Der Katz Who Came For Chanukah

I finished this story on 12/27/12 (and, except for the Postscript, it should be read as if it was posted on that date). Unfortunately, the story was originally illustrated with photos, and no one, including the owners of this site, seems to be able to post them in their proper place in the story (or at all).

The title harkens to a book title from my youth, written by a curmudgeonly critic named Cleveland Amory, who loved animals but had no use for people.

Lest anyone dare make a snarky comparison, let it be known that Gatemouth has no use for animals either, other than Harpo, the majestic silver Schnauzer of his childhood. 

This holiday season, Gate found himself haunted by the lost memory from childhood of a commercial plugging a holiday movie from the old “CBS Children’s Hour” series called “JT.”

BUBBE: What you want for Christmas,…chile?

JT: A cat;

BUBBE: What

JT: I want me this cat I found.   

Luckily, thought Gatey, this would never happen in our house. Three years ago, when he was six, Dybbuk stopped asking his mother (then 48) for a brother, coming up with a new proposal.

“Can I have a dog for Chanukah?”

Menopause could no longer be used as an excuse for a negative answer.

Domestic Partner co-owns a Toy Maltese with her sister in the Slope, and though she now lacked residential custody, she had been adamant for years in opposing similar occasional suggestions from Gatey, who had envisioned himself strutting through Brownstone Brooklyn together with a reincarnation of the strikingly handsome silver Schnauzer of his youth.

“No,” said DP, “that would be cheating on Freckles.”

Now, faced with Dybbuk’s request, DP treated it like any other questions whose answer would prompt a tantrum.

She told him to ask his father.

“Dybbuk has a question for you.”

“Can I have a dog?”

“Of course you can have a dog; every boy should have a dog.”

Suddenly, Gatey heard a growling noise; the growl had an Eastern European accent and was punctuated by periodic whispers of “nisht nisht on der hundt.” 

Gatey turned to the source of the growl.

“You don’t tell a boy you’ve told he can’t have siblings that he can’t have a puppy. Our choice is between going to a kennel or going to Kazakhstan.”

Defeated, DP then proceeded to do her research and determined that the single worst choice for house with a child was a Miniature Schnauzer.

But since he and DP were unwilling to endure another Seder at his Gentile sister-in-law's, featuring croutons in the salad, the Gate household was obligated to host the family Seder, and Gatey’s mother’s allergies ruled out any breed which shed.

DP was adamant upon a Border Terrier

But hotter heads prevailed.

One day DP turned to Gate and gave in, declaring “I’ve come to the realization that every time, as is inevitable, the dog did wrong, you would sigh mournfully and moan ‘you wanted a Border Terrier; this wouldn’t be happening if we’d only gotten a Schnauzer.’ Having been born a Jew in Poland, I have too much rachmonis to ever burden another creature with the baggage of his heritage.”

The next step was choosing a breeder. The closest was in Brooklyn, and he was also the cheapest, in the lower half of three figures; but something smelled wrong. He was a bit too gansta, and Schnauzers were decidedly not a gansta breed.

The American Kennel Club had a checklist of what a breeder should be conveying along with the dog, and the dealer’s list contained but one of the items.

"You think that stuff is really worth an extra 1600 bucks?"

It was pretty much the canine equivalent of a quitclaim deed, and Schnauzers are not a quitclaim breed.

The next dealer was the closest in Jersey, but Gatey gave up at the point when he reached page six of their screening application with no end in sight.

He finally located a vet near Budd Lake who bred pups on the side. As he drove down her block, he passed a house where reindeer were playing on the lawn.

DP and Dybbuk immediately knew they were going to the right place; Gatey only thought about Lyme Disease.

They shortly arrived at a corner house where a majestic bitch not named DP was Lording (or rather, “Ladying”) it over the family manor and barked us a greeting.

Once inside, the breeder handed them pups for inspection. Gate was adamant he wanted a salt and pepper, like the silver Schnauzer of his youth. One pup was effusive in its affection for DP. Another barked its enthusiasm for Gate.

“The one on your lap is a salt and pepper,” the breeder said to Gate. “The one she has is a black and silver.”

“Yours is too barky,” said DP, “we’ll take this one.”

Gate frowned.

“Sunshine, the black and silver is only 200 dollars more, and well worth it,” said DP; “that noisy thing on your lap with the gray coat will have to live all its life with the burden that he is to be another Harpo, which he never can be. This one is a dog of a different color.”

She handed her pup to Gate, and it immediately bit him on the finger.

A Miniature Schnauzer is known as “The Dog With The Human Brain,” but Cerberus’ human appeared to have an intelligence level somewhere between Rick Perry and Dan Quayle; he was mostly only smart when he felt like it, usually when there was no other alternative.

Toilet training, in the middle of winter, was a stone bitch, even though the dog was a male.

DP laughed, and repeated her mantra:

“You wanted a Schnauzer!”

The dog learned virtually no tricks (Harpo, who loved grapes and slices of Granny Smith apples, could catch his favorite foods being tossed in midair), but it did manage to wheedle its way into its mistresses’ bed in less than two weeks (far less time than it had taken Gate), while ignoring the boy almost entirely. DP tried to train the dog into sleeping in the boy’s bed by sleeping there herself and bringing the dog with her, but this only taught the dog to sleep with DP wherever she slept.

The dog soon became a religious Jew. On Friday nights, DP would get the Shabbus candles from under the sink, and the dog would immediately sit itself by the kitchen table, gathering with the rest of the guests and waiting patiently through the prayers. At the sound of hamotzi lechem min haaretz, he would immediately bark Amen, and wait to be tossed his piece of challah bread.

DP set about writing a Jewish niched children’s story entitled “The Shabbus Schnauzer.”

The dog’s preference was the loaf from Shelsky’s, but he was not all that particular about food. By three, Cerberus had started to resemble a loaf himself; a fat furry meatloaf. His $200 worth of black hair had mostly turned grey, and he was often mistaken for Gatey, whose hair had done much the same.   

The love of the dog’s life was DP, who started proclaiming “My other child is a Miniature Schnauzer.”

With Gatey, the dog argued, using his large vocabulary of Schnauzer noises, trying to provoke his dad into chasing him around the house. Often the dog would pick up his favorite toy, a Jack Russell hand puppet named Mango he had stolen from Dybbuk, and bring it to his dad. Cerberus would bark and shake the toy teasingly. Gatey would then put the puppet on his hand, and Mango would greet Cerberus, only to be attacked and have canine teeth stuck deep into its fetlocks, sometimes drawing blood from Gatey’s right hand.

“You wanted a Schnauzer,” shrugged DP.

Dybbuk, he would mostly ignore, except for a perfunctory greeting when he came home from school.

With his eyebrows, sarcastic manner and love of cigar shaped chew sticks, Cerberus soon acquired the knick-name of Groucho Barks.  

But these days, Cerberus is the least of the concerns at Carroll Garden’s House of Gatemouth, as readers of Gate’s Facebook page may have gathered:

 

Gatemouth shared a link from Domestic Partner:

DOMESTIC PARTNER:  Sandy, the cat, still needs a home. Pls help me find her one. She is cuddly, super smart , and an accomplished beggar. She is good in bed and very funny. Great as a post divorce or a break up cat. She could also be a muse for an artist. She has a remarkable post modern, Fellini- like beauty and an ironic world view. I can stare at her for hours. Finally she is great with children. Dybbbuk and her are the best buddies. Pls help me pimp her out!!! Pls, pls, pls!

GATEMOUTH:  please help us put this madness to an end

Joseph Hayon likes this.

Gatemouth you want the cat, joe? you can have the cat. Please take the cat

Joseph Hayon Can I change her registration?

 

The best explanation for this state of affairs comes perhaps from a Facebook post by Gayle, the former Director and founder of Dybbuk’s former pre-school, who was now ensconced at a chain of elite nursery schools, where she recently did the Gates the favor of hastening the admission of DP’s grandniece. Gayle’s work location explains why DP could not easily refuse her a favor in return. Gayle’s home location in Brighton Beach explains the rest.

 

[picture of a striking cat, the bottom left side of whose  face is a far lighter color than the rest (in the manner of Pat Caddell)  being chucked under the chin]

GAYLE: This little sweetie was living in front of my apartment building. Apparently she arrived after the storm. She is an absolute sweetheart and clearly a lost house cat - she loves to be petted, cuddled, picked up and she is not street smart. I couldn't take her to my apartment because my cat won't accept another cat (she loved her brother may he rest in peace, but won't accept other cats - man I sound like a cat lady), So I have been calling her Sandy and for now she is staying with a friend of mine (thank you DP a million times).

LAURA: Fascinating divided face!

GAYLE: The first few nights I saw her it was so dark that I didn't know how fascinating her coloring is.

 

The request came just before Chanukah. Gate told DP “no,” in no uncertain terms, as his mother’s allergies to shedding dogs were nothing in comparison to her allergies to felines. Gate’s mom could enter a house where a cat was locked in the basement for the day and still immediately be aware of its presence as she sneezed and broke into hives. It is perhaps no coincidence that the  hated second wife of his mother’s father kept cats.

“Gatemouth I cannot say ‘no’ to this woman. She reminded me that I never called her after the storm and offered her a shower. She cried. She moaned. She called a marker. Anyway, I’ve already lined up a place for the cat.  She will not even be in the house for even one night.”

After the first night, which featured Cerberus’ first introduction to claws and an emergency trip to the vet, the Cat and its accoutrements were confined to Dybbuk’s room and the cat immediately began to sleep with Dybbuk in his bed and render the boy her unceasing expressions of love and devotion.  

DP assured Gate that an animal this remarkable looking (her face recalled Picasso’s cubist period) would certainly have a chip and its owners would surely claim it.

 

GAYLE: DP brought her to the vet - turns out Sandy's name is Cassidy and she is micro-chipped and is from a home in Far Rockaway - but the phone number is disconnected. I imagine her family really misses her and wants to find her as she was clearly loved. The vet is trying to contact the owners (privacy laws forbid them from giving out the owners name) but Far Rockaway was devastated by the storm...anyway...if the owners can't be found then little Cassidy/Sandy needs a forever home. Cassidy loves to be loved, picked up, cuddled, spoken to, and well, she is exceptionally loving and smart.

 

Having grown up in a Communist country as the daughter of her region’s most prominent currency smuggler, DP had vast experience dealing with uncooperative bureaucrats. Her first driver’s license, acquired in exchange for a bottle of cognac, and since renewed by authorities in two different nations without ever passing a road test, was living proof. Soon DP had the owner’s name and address.

Net research by the man who found David Storobin’s writings and Buddy Scotto’s endorsement of Dan O’Connor revealed that the owner who put the chip in was living in Chapel Hill. However, Gatey also located the Hasidic landlord in Far Rock, and DP spoke with him in Yiddish and got the owners’ number.

They told DP they had lived with the cat for two weeks about six years ago and hadn’t seen it since and had no interest in a reunion.

DP then told Gatey she would post a picture of the admittedly remarkable looking animal; adding “this stunning pussy cat will be snapped up immediately. People will be banging down the doors offering us money.”  

Gatey then showed here a YouTube video of Chris Rock:

It’s important for men to get their money right. Women, it’s important for you to get your money right, but it’s not as important for you as it is for men. Why, women? Because no one will ever not fuck you cause you’re broke. Your pussy will never be turned down for financial reasons. It ain’t gonna happen. That’s right. Pussy is like Visa; accepted everywhere. Next time you got no cash go “Do  you take pussy?” “Of course we take pussy. Who doesn’t take pussy? How much pussy you got?”

Brother, I love being a man, but I just wish I had a pussy. I really do. I wish I had a pussy just for negotiating purposes. Just so when I’m negotiating a deal, I could put the motherfucker on the table, like “OK, what about now? [Long pause] “It’s a deal”  

Then Gate showed her another:

Women are like “Hey, if you don’t take me on a nice vacation, I’m gonna find a cute guy and I’m gonna pay for shit.” But that only lasts for thirty days, cause women don’t like paying for shit. That’s right, pussy costs money; dick is free. Any money you spend on dick is a bad investment.

DP looked puzzled.

DP:  So, what’s your point? That black men are almost as misogynistic as you? I know that; I read Mary Alice Miller; unlike some people around here, she can write.

GATE: No, my point is that you may call this cat a “ pussy” all you want, but that don’t make it so. Everybody may take pussy, and pussy may be accepted everywhere, but nobody takes cats. Cats are a deal breaker. Cats are like dick. They are a bad investment and are constantly turned down.

DP: On that, you can surely speak from experience.   

Undaunted, DP hit Facebook.

 

DOMESTIC PARTNER: I am fostering a girl cat abandoned after Sandy in Broghton Beach. She is gorgeous and very friendly to everyone but Groucho Barx , the top dog. Pls help me place her in a good home!!!

 

Her friends joined in, not always accurately:

 

[Picture of the cat, with a hand fodling the back of its neck]

MARISA:  This sweet cat was displaced by the hurricane and was aptly named Sandy. She was found on Brighton Beach (but lived on Staten Island, so she's got quite a mysterious tale to tell). She is well cared for in her foster home and has been to the vet who reports she's healthy and gentle. But she cannot stay where she is now: the reigning dog isn't having it, though the human family is starting to fall in love. If you'd like to meet her and see if she is the cat for you, please message me for details - they need to place her soon!.

DOMESTIC PARTNER: What a lovely cat...wish I could take her?.

[another chucking under the chin picture]

GATEMOUTH: Our current tenant by sufferance  

Christina Wilkinson and Anne Sabin like this.

GATEMOUTH you want it; please take it

 

DOMESTIC PARTNER:  SANDY is a beautiful short-haired tortoiseshell cat who is I'm fostering. She was found wandering the streets after the superstorm and is chipped, but the original owner lives out-of-state and has no interest in reclaiming her. She purrs as soon as you walk in the room and is eager to sit on a lap and be petted. She loves people but would prefer to be the only pet in the home. She would love to be able to access the outdoors, but would also do well as an indoor cat with lots of sunshine. She’s tiny and kitten-like, but according to the vet, she’s a healthy 6 year old. I cannot keep her due to allergies. If interested, please Facebook message me. I can answer any questions, send more pictures, or set up a time for you to come meet her. She is the best cat ever and I really want to find her a loving home! PLEASE REPOST!

[still another chin-chuck pose]

GAYLE: Sweet Little Sandy still needs a forever home.

i wish i could keep her so much but my cat is a senior cat and simply does not accept other cats other than her brother may he rest in kitty cat peace.

 able to access the outdoors, but would also do well as an indoor cat with lots of sunshine. She’s tiny and kitten-like, but according to the vet, she’s a healthy 6 year old. I cannot keep her due to allergies. If interested, please Facebook message me or call me at 917-607-4399. I can answer any questions, send more pictures, or set up a time for you to come meet her. She is the best cat ever and I really want to find her a loving home! PLEASE REPOST!

[another picture of the cat with the split-screen face, juxtaposed against a similar Picasso human from the Cubist Period]

 DOMESTIC PARTNER: SANDY in life and art!

Sal Cannestra, Patricia Alvarez and Lisa Giordano like this.

GATEMOUTH: if you like it, adopt the damn cat!

 

Ari Lion: SANDY is a beautiful short-haired tortoiseshell cat who my friend Domestic Partner k is fostering. She was found wandering the streets after the superstorm and is chipped, but the original owner lives out-of-state and has no interest in reclaiming her. She purrs as soon as you walk in the room and is eager to sit on a lap. She loves people but would prefer to be the only pet in the home. She loves the outdoors, but would also do well as an indoor cat with lots of sunshine. She’s tiny and kitten-like, but according to the vet, she’s a healthy 6 year old. DP cannot keep her due to allergies. If interested, please Facebook message DP. She can answer any questions, send more pictures, or set up a time for you to come meet her. PLEASE REPOST!

Domestic Partner and 3 others like this.

GATEMOUTH: if you like it, adopt the damn cat!

DOMESTIC PARTBER: Money back guaranteed : I am willing to take the cat back if things don't work out btw Sandy and her prospective owner!

Michael Hopkins I am in a different state but I am interested in claiming her.

GATEMOUTH: where are you?

DOMESTIC PARTNER: He’s in Arizona.

[back to the chin chuck pictures]

DOMESTIC PARTNER: Sandy, again. Pls share. Thanks!

 

DOMESTIC PARTNER: There is one born This very minute. Pls help me unload a spectacular cat named Sandy!

Joan: What is going on with you and cats? You're a dog person.

DOMESTIC PARTNER: I think I am bi... Know anybody who can use a cat???

Joan: I am highly allergic so I must not even discuss this for fear of sympathetic allergy attack. Are they living in your house?

DOMESTIC PARTNER: It is only one cat. Pls see her pictures and share with your Facebook friends. Really good cat!

 

DOMESTIC PARTNER:  Home cooked gulash for anyone who comes up with an idea on how to unload a cat. I have been fostering a Sandy displaced cat and things are getting hairy betw her and Cerberus. Gatemouth ain't thrilled either.... Creative marketing ideas, tricks, shady business practice are all welcomed. Pls help!!! Thanks!

 

On the Saturday night between Yoissele’s birthday and his briss (also known as Goyishe New Years), in the hopes of getting rid of the cat, the Gates held a dinner in honor of the niece of Dybbuk’s chess instructor, a five foot tall 26 year old video maker who is apparently a cult figure in Israel, as well as being a possible pink inspiration for Mindy Meyer.  She brought along her seven foot tall photographer boyfriend.

Together, they are most famous for once conducting a naked protest in front of the Chief Rabbi’s office.

Though they shot an entire reel in front of Gatey’s record collection, they had no interest whatsoever in the cubist feline. 

Meanwhile, DP and Dybbuk have grown more and more attached. Yesterday, Dybbuk, whose Chanukah request included that $50 be donated in his name to Schnauzer rescue, requested his aunt to take in Cerberus so that we could keep Sandy. Dybbuk now gets up every morning to feed the cat, something he’s never done for his dog. He also informed his Grandma that she was not allergic, but if she was, that was why we had Medicare. He then got off the phone and looked at his dad, shuffled his feet and shrugged:

“I hope you weren’t expecting any inheritance.”

DP started crying; “I think I love Sandy too.”

Cerberus has mixed feelings; there was interesting new food to try, though only til he got caught, but his access to his favorite window was now restricted. Further, his bowel movements were no longer extracting completely, necessitating that he be bathed in the sink, in turn necessitating that the dishes actually be done. He seemed very tired and the vet informed the Gates that he had caught a parasite common only to cats.

One night Dybbuk had a cold, and to make matters worse, the heat in his room had stopped working. Nonethless, he would not agree to move to the family room couch until someone agreed to sleep with Sandy and keep her company. DP was even sicker, leaving Gatey to sleep in the cold.

“Don’t worry Dad, Sandy will keep you warm; she's hotter than ICarly.”

Gatey got into bad, but the wary cat, suspecting his treachery, refused to join him, instead spending all night under the bed, occasionally reaching up to grab Gatey bare feet, hanging off the edge, with her sharp claws.

POSTSCRIPT: Shortly, thereafter Dybbuk got sick of Cerberus barking outside his door all night and his room always smelling of cat food and soiled litter, while DP got sick of unsoiling the litter and the fact that her bad cold suddenly disappeared whenever she left the house.

 

DOMESTIC PARTNER: Sandy, the cat, found her match, her soulmate, her other half, her beshert. Thanks to all the facebook friends,  for sharing the posts and championing her. She is moving to Sands Point with the most lovely woman ever. They met today and it was love at the first glance. The Sandy saga is over, the happy ever after happened to her. Again, thanks everyone for posting and pleading on behalf of Sandy. BTW, her name will be changed in order to purge her past... Ha, who knew one could purge the past. It , unfortunetely, happens only to cats...

 On Saturday, January 5th, 2012, Sandy was adopted by a prosperous couple in Sand’s Point. Taking her last look at the estate now serving as Sandy’s new home, DP turned to Gatey and sighed, “if only you could have taken the cat back home and dropped me here instead.”