a personality and a lifestyle. You’re INTJ, PJ, CAT-J, your type. Dog—dog, it’s different, dog people, they’re different, they’re just people but with dogs, but not so much Dog People. And the dogs more, the dogs take the form of the master. Your dog inherits. Your dog gets your personality. With cats it’s reversed, and cats are a hive mind. It’s the Borg! [sci-fi voice droning]
This is cat people. This is cat people. My mom got a cat. Oh, my God. I have to—I have to—
[I got a frog in my throat, at this point, and started coughing. I think I startled my neighbour, because that was the end of the cat people. I heard the door open and shut, then quieter conversation—something about scallions—from street level.]
Full disclosure: this monologue has been edited for boring bits, and for shit I didn’t quite catch, so I put down what sounded right.
* I probably misheard that, but “banjaxed” is a funny word. I couldn’t resist writing it down.