“Pleased to Meat You”

Tweak: “What is that?”

Me: “It’s an oxtail.”

I am standing at the kitchen sink slitting open a package of meat.

Tweak: “What’s an oxtail?”

Me: “A tail from an ox? Or maybe a Lady Gaga costume.”

Inside the package are six latitudinal one-inch slices of… something. Bone surrounded by meat, surrounded by entitlement.

Tweak: “Are you going to cook it?”

Me: “Are you going to try comedy?”

I remove one of the raw slices and throw it out the back door. Bowie-dog dashes out from her very important job of holding down the living room rug. She hunts the oxtail all the way to the patio.

Tweak: “There are kids in Ethiopia who just starved in front of their computers.”

Me: “I will be gone for a long time today. This gives the dog something to do.”

Tweak: “You never give me something to do.”

Me: “Why would I give you something to do? So you could sleep on it?”

Tweak: “You have no idea what I do while you’re gone.”

Me: “Tweak, I have left for work at 8:00 in the morning, come home at 8:00 at night, and you’ve been in the exact same position except for somehow having armed yourself with the breath of a thousand tunas.”

I drain the meat juice from the package into the sink.

Tweak: “You can tune a piano but you can’t tuna meat.”

Me: “’Tuna Meet’ sounds like a great name for an online service.”

Tweak: “You really need a date.”

Me: “You want an oxtail?”

Tweak: “That’s an even better name.”

Me: “’Tuna Meat or Oxtail.’ It’s all a matter of taste, isn’t it?”

Tweak: “Or desperation.”

I seal up the remaining oxtails in a Ziploc.

Me: “My meat is dolphin-safe.”

Tweak: “Lady Gaga called. She wants her innuendo back.”

I toss the bag into the freezer.

Tweak: “And your dog just threw up.”


21 August 2014, “Tolerating Tweak”



“In the Out of Doors”

Me: “Tweak, did you know that there are cats who live outside?” 

Tweak: “Live? Out… there?”

Me: “Yes. Outdoors. On the other side of doors.”

Tweak cocks her head toward me from the windowsill where she’s been tracking the mating ritual of two robins.

Tweak: “Someone has to go outside to pour nurdles in their bowl? Why would you do that to yourselves?”

Me: “No, no. These cats don’t have a ‘someone.’ They have never eaten nurdles.”

Tweak: “This is bullshit.”

Tweak turns back to the robins in the bush. The male leaps up one branch higher, the female down.

Me: “I would not lie to you, Tweak. I tell the truth so I don’t have to keep track.”

The male has brought the female a gift in his beak – a leaf. Or a maggot.

Tweak: “So they’re homeless?”

Me: “They’re not homeless, they’re house-less. They live between things.”

Tweak: “Were they born in barns??”

Me: “Sometimes. Certainly they were not nuzzled into the world by the kiss of a midwife onto a bed of Valium-filled Krispy Kremes like you, princess. No, feral kittens are born mewling and twisted, wrenched from the uteri of cat rapes, dropped wet and kicking behind dumpsters and under front porches all across this great land, raised on a steady diet of Taco Bell, locusts, and intimidation.”

Tweak: “What happens when it rains?”

Me: “Then we forget about them.”

The male robin leans over to present his squirming gift. The female lets the maggot fall to the earth.

Tweak: “Are outdoor cats… special? Inbred? Got one eye in between the other three?”

Me: “They are typically very healthy, although they tend to cuss like sailors.”

Tweak: “Your mother was a bilge rat.”

Me: “Your father had the pox.”

Tweak tucks her feet under her and watches for the next bird show.

Tweak: “Yo, ho, home.”

16 August 2014, “Tolerating Tweak”


In the out of doors.
In the out of doors.



“You Can Tuna Can Opener”

Tweak: “What is that smell?”

Me: “Dude. You are rude.”

I am standing at the kitchen counter opening a can of solid white albacore.

Tweak: “Seriously. Are you slaughtering manatees?”

Me: “Perish the thought. My tuna is dolphin-safe.”

Tweak: “What are we talking about?”

I hold the freshly severed lid against the pink meat puck and pour the juice down the sink.

Me: “You can’t have any of this nectar.”

Tweak: “What kind of cretin eats tuna juice?”

Me: “It’s very popular on Craigslist.”

Tweak: “What are we talking about?”

I fork some tightly-packed fish tiles into a white bowl.

Me: “You’re a freak, Tweak. Most cats beg for this stuff, and it’s not a pretty transaction. I’ve seen gentler come-ons from crack whores.”

Tweak: “The other white meat.”

Me: “I killed a cat with tuna once.”

Tweak scooches back on the floor.

Me: “Oh, I didn’t mean to! It was horrible, actually. I decanted tuna juice onto his nurdles once a month for 7 years. He lapped it up like cocaine. At the time I didn’t understand that the salts in the fish brine were slowly forming oysters inside his kidneys and clogging his internal organs like asphalt on an anthill.”

Tweak covers her ears with her hands. And some whimpering.

Me: “Eventually the toxins built up in his brain and he went insane. He banged his head against walls, lost vision in one eye, and required fluid injections between his shoulder blades while screaming for encores of ‘FREE BIRD!’.”

I rinse out the can and throw it in the recycle bin. It hits the side and spins out onto the floor. Tweak sniffs it like a crime scene.

Tweak: “And how long have YOU been eating it?”

Me: “What are we talking about?”

Tweak: “Oh, the huge manatee.”


11 September 2014, “Tolerating Tweak”

“The Booby Prize”

Me: “Tweak, fetch me a razor blade.”

Tweak: “I can’t move fast enough.”

Tweak snaps up from her morning cleansing, amped for instruction.

Me: “And while you’re at it, drill a hole in my skull.”

Tweak: “It’s tricky without thumbs, but maybe the dog will go halfsies with me on an icepick.”

Her feet bounce toward the junk drawer. The possibility of a home amputation puts a spring in her step.

Me: “Oh, and where can I buy leeches?”

Tweak: “Can this get any better! Is it my birthday??”

Her fur vibrates. She almost smiles. In the distance, small children cry for no reason.

Me: “No, it’s my mammogram.”

Tweak deflates. She stares like I’ve just smothered her babies.

Me: “Honestly, I think blood-letting would be less archaic.”

I’m reading an insurance form that says I need an appointment for my biennial Squishing and Waste of Time.

Tweak: “What’s a ‘mammogram’?”

Me: “It’s a test where they squeeze your boob.”

Tweak: “What’s a ‘boob’?”

Me: “It’s a test to see if men will look you in the eyes.”

Tweak drops down onto the floor now that the opportunity for surgical violence is gone.

Tweak: “Does the mammogram hurt?”

Me: “Only my dignity.”

Tweak: “Then why do you care?”

Me: “Because the only reason women have mammograms is to pay for the machine. That gives them mammograms.”

Tweak: “Modern medicine is a snake eating its tail.”

Me: “Modern medicine is a leech.”

Tweak: “Modern medicine is a boob.”

Me: “My eyes are up here.”


13 August 2014, “Tolerating Tweak”


“Songs in the Key of Death”

Tweak: “What are you playing? Some kind of funeral dirge?”

Tweak leaps up next to me on the piano bench.

Me: “Well, yes, actually.”

Tweak: “I don’t even know what a ‘funeral dirge’ is. I read it on the internet.”

[I switch to the “Addams Family” theme song.]

Me: “A ‘dirge’ is a sad song they play at funerals.”

Tweak: “What’s a ‘funeral’?”

Me: “Hmmm… A funeral is when people get together to celebrate, I mean, remember… It means somebody died.”

[I arpeggiate a D-minor chord.]

Tweak: “What happens when people die?”

Me: “They don’t talk as much.”

Tweak: “Then they get flushed down the toilet?”

Me: “That’s mostly for fish. And some Italians.”

[Left hand, octave E-flats, two eighth notes.]

Tweak: “So what happens after people die?”

Me: “That sure is an easy question! You know what ‘sarcasm’ is, Tweak?”

Tweak: “Whenever your lips move?”

Me: “Good. Let’s proceed. What a person believes about dying seems to depend mostly on the holy accident of where they were born. Some people believe in eternal paradise, some people believe in rebirth and trying to ‘get it right’ in the next life, and some people believe that in death we are nothing more than a maggot’s wet dream. An opportunity to feed insects and Darwin.”

Tweak: “Death sounds like a game show.”

Me: “Give us time. It will be.”

[Ragtime intro to Joplin’s “Entertainer.”]

Me: “Some people believe that a person does not die until the last story told is told about them.”

Tweak: “Then I’m going to live forever.”

Me: “Nine times forever.”

Tweak: “That ought to feed the panda.”

[“Come and listen to a story about a man named ‘Jed’…”]

Me: “The circle of life is a milk ring.”

Tweak: “Play it again, ma’am.”

[Circus music.]


8 August 2014, “Tolerating Tweak”

“Dizzy, but Not Dizzy Enough”


I sit up in bed. It is 6:09 a.m. Nine minutes ago my alarm went off. And a bomb in my head.


I am dizzy. It’s dawn. There is a cat on my lap. Or possibly a walrus.

Me: “Tweak?”

Tweak: “Yes, it’s me. It’s always me.”

Me: “Did I get drunk last night?”

Tweak: “Only on macaroni and cheese.”

Me: “What’s wrong with me?”

Tweak: “Your birth certificate keeps getting older.”

I lie back down. This is good. Doing nothing is very good.

I close my eyes. Oh, this is even better. Darkness is salvation.

The walrus digs her nails into my hip. I sit back up.

Me: “Dang. I feel like I should have earned this much misery.”

Tweak: “Well, you DO make an intoxicating cheese sauce.”

Me: “But it’s not hangover-worthy.”

The walrus scratches an ear.

Tweak: “You should sleep some more. It’s a proven remedy.”

Me: “For what?”

Tweak: “For everything.”

I lie down. Carefully. Force myself back up.

Me: “I can’t. I have to feed the panda.”

Tweak: “Screw the panda.”

Me: “You don’t understand – if I don’t feed the panda, we lose the internet.”

The walrus shrugs.

Me: “If I don’t feed the panda, my car runs out of gas.”

The walrus licks a paw.

Me: “If I don’t feed the panda, no more nurdles.”

Tweak: “NOOOO!!”

The walrus explodes.

Tweak: “Get up! Get up, you fat cow! You got shit to do!”

Me: “You really need to work on your interpersonal skills, Tweak.”

Tweak: “Moo.”

I wrestle the sheets and climb out of bed. I am still dizzy for no rational reason, but there’s a panda to feed.

Me: “Eats.”

Tweak: “Shoots.”

Me: “I’m going, I’m going.”



6 August 2014, “Tolerating Tweak.”

“Fresh Starts”

Me: “It’s Monday, Tweak. You know what that means.”

Tweak: “You feed me? Finally?”

Me: “I feed you every day, Tweak. You are short-minded and thankless.”

Tweak: “You have a screw loose.”

Me: “I haven’t a screw of any kind.”

Tweak: “You should tell the world!”

Me: “Same thing we do every Monday.”

Tweak: “Your Alzheimer’s is setting in. Shall I start putting labels on things? ‘Table.’ ‘Chair.’ ‘Self-respect.’”

Me: “Monday is a day for fresh starts. An opportunity to wipe clean the fouled white boards. An occasion to scrape fresh the undergarments. A chance to puncture the calcified guilt-sausage in the meat-core of one’s stinking arteries with the Roto-Rooter of Remorse.”

Tweak: “And you’re single… why?”

Me: “Hey, Tweak, how many FINGER am I holding up?”

Tweak: “Want me to label that?”


4 August 2014, “Tolerating Tweak.”

“Naked Truth About Celebrities and Other Humans”

Me: “I see that some celebrity nudes have leaked.”

Tweak: “Oh, that is always so messy.”

Me: “No, not leaked FLUID. I mean photos of them without clothes on have reached the internet.”

Tweak: “Why do humans wear clothes anyway?”

Tweak licks a combed trail down her perfect fur.

Me: “Have you SEEN us naked?”

Tweak: “Well, I’ve seen YOU.”

Me: “I don’t count. I’m fabulous.”

Tweak suddenly backs up on the carpet and vomits up a hair ball.

Me: “Hey, it’s Rush Limbaugh! But seriously – most undressed humans look like fetal pangolins.”

Tweak: “’Naked mole rat’ would have been funnier. Nobody knows what a ‘pangolin’ is.”

Me: “A pangolin is… Picture Steve Buscemi without clothes.”

Tweak ejects another hair ball.

Tweak: “And so when humans are naked they’re… what? More valuable?”

Me: “Um…”

Tweak: “I mean, if you’re all so hideous, why do you stare at each other?”

Me: “Well, we’re also shallow.”

Tweak: “Don’t forget ‘vain.’”

Me: “And chock full of judgment.”

Tweak: “On the other hand, I’d pay money to see a Kardashian leaking fluid.”

Me: “My turn to hurl.”

Tweak: “No, I mean through an artery.”

We high-five.


1 September 2014, “Tolerating Tweak”