“My adoration and obsession with Jack Bird Pinsky is unfounded, unprecedented, and confusing, because I am damaged goods. I had a terrorist for a cat growing up. He would bite me on the face if I got too close; my mother would always laugh and say, “That’s a love bite! He loves you!” But I knew better.
Cats did not compute. When I walked into any home and found a cat, I would freeze. Is it going to shoot pee at me? I never knew how to handle them.
The day after touching ground in New York, I walked into the Petco at Union Square with my ex-boyfriend and my swelling left hand hovering next to my ear. I had tripped the day before, breaking my fall with my knuckles, and I naively hoped that the elevation would reduce the swelling. I quickly texted my dad, a doctor: If there’s a ring on my finger, and my finger is swelling, should I take it off? I handed the phone to my ex-boyfriend as I walked towards Kathy, whose eyes were open too wide before she eagerly asked questions I didn’t have answers for: “What do you think about de-clawing?” “What kind of cat food would you feed your cat?” “Are your windows safe? We check because, well, I lost a cat that way… It was devastating.” Slowly but surely, my hand ballooned, the thin gold ring in the middle of my finger serving as the separation between two different sausage-links. After an hour and a half of questions, I ran up to my ex-boyfriend, who was looking at an exotic fish tank. He showed me my phone screen: DAD: If there’s any question, yes. Take it off.
But we had to look at the cats.
Walking back over to the metal cases, row after row of cats sat blankly looking out at us. I noticed there was a row close to the ground. I bent down and was met with the crooning eyes of a tuxedo cat.
“Bootzy: He’s a true romantic. Give him the time, and he’ll make you fall in love”, read the laminated paper on his cage. His shelter name was much too cutesy for such a masculine cat.
“This one, I want to see this one, Kathy.” I slathered Purell on my undamaged hand as the cage door flung open. He stayed in the same position, lounging like a celebrity on vacation in the Keys. I cautiously put my hand out, and he didn’t move. His energy seemed even to welcome my curiosity. I paused, and proceeded to slowly slide my hand along his back. He continued to look at me with the eyes of a teen pop star who just made it big, trying to make me fall in love with him so that I will spend money on him. I pet him again, and again, and again, until his hind leg came up– and rather than sinking his teeth into my hand– he slowly moved my hand away from his body. For someone who struggles with boundaries, it was amazing to find a cat who had strong ones.
Pulling my hand away from the cage, I stood up and looked at Kathy: “He’s the one.” I fell in love at first hind leg push.”
Paulina Pinsky is currently a Nonfiction Creative MFA Candidate at Columbia University. But she also has fun! Not just a big ol’ nerd grad student! She is part of the improvised spooky mystery “Shit Scaredless” at the Pit Loft. Next show is November 3 at 11 PM. Currently residing on the Upper West Side, her social media handle is @mizpiggy on Instagram and Twitter.