Years ago I worked with a cat lady. A peculiar sort of people are the cat ladies of this world, especially when separated from their pet(s) while at work. They long for them. Speak of nothing else. And this is how my story begins…

I was a bookseller at the time, working publicity events. That is, hobnobbing with authors, from the bona fide writers to the vanity press rejects. We’d drink, relax, get chummy and then I’d introduce them to the audience and orchestrate the book signing. A lovely job for a time (all things must pass). It was as a bookseller that I met a new employee. She was in her early 40s. And she was a cat lady.

As is the case with cat ladies (and cat people in general), I heard all manner of stories about her cats. How they flew through the air and did battle with each other. How one in particular would dig the vibrations of a guest, and from there decide either to gouge the guest with its claws or rub continually against their leg as if caught in a time-loop.

I in turn told this employee I was a Monty Python fan, and that I found Madeline Kahn hilarious.

One night she asked for a ride home. Me, ever the Midwestern gentleman, obliged. Ten minutes into the ride she asks to stop at a 7-11. Again, I oblige. She comes out with a plastic bag, the contents of which I cannot see. We continue on to her home. We park in her drive way. I help get her things out of my car.

She asks, “Want to see my cats?”

“Uh, sure,” I say.

What I didn’t know is that the seduction had started 25 minutes ago. Actually, it had probably started weeks earlier with a series of mental notes. I was clueless of this aggregation of biographical data. It was Orwellian in retrospect. And so I walk a few flights up to the Cat Lady’s apartment.

She introduces the cats. They seem to like me. Then again, they seem like all other cats I’ve met: disinterested and snooty. It’s worth noting at this point that I have an allergy to cat hair. As I got older it seemed to grow less intense, until I was fairly sure I was no longer allergic. Big mistake.

Cat Lady removes a bottle of wine from the plastic bag, opens it and pours me a glass.

“Wine?”

“Yeah, why not,” I say, automatically checking the glass for cat hair. All clear. Sip, sip.

“Have a seat,” she says while messing around in the kitchen. A few moments later she comes into the living room, which doubles as her bedroom. It was a neat little joint full of Hollywood memorabilia. And cats.

She sits down beside me. “Oh, look at [redacted cat’s name], he likes your energy.”

I look at the cat. “He does?” I keep my hands a healthy distance away and pray he doesn’t turn against me.

“Oh yeah,” she says. “He’s never like that. He usually claws at guests.” She laughs. I manage a nervous chuckle.

Cat Lady sits back. “So.”

“So.”

“Want to watch some Monty Python sketches?” she asks.

Still ignorant of the seduction, I say, “Why not?”

Now some might accuse me of knowing what the game was by this point, but I plead complete ignorance.

We giggle a bit at the Monty Python sketches. She pours me more wine. More giggles follow. Meanwhile I—having caught an intense game of men’s league baseball earlier that day—am sore all over and fatigued. I can’t get comfortable. Next: some Madeline Kahn in the form of Young Frankenstein. But by this point there will be no giggles. I’m catching on. Everything that’s happening seems so familiar. She’d prepared some of my favorite TV shows and movies for viewing. She programmed the entire night!

The cat hair is now floating into my nostrils. My eyes are swelling, watering; indeed, making it very hard for me to see anything in the apartment. Even if I wanted to leave—and I did—I’m not sure I could make my way out the door and down the stairs, let alone drive home without causing a wreck.

I endure the Cat Lady’s seduction for another half hour, but the cat allergy situation was becoming serious. I had to escape.

Managing to extricate myself from the situation, I sneezed the entire drive home.