I’ve been feeding this stray cat for a few months now. I suppose he’s no longer a stray, really, then. He’s sort of my cat. My cat who has never let me touch him, though he’s warmed to me considerably since those first encounters. (Warmed: he’ll stay on the porch when I open the door, vs. bolting across the yard if I look at him. Only recently he’s started to meow at me. Warmed.)
He’s skinny and black & white with the adorably Hitler-like facial coloring around his kitty mouth that has earned him the name of “Kitler.” (Cats-that-look-like-Hitler. It’s a thing.)
As far as I know, he could be a she.
Like I said, we aren’t that close.
I feed him before I leave the house most mornings. He stays just far enough away on the porch to keep me from coming near. As I put down the food and walk away, he cautiously approaches. I say, “it’s okay.” I say, “I’m not going to hurt you.” I say, “I love you, Kitler.”
He cowers. He crouches. If I get too close, he runs. This is our routine.
Today I saw the movie Beginners at the Moxie, with my friend-turned-boyfriend-turned-ex-boyfriend-turned-friend. (The savvy reader might reply, “which one?” Shut up, savvy reader.)
I used to love romantic comedies. Many a high school hour was passed sighing along to When Harry Met Sally. You’ve Got Mail. Notting Hill.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve developed a taste for what my parents call “Moxie movies”: the melancholy, atypical romances like Eternal Sunshine. Once. Lars & the Real Girl.
But always in a glass-half-full sort of way: where love wins and it “works out”…even for quirky, flawed characters who dress in thrift-wear.
Now I watch a movie like Beginners—with themes of love & loss & death, where the protagonist chronicles past relationships and their expiration dates, with no wide-eyed hope that something better will come along—and I will myself to become more comfortable with the idea that sometimes the girl goes home by herself at the end of the movie.
She says hello to her cat(s) and she faces a Sunday evening alone. Alone, alone. Not without friends, not without family, not without work to do, not without fun to be had. But alone, beneath all of that. With plenty of quirky, flawed storylines behind her, all of them ending the same way.
No “don’t cry, Shopgirl, don’t cry.” No last-minute interrupted wedding. No almost-midnight-on-new-years Bill Crystal speech. You aren’t Meg Ryan. You aren’t Reese Witherspoon. You aren’t (thank god) Katherine Heigl (I mean, who is her agent?!).
You are the girl who feeds the stray cat, with a sigh, “maybe someday you’ll love me.”