Cat Hospital

A sign on the wood cubby:





Fire! Fire! part 2

I stumbled into my living room, bewildered. The apartment smelled of fish.

I ran to the oven and turned it off.

I picked up the phone and called 911 to issue a retraction.

"I'll cancel the police," the operator said -- the police were coming too?? -- "but the firemen have to come anyway, just to check."

Oh dear. Oh dear.

I started preparing for visitors, cleaning up 2 piles of cat vomit. I poured a glass of Fresca. I checked on the fish.

"Helloo . . . " the door opened.

Six large men filed into my living room. They were in full fireman regalia: big black suits, conelike hats, crowbars, giant silver fire extinguishers. They all were over six feet tall. Head Fireman had ice blue eyes.

"So, you got in okay."

"Yeah! Yeah. My neighbor's key worked. Scary, right? Ha, ha!"

Yikes -- I am so braless.

"Here, kitty." Head Fireman strode toward the kitchen and Saro ran like hell.

He opened the oven door. "Looks good."

"Yeah, it's an old oven, but it's nice."

"No, the fish."

"Oh! Yeah."

"So you're all okay here."

"Yup, we're all . . . here."

"Enjoy your dinner!" Exeunt firemen.

Head Fireman opened the door again and pointed toward a little plastic bag of trash outside the door. "You're going to take care of this?"


Fire! Fire!

I'm going to have to make this quick.

Last night I was so tired. Beyond exhausted. Too much debauching in the early part of the week. Went straight home.

I picked up a few groceries on the way. I had an idea to try to cook fish. I am trying to make friends with fish. Apparently, eating them is good for you. Circumventing the gory Chinatown markets, I went to Fine Fare and picked up a suitably clean-looking Saran-wrapped salmon filet and some low-fat Creamsicles.

I looked through all my cookbooks and ran across the Barefoot Contessa's version of salmon and lentils. Cool.

The lentils were no problem, but I was so tired I kept dropping them all around the kitchen. I poured water into a glass and splashed all over the table. Tired. Tired.

The salmon was a bit of a problem when the Contessa instructed me to cut the skin off of the bottom of the fish. This was very upsetting. I got so freaked out I stopped cutting the skin about three-quarters through, and threw the rest of the fish away. I wasn't going to eat that much anyway.

Nonetheless, the salmon that remained seared perfectly. The oven was nice and hot. I transferred the fish from the stove to the oven to cook it for five to seven minutes.

I decided to throw out the garbage that contained raw fish. You don't want to have that stuff hanging around the house. I grabbed the bag, put on my flip-flops and went out to the foyer, when . . . slam!

As soon as the door slammed my blood ran cold. I remembered the door was on auto-lock. I tried the knob. Locked.

"Fuck. fuck. Fuuuuuuuuuck!"

Fuck! What am I going to do.

Fuck! Think.

I was locked out of my apartment holding a bag of raw fish.

And the salmon is in the oven on broil.

I looked all around at the closed doors. I picked a door of the neighbor I had seen eariler, coming up in the elevator, and knocked. No response.

"Shit!" I jumped up and down.

I knocked on the next door. Nice Israeli people live there.

Jackpot: Burly father and son, nice mom, all watching TV.

"I'm locked out," I said. "And the fish is burning. May I use your phone?"

Shit, shit. This is so stupid.

Mom handed me the phone.

Ok, who do I call? Locksmith? Dan, who has spare keys? It would take awhile for anyone to arrive. I started having visions of fish in flames, and innocent cats choking on smoke.

"You may want to call the Fire Department," Son said.

Oh lord.

I called 911 and got to the fire department.

"What's the problem."

"I'm locked out, and the oven is on."

"Is there a fire?"

"Not yet, but the fish is . . . . "

Oh gosh . . . duh . . .

". . . broiling, and will burn any minute."

"We'll send someone over." She took my address. We hung up.

I apologized profusely to the Mom and thanked her.

Down the hallway Dad and Son were hunched over my doorknob, wiggling their Blockbuster card in the crack of the door. Nothing was happening.

"Try your key," Dad said to Son.

Son put his key in the lock and turned.

The door opened.



Today I had a slice of lemon pound cake, which reminds me of Mrs. Schoenig.

Mrs. Schoenig was a friend of my grandparents who lived in Massapequa. When my grandparents were living with my dad and me, I often would come home after school and find Grandma, Grandpa, and Mrs. Schoenig sitting at the kitchen table in our yellow kitchen.

Mrs. Schoenig had a thick accent. She had short, curly blonde hair and a wide Cheshire smile.

"Ellllleeka," she would say. "How vare you, sveetheart."

My standard answer, then and now: "fine."

That was the extent of our conversation. I would immediately start looking for her lemon pound cake.

She made the cake in bundt formation -- a high arched O with scalloped sides. The outside of the cake was a perfect honey brown adorned with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. The cake was slightly crispy when you cut into it, but as the knife went deeper it would sink in lushly. My grandmother would hand me a nice thick wedge on a paper plate. The inside of the cake was pale yellow and lightly spongey.

Coming closer, I could smell a hint of lemon. I would get a little powdered sugar on my nose. I would take a big, big bite.


Fishhead zeitgeist! part 2

As it turns out, I wasn't the only one plagued by fish heads: Pam was stared down by one during a dinner this very same week.

The next day I walked to work cautiously. The fish heads were gone. All was well till I hit Little Italy, where a guy walked right past me in a white coat, carrying a huge dead pig on his back.


Fishhead zeitgeist! part 1 (warning: contains unsavory photos)

As I was walking to work, I saw something that grossed me out so much, I decided to take a picture and share it with you.








I really dislike the markets anyway -- the smell, the sidewalk wet with fishwater and crushed ice -- but usually the carcasses are contained. These dead squid at least have the decency to align themselves.

This started too seem too ghoulish so I decided to take snaps through the rest of my walk. Ah, a bounty of summer fruit and vegetables.

Soon, I came across the most annoying corner of New York City: Fish market, newsstand, electronics table, tiny grandmothers pushing large carts, and people flowing in and out of the subway entrance. However, this corner is also a wonderful source for Chinese porn, as well as your morning lo mein.

I waited at a corner flanked by a baby and a dog. I made routine note of a very dangerous spot of sidewalk and resisted numerous enticements to drink bubble tea. And finally, crossing the line into Little Italy, I noticed a stray loaf of Italian bread poking out of the trash and reaching toward the sun.