Here’s the premise for a recent obsession. I have a friend who is, in many ways, everything I want to be. He’s equal parts intelligent and wisecracking, and he dresses in that incredibly stylish not-trying-but-always-looking-fabulous way that certain Californians seem to be born with. I distinctly remember sitting with him at a picnic table one warm day, two cat tattoos peeking out from the hem of his shorts, and thinking, Man, that looks cool. And, I could never pull that off.
I’m gifted Megan Lynn Kott’s book of temporary cat tattoos (Cattoos!) and I feel like it might be my window of opportunity to become that guy, that no-effort, hot guy. (Yes, I think that temporary cat tattoos are effortlessly cool — go with me on this.) Subtlety has never been my forte. I cover myself in them.
Once I’ve slapped on these puppies (er, kitties), I feel kind of cool, I guess. But mostly I just feel itchy.
Oh, no. Oh, this not good.
I forget that it’s Valentine’s Day and saunter into the bar and restaurant below my apartment. The few bottom-of-the-barrel types in establishment seem decidedly alone, depressed, and well on their way to blacking out — despite that fact that it’s just a little past 8 p.m. So I plop down at the bar, trying to look like I’m friendly and open to conversation, not like I’ve just stumbled into that saddest place on Earth.
While I wait to see a menu I sit on my hands to keep from scratching my itchy arms. I make a mental list of everything that I’m allergic to: Citrus. Bees. Probably these cattoos.
Nobody wants to talk to me or my tattoos. My skin is hot. I dream about scrubbing off the tattoos.
My favorite bartender points out that I have a full sleeve of fake cat tattoos and that I’m acting weird.
“Shh,” I hiss. “I’m trying to make new friends.”
At long last, a very drunk, very loud couple corners me. They immediately ask me about the tattoos.
Here’s a question for those of you who have lots of visible tattoos: Have you ever had a conversation with a stranger that didn’t begin with you explaining your ink? All night it’s the only thing anyone wanted to talk to me about.
But it’s not irritating. Without any prompting from me, the glorious giant of a man in the couple tells me about all the cats he has owned and loved in his 70 years on this planet. His chatter is frequently peppered with little gems from his companion such as, “That cat was scrappy as hell — looked like one of his ears was sliding off — but we loved him!” We go on like this for a bit longer before the woman claps excitedly and says, “You just get it! You’re a crazy-ass cat lady!”
Here’s something that might surprise you, or that you might not like, but hey: When people utter the phrase “crazy cat lady” around me — even in jest — I have to suppress vomit. I like animals. I’m not crazy (says me, the person covered in sticky cat tattoos trying to engage someone — anyone — in conversation).
But when the woman says, “You are a crazy-ass cat lady!” I don’t throw up. I almost want to hug her. (Just kidding, I’m dead inside.)
But I did feel a little pride! I was a crazy-ass lady! This (faux) stature I had for loving something so much that I would get it inked into me made me feel happy. Liking cats isn’t something you just do because you’re senile, or a woman, or single, or because you live alone. It’s just like having any other interest. And if it’s important enough for you to get it tattooed on your body, good for you, you crazy-ass lady! (I let myself have a moment of this grandiose sense of self before remembering, You dope, you didn’t get any tattoos. You’re sitting here having an allergic reaction. Go home and bathe.)
I end up chatting with the couple on and off for the rest of the night. They’re my neighbors, and we’ve never approached each other before. Now we are cat-buddies.
The temporary tattoos won’t come off. I go about my life with sticky ghosts of cat faces pulling on my arm hair and rubbing off into my sheets at night.
My effortlessly cool friend asks to hang out again.
I wear long sleeves.
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About the author: Laura Jaye Cramer is a freelance writer and ballet dancer based out of San Francisco. When she isn’t busy tending to her sweet little cat baby, she can be found drooling over artifacts in a museum, building a shrine to Dolly Parton, or eating a trough of guacamole. Stalk her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.