Animal magnetism

My bride came into the city and we saw a play. We took our seats and chatted-up the two pretty, young girls sitting next to us. At one point, the girl sitting next to me and I locked eyes. That thing happened.

That thing.

The play started. Sitting just inches apart, I could feel the bright filaments.

At the play’s penultimate plot reveal, the audience gasped. She discreetly reached over and rested her hand on my arm. I don’t think it was premeditated. It was a genuine reaction to what was happening on stage. And that thing. I got woozy.

After the show, I gathered my stuff and *ran* out of the theater. I didn’t say goodnight. Things are going well for my bride and me. I don’t need that kind of noise in my life. And of all the noises that can haunt your waking hours, that’s a particularly loud one.

It never ends, does it? It can lie dormant for a long time but it’s never completely dead. It’s always there, waiting. Biology.


The family dog—the one that has bit, snarled and lashed out at me for the past six years—has gone to that big dog pound in the sky. Or hell. Who knows? She was sitting on the sofa, rolled off onto the floor and couldn’t stand up. We rushed her to the vet. The doctor said it was likely a brain tumor, which might account for her aggression.

That was about a month ago. We recently got two cats. I’ve gone from being attacked and bloodied for no good reason to this:

They’re not bonded yet. Oliver wants to be best pals in the worse way but Alice isn’t having any of it. There’s some hissing and snarling, but she’s coming around.

He snuck up onto the chair while she was asleep just to be near her.

Not surprisingly, this little indiscretion work her up.

Boy, was she angry. You can’t just go up to a sleeping girl and sniff her lady parts and not expect to get smashed in the face when she wakes up. His clumsy attempts to connect remind me of your humble narrator in his formative years. Same suave elegance. Same success rate.


The Chinese had a method of execution called Death by a Thousand Cuts that was banned in 1905. One cut won’t kill you. But 1,000 will, eventually. Bukowski has a great poem about how it’s not an atom bomb or a heart attack that kills a man, it’s a broken shoelace with no time left. The accumulation of small indignities until you finally crumble. Even Nietzsche spoke of slow death. The little things are starting to grind me to a pulp. Like this fool:

Or the woman on the rowing machine at the gym, rowing slowly with her left hand while texting feverishly with her right. Or an unwanted pheromone attack in a theater. I should ignore it all. I didn’t need that parking space or the rowing machine. I hate the rowing machine! Why do I give all the little nothings so much power over me?


They are superior, photogenic animals.The light loves them.


70 thoughts on “Animal magnetism

  1. Who can resist beauty? “I’ve seen enough art. I don’t need to see anymore.” No. Never. Just don’t touch the installations, please.
    I can’t recall the last time a woman clearly expressed interest in me. My wife is convinced a former colleague was into me, but I never bought it. She was just nice.

    • She wasn’t just being nice. You’re sweetly naive. That’s probably what she found so appealing. And NYC women are a zany bunch. She only felt attracted because my wife was there! If I’d been alone and tried to chat her up she’d have called the police.

  2. Well naturally you still have the swag, M. I’m sure that was as nice as drinking a cinnamon whisky on the rocks after a gruelling yet successful day at work. That particular buzz you experienced should keep a spring in your step and a glint in your eye for a couple of months!

    So your nemesis has gone and now you have a new hat?

    Is that Redneck parking? We get that here. Total bloody ignorance. It just fuels you to want to start slashing tyres.

    • Do you tension was a little difficult to appreciate with my wife sitting there! I’m not that bold. And, as I said above, I doubt any of this would have happened if I had been sitting there all alone. You only want what you can’t have.

      Nemesis is a good way to put it. That’s exactly what I felt like. I tried for years and that dog just wasn’t having any of my bullshit.

      If you want to park like that, do it on the far end of the lot. Right next to the building makes you a proper idiot.

  3. I live in Phoenix — if someone parked like that near a building they really would get their tires slashed, and probably some bullet holes in the windshield for a finishing touch. (Not a lot of Stoics here.)

    Our cat likes to perch on shoulders too, what’s with that?

    • As I may have mentioned to you in the past I’ve spent time in Phoenix and, yeah, I can totally see that happening. And he grabbed the nearest spots! What a narcissist.

      And speaking of narcissism…cats do that so the won’t be IGNORED. Actually, I was lying down watching a movie and he plopped right on top of me. I’m just another piece of furniture who can also open cans.

  4. Why would some girl telepathically flirt with you with your wife sitting next to you? That kind of woman is Trouble.

    Those kinds of things annoy me, too. Taking up two spots, etc. It’s so aggravating when humans are so me-centric they have no awareness of the world around them. That’s a good reason to flatten someone’s tires. Not that I would. I’m just saying.

    • It’s crazy! And if I’d been sitting there all by myself she wouldn’t have given me the time of day. She IS Trouble. But über-pretty.

      Not surprisingly, that truck was outside the Texas Roadhouse in Holmdale on Rt 35. NJ drivers. What to do?

  5. Feliway. – it’s a plug in with pheronomes (or however you spell that). Mellows the cats right out. Humans can’t smell it and don’t react to it. When my DD acquired two new cats, the current incumbent went wack-a-doodle…the Feliway plug-in worked almost instantly. (She may have had two, in different areas of the house.) Worth a try, for everyone’s peace of mind.

    • Are you recommending Feliway for my cats or loony NYC girls who hit on husbands? I enjoy the attention from the cats! Remember, I was treated terribly by that dog. It’s nice to be loved. And come to think of it, I don’t completely mind the attention from loony NYC girls, either. So I’ll pass on the Feliway.

    • Isn’t focusing on the negative part of the human condition? Why is it such an effort to stay positive? My mom was an exception. She had two terrible husbands and did work that was uninspiring and unfulfilling. But she always had a sunny disposition. She maintained a very Zen approach to life without actually knowing what that is. But for most of us, it’s the dark negativity that front and center. Sad.

      • I was just kidding about the negativity and the truck nuts, but you’re actually right, in fact there’s a recent book called Hardwiring Happiness that speaks to that very fact, that we are “hardwired” to focus on the negative as an evolutionary survival mechanism. The same book also contends that this negativity bias can be “rewired” by making concerted efforts to focus on the positive, and that meditation techniques like those found in mystical traditions facilitate this. Very Zen indeed!

      • You can’t imagine how relieved I am to hear I’m genetically predisposed to gloom and it’s not a personal flaw. I’ll still fight against it but I won’t feel bad when I fall.

  6. I am sorry for your wife and daughters that their pet died That happens and actually it was a good way for the dog to go. Your family did not have to watch as the dog’s health declined in old age.

    Now you have two cats and as I remember you had cats during your single life and cats are your pet of choice. And yes, your newbies are beautiful and very photogenic.

    As for the young girl who was brash and stirred up your hormones, I think that is probably more prevalent among middle aged men than one would believe. And like you, most men run for their life.

    • That dog went QUICK. I don’t think she ever knew what hit her. That’s kind of like how I want to go. Out for an evening walk or reading the paper and *bam* gone. Nice and clean.

      I did, indeed, have two cats. Two siamese. They were my pals. There were long stretches when they’re all I had to talk to. Bless them.

      The most shocking aspect of your third comment is the grim realization that I *am* middle-aged! I never thought of myself as such but you can’t gloss over a number. Middle age. I don’t like it. My vanity and narcissism is having a tough time accepting it.

      • It is a shock, Mark. Welcome to the aging the factor. It keeps reminding one of lost youth, looks and opportunity . I went from “middle aged” to elderly and I can tell you it is not funny. The Golden Years is more than laughable. I don’t look my age and get around like someone twenty years younger or more. This according to my MD. But I have afib and it limits what I can eat and do and it causes me to hate my myself. On the other hand I have awful depression that I have had since my twenties so, be thankful about what and where you are in life, now.

      • Thanks for the reality check. I am appreciative that I’m relatively healthy (aside from some aches and pains) but the onset of middle-age is the least amount of fun a person can have.Trying to keep people young is a multi-billion dollar industry. I’m beginning to see why.

  7. It’s never completely dead – until we are. Biology is a bitch, innit? You’re dead right that if you had been alone, or with a male companion, she’d have been less likely to be so aggressive. You are safer, while simultaneously a more attractive ‘hard target’ (if you’ll forgive the double entendre).

    Sorry, not sorry, about the dog. That creature was as miserable, or more miserable, than you – and that’s saying a lot. My sister had a nasty pekingese that eventually went blind and hung itself. A brain tumor at 5-6 years old would have been a far more merciful ending than what we all, and that damn dog, endured for 12+ years.

    • I don’t want to characterize her behavior as aggressive. That makes it sound like she was predatory or had evil intent. I don’t think that was the case. It was just a chemical reaction. Had she tried slip me her phone number, that’d be a different story. You always want what you can’t have. That was the root my appeal to her. And vice versa!!!

      I never actually wished the dog dead—that’s a little dark even for me—but I can’t say I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I iced out my own father. The dog was nothing.

  8. Whenever I see someone who’s parked like that, I always have a diabolical thought to write them a really snarky note and leave it on their window. But then luckily a voice inside my head tells me that the guy is currently staring at me and will beat me to a pulp. I’m still afraid of the school yard bully.

    • I always want to mouth-off to people who can’t park properly or yammer into their cell phones in public spaces but so far, I’ve been smart enough to keep my mouth shut. You can get yourself in some pretty serious trouble. Some folks don’t take criticism likely.

  9. I wish you well, sweetpea. The MITM still can’t tell when women are flirting with him. At least, that’s what he tells me. *LOL*

    Sorry about the dog, but it is good that it was quick!

    I hate idiots that park that way. Today I watched as a “lady” parked her car in the striped zone NEXT to the handicapped parking space! She got out of her car as if it was the most natural thing to do and went right into the market!

    We used to have cats, but they’re off the list of possibilities now because I now have asthma! *sigh*

    • Nothing is worse than when you think a woman is flirting with you but it turns out to have been the furthest thing on her mind. It’s very embarrassing! Don’t ask me how I know. Just take my word for it.

      I’m very sorry to hear that you’re allergic to cats. That must leave a gaping hole in your psyche. No cats! Oh, woe!

  10. Your kitties are wonderful.

    That truck driver is douche nozzle.

    And I am glad you walked away from that Big Problem. Right in front of your wife? She has issues. But you walked away, so you’re my hero. You had to deal with biology, and you did.

    • I think it happened BECAUSE my wife was there! Where were all these flirty cute girls when I was single? I have no use for them anymore. And I don’t know any man would’ve responded with their wives sitting right there next to them. So I don’t want to be congratulated for that.

  11. You finally got cats, hurrah!

    I’m not even going to comment on the trollop who would flirt with a man out with his wife…

    I had to ask myself the same question – “Why do I give all the little nothings so much power over me?” – the other day when I just stopped myself from getting up and slapping a woman for chattering in the audience of a Community Council meeting (I was trying to take the minutes and couldn’t hear for her droning). Why attend a meeting if you’re going to chat all the way through it?!

    So why do we? I think it’s because we have enough empathy and decency not to do such things, and find it difficult when others don’t afford us/everyone else the same level of courtesy. I am now going to tell myself they they are too stupid to be able to do the right thing, hopefully that will make me feel sorry for them, rather than want to kill them.

    • I am making a concerted effort to put the little things outside of my purview and not let them gnaw away at my guts. But it’s not easy. Every day is a new set of challenges from, clueless and the narcissistic. A man yells into his mobile while on my bus. Someone cuts in line in front of me. There’s no end to it so it’s best to try to make peace with it. It ain’t easy. I’ll give you sympathy route a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • Good luck!
        I used to file this kind of thing as ‘material’ but we seem to be hothousing narcissists these days, so my mental filing cabinet feels on the point of exploding. Sometimes I think my only hope is to go and live in a cave and practise Zen meditation until this dystopian phase has run its course.

  12. I had an old cassette of Buk reading that very poem, think it was pretty easy to find, from a reading in Cali somewhere… You’re spot on about the young ‘uns, if you had been alone you’d have just been a dirty old man, lol… or maybe not?
    The Buddhist in me reminds me to let the assholes be assholes because it is perfectly within their right to be assholes and who am i to judge their assholishness, i deal with it every day when i pick my kid up from school and the “special ones” drive up the wrong side of the road thus creating chaos because they feel that they need not wait in the queue to pick up their spawn, that they can buck the line and do as they wish, today it happened and i sat patiently smiling at the woman glaring back at me as she realized i was not about to pull onto the curb so she could drive down the wrong side of the road, the I-mac was giggling as he watched her, she finally gave in…
    Congrats on the cats my friend, as you know you’ll find no better companions (sorry dog people), in a recent study they deprived both cats and dogs of food and human contact, when let into a room with a human and food the dogs all went for the food first and the human second, the cats did the exact opposite, so who exactly is our best friend? now to end this War and Peace of comments i give you this, tonight’s dinner, straight from the Rust Belt, Pork and Sauerkraut (in a Dutch Oven) over mashed potatoes…

    • *I* had that cassette, too! Ha. A cassette. Look at us. did you listen to it on the davenport and get a cold drink from the ice box, too? We’re on a slow slide.

      They were a lot younger than me an a lot prettier, too. I’m genuinely concerned what would’ve happened if my bride hadn’t been there and she’d have expressed an interest. I’d like to think I’d do the right thing–because can you imagine if I hadn’t and was discovered? It would’ve been the end of everything I care about. And for what? What do I get in return?

      It is within your absolute rights to criticize their assholeishness. It’s our divine right. And where would blogs be without pointing out the foolish and socially incompetent? Someone’s got to call these fools out. Why not us?

      Those cats are very happy to see me walk in the house. They come up to greet me and want to know how my day was and, hey, could I get a little scratch under behind my ear while you’re at it. They are a miracle compared to what I came from. My phone is filled with cat pics now. It’s PATHETIC.

      Them is some good eats. Got room at the table for one more?

  13. Glad to see you finally got a cat(s) to replace that Mark hating dog. The pics are greeting card quality.
    Regarding the young girl, as much as we want to believe we still have it in us, I think she has Daddy issues and you filled her void for two hours. I’ve met you, and you are a very nice approachable person. Now don’t you feel better.
    Regarding the parked truck, we really don’t know what caused that, a-holeness or necessity.
    Everyday we all do things that are very annoying to someone. Forgive and forget.

    • Yesterday morning I was reading the paper. One of the cats jumped up on my lap and settled in. I thought to myself, finally. I wait a long, long time for that.

      You say it’s daddy issues, I say it’s my astonishing aura. As soon as she sat in close proximity, she felt it. Was pulled in. Couldn’t help herself. How do you like those apples? Am I delusional or what?

      Why am I even LOOKING at that truck. As I said somewhere above, I didn’t need that spot. I was parked just fine. Why do I let those things grind me down. The problem isn’t the driver of that truck. It’s the driver inside my head.

  14. I had a moment like that in a taxi the other day with a younger Kazakh woman, but she didn’t put her hand on my arm. Had she done that I’d have found it intensely thrilling. I haven’t had anything like that for a long time, he sighed. However, your case is different.

    The cats are beautiful! Hope everyone can come to a non-incestuous happy familiy arrangement soon.

  15. Your writing was so deep-rooted interesting that no one has asked you what Play you and the wife was attending. What, pray tell, was the name of the Play that jolted this lovely, beautiful, young woman, inspiring her to grasp your arm?

    • Hi, Tom. Sorry for the late reply. I’ve been out of blogland for a bit. You’re going to be surprised when I tell you what we saw. It wasn’t actually a *play*, per se. It was a magic show. A magician in a small venue in Union Square doing mystical, sometimes creepy things. One of his best tricks was near the end of the show. The reveal stunned the audience a bit. A gasp.

  16. So, the girl fancied you… that’s okay. Your reaction was okay, too. Be glad you’ve still got the urge… and are not female and past menopause and don’t have it anymore… 🙂 Nice cats, very photogenic indeed.

  17. Those photos of you and the cats are priceless. Awww-factor overload! So sorry about your dog, though.

    I hear you on trying to contain those middle-aged cranky ways. That’s why I have a cat…whenever I find myself getting annoyed, I try to do what they do, not give a rat’s ass about anything. Very zen.

    • That’s a lovely new avatar you’ve got there. It’s so…I don’t know…YOU.

      I put the cats in the photos to distract. They make me look better than is real. What dog?

      I picture Maine a calm sea of tranquility. Like Canada. Do you have annoyances up there? I can’t imagine. (How’s that for being reduced to a stereotype?)

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