Cat Lady



"I'm a loner, Dotty. A rebel.

There's things about me you wouldn't understand.

Things you couldn't understand.

Things you shouldn't understand."

-Pee Wee Herman (Pee Wee's Big Adventure)


Here's another Spring Break story. This one is like a Twilight Zone episode.

Spring break I drove to Florida (again) with two of my fraternity brothers, Reg and Antonio. Reg is your typical stocky Italian/Irish mutt, and Antonio is Azorian and loaded. He was 28 at the time and still in college. He had been working on his dissertation in Marine Biology for the last two years, but still hadn't come up with a topic. He speaks with an accent and looks like a heavier Armande Assante. This boy punched a hole in the corners of all his credit cards and wears them on a chain around his neck. Whenever he needs to pay for something, he pulls them out of his shirt, fans them out and says, "Pick a card, any card."

I knew this was going to be my last college spring break road trip and was determined to make it the best one yet. I didn't know it at the time, but my input wasn't needed. Fate was already planning my vacation.

Before we left, another brother of ours, Tim, canceled out at the last minute. He decided to drive down with his ex girlfriend, Tina, instead. We, on the other hand, were driving the girl he was currently seeing, Kristen. She lived in Florida, so she split the cost and got a fun (and cheap) ride home. Needless to say, she wasn't in the greatest of moods having Tim driving around with his ex. But what could she do?

Tim told us that his mother had consulted a Psychic for us, and we should be careful in South Carolina and Georgia. We said, yeah, whatever, and left.

On the way down, we bumped into Tim and Tina in a gas station in Virginia and he never once came near my car. Even though Kristen was sitting in it. She fumed the rest of the way. (I have another story about Kristen, but I'll write that one another time.)

We left them in our dust and continued to the Sunshine State. As we passed South Of The Border, and were officially in South Carolina, I noticed that I could no longer see the temperature needle on my dashboard. I thought it was a little odd, but maybe the cold air was cooling the engine better than usual. Then I noticed the smoke coming out from the hood.

I checked the gauge again and realized that the needle was buried on the other side of the dial, or, in technical terms, my car was overheating.

(Repairing the hose)

I pulled to the side, and it turned out that we had blown a radiator hose. No big deal, we jury-rigged it with some cardboard and duct tape. Duct tape will fix anything.

And off we were again.

As soon as we hit the Georgia border, I slowed down. I figured the Psychic was right about South Carolina, I'm very superstitious, so why take a chance. The only problem I could see was getting pulled over by a state trooper.

We stopped for gas and food, but otherwise kept driving at a casual pace.

Once we hit the Florida state line, we all started screaming. We had beaten the psychic's prediction and come through unscathed.

(Self-shot with Kristen in the back)

At another gas station, we picked up some more food, and Reg couldn't find his wallet. Someone covered the cost, and we didn't think anything of it.

When we stopped in Tampa to drop Kristen off, we tore the car apart looking for Reg's wallet. We found nothing. I asked where he remembers having it last, and he replied, "In that truck stop in Georgia."

Looks like he dropped it. In Georgia. The Psychic wins again.

Now we have a new problem. Reg's wallet had his cash card, credit card, AND his I.D. Obviously, we planned to do a little drinking while we were down here, but now Reg had little chance of getting into most bars during Spring Break.

Oh, well, not much we could do about it now.

(The Spatmobile, heavily overloaded)

No one wanted to be stuck in my car for the whole week, so Antonio rented a Mustang convertible. They also had a special going, and threw in a cel phone with the rental. Now we were set. We spent the night in Tampa and the next morning headed down to Miami via the Everglades.

(The 'Stang)

I won't go through every detail of the trip; I really want to get to the heart of the story, so, fast forward a few days; we made a fake I.D. for Reg that actually worked damned well for the week. He was 26 at the time and was stuck having to use one of my old I.D.'s with his picture stuck on it. So whenever we went anywhere, we had to walk in a few minutes apart, lest someone notice the name was the same (I have a distinctive name).

(A felony in progress)

We go to a club in Coconut Grove called Coco's or was it Baja? Now I really can't remember, but anyway, we hang out drinking all night and then head across the street to a little outdoor cafe called Johnny Rockets. Antonio was in a suit and had his hair slicked back into a pony tail. He looked very European. I was in my MC and jeans, and Reg was in a red windbreaker.

We had some coffee, and since it was my turn to drive I was completely sober. Antonio and Reg both had a buzz on, but weren't quite drunk.

At the table next to us sat a woman in dark sunglasses. Her table was practically covered in food, and she was holding a kitten wrapped in a pillow case. We all watched in amazement as she spoon fed the kitten baby food.

She noticed us watching and invited herself to our table.

Now, I'm a native New Yorker and more than a little paranoid of strangers. No matter where in the world I am, I'm always wary of people being overly friendly for no reason.

When she sat down, I moved back in my chair so I was exactly opposite her and had a good view of the entire scene. My first thought was that she was going to try to switch checks with us. Our bill was probably only three or four dollars, while hers was more like twenty or thirty. Reg basically did the same thing. I guess he's as paranoid as I.

She introduced herself as Marina, and the Siamese cat as Jean-Pierre. She told us how the cat was her son, and the father was still in Paris, but would be arriving soon. Okay, I admit it. Wackos seem to gravitate towards me. I can't help it.

(The Cat Lady herself)

She put her stuff down on the table. It consisted of her purse, a gold lighter, and a small tape recorder. After a few minutes of Antonio talking to her I started to notice that she wasn't trying to scam us. Or if she was, she was really bad at it. Like a bolt of lightning it hit me. She's insane. Simple fact. She actually thinks that this cat is her baby.

She gave the cat to Antonio to hold, and it seemed to me that she was oblivious to everything around her that wasn't directly involved with her kitten.

(Antonio and "Jean-Pierre")

I decided it was time to have fun and test the waters.

As casually as I could, I stretched my arm across the table and placed my hand on her tape recorder. I slowly drew it closer to me, and she took absolutely no notice.

I placed it on my lap, and checked it out. It wasn't recording, but had a tape in it. Why not? I hit record, cupped the recorder in my hand and placed it next to my mouth. I started whispering, "I hate cats. I'm going to kill your cat. Your cat is going to die." Then I just kind of moaned into it for a while and turned it off.

As carefully as I removed it, I placed it back in front of her. Again, she paid no mind to us. She was still watching Antonio and the cat.

Reg and I were laughing to ourselves over the tape recorder trick, and now he decided to try one of his own. He slowly leaned across the table and took her lighter. After he drew it back and examined it, he began lighting it over and over again right in full view of the table. She never once noticed so Reg put it back.

Antonio of course saw all this going on and was quite amused.

He looked over at me and looked at the roof of Johnny Rockets. I instantly knew what he was about to do. I threw the car keys to Reg and told him to pull the car around, NOW!

He ran off, and Antonio began bouncing the cat in his arms checking its weight. Every so often he would look up again, and judge the distance to the roof. Bounce the cat, check the roof, bounce the cat, check the roof.

Reg pulled around with the car, and I paid our check. Antonio looked at me and mouthed the words, "Three....Two....One."

I guess the cat had better sense, because before Antonio could throw him, he ran off. We spent a few minutes tracking the cat down for Marina while she paid her own bill. She then asked Antonio if he would drive her home. Reg and I were behind her shaking our heads, waving our arms, and mouthing the word "No!"

So they leave together, and we're stuck in the cafe waiting.

One of the waiters came by and asked where the wacko went. I said our friend drove her home.

"Oh, that's not good." he said.

We asked why not, and he told us that she had been arrested outside the cafe a few times for Drunken Disorderly and Solicitation.

I looked at Reg and said, "Antonio's going to get laid, and he's gonna pay for it!"

We laughed for a few minutes and then thanked the waiter for the warning.

About twenty minutes later they came back. Marina had changed her clothes and left the cat home.

Reg and I were looking at Antonio to see if we could see any signs that he had just had sex with the girl, but found none.

Antonio got out of the car and crawled into the back seat with Marina, while I took the wheel, and Reg rode shotgun. We drove around for a while as she talked away to Antonio. We decided to head to the beach.

It was about 11:00 by now, so the beach was deserted. We parked the car, and Reg and I got out and stood by the sides watching Antonio and Marina. She asked what Antonio did, and he told her Marine Biology student. She asked what Reg did, and Antonio told her, "It's not important, you don't need to know that."

Reg and I looked at each other again wondering what Antonio was talking about.

She asked what I did, and Antonio told her that she didn't need to know that either.

She asked what he was talking about, and Antonio told her, "See, my father is very high up in the Government in the Azores, and he is a friend of the American Government's. But some other Governments might seek to do him and myself harm, so these," he pointed to us, "are my Secret Service bodyguards."

Say what?

When I looked at Reg, I noticed that he was as confused as I was, but neither of us were going to say anything. Also, we were both standing on either side of them, and both had our hands clasped behind our backs. We looked like we were body-guarding. In actuality, we were just trying to stay away from her and keep an eye on her in case she did something stupid.

She turned towards me and noticed that with me standing outside the car, my crotch was at about her eye level.

She said, "This is a great view."

"Don't bother" Antonio said, "He's gay."

I was never so happy to have someone think I was gay in my entire life. It was like sudden freedom from worrying about her coming near me.

She asked Antonio why he would want a gay bodyguard, and he told her that if there are women around, some bodyguards get distracted, but at least Spat can keep his eyes open.

And then it happened. We fell into our characters.

"Like that time in that strip club in Texas, right?" I said.

Reg, Antonio and I laughed, and told her the story of the female assassin that was able to lure Reg away and then tried to kill Antonio, but I was able to stop her.

For a minute she wasn't sure if she believed us or not, so I decided to have some fun. I saw a car coming down the road with no lights on, so I yelled, "CAR!!" and Reg and I threw ourselves over Antonio in the back seat. She dove under the seat so fast it wasn't even funny. From that moment on, she believed every word.

We told stories of places we'd never been, things we'd never done, and people we'd never met. About how bad I am at flying a helicopter, and was lucky that this other agent named Bob was able to pull me out of the wreck before I bled to death.

She asked why Reg left while we were at Johnny Rockets, and we explained that he had to search the car for bombs.

"Remember that time he missed one?" Antonio asked.

Reg actually looked embarrassed at the mention of this fictitious story.

"Yeah" I said, "I was pulling shrapnel out of my back for a week."

She asked why we drive such a flashy car if we're trying to be undercover, and Reg jumped in by mentioning the "Hide in plain sight" theory.

She was now intrigued.

We were interesting, dangerous, mysterious, and worldly. Or so she thought.

After an hour of us telling her stories of our secret service exploits, she began ducking whenever a car went by, just in case.

I looked at my watch and noticed it was 3 a.m. Antonio saw me check and said, "It's time to check in." He handed me the cel phone, so I walked away a few feet and pretended to make a call. I walked back to the car and told everyone that the meeting was still on for noon and that Bob says hi to everyone. We talked about Bob the helicopter pilot for a little while more and made up adventures that are better than anything in the movies today.

Antonio and Marina started getting a little touchy-feely by the time the sun was coming up, so Reg and I walked to the highway and sat on a bench. We laughed and asked each other what this girl's problem was.

A few minutes later I looked back at the car and couldn't see Marina. I could see Antonio's head, but not hers. So we snuck up to the car, and as we got closer, we could see her head bobbing up and down. Antonio saw us, and I was about to go back to the bench and leave them alone, when Antonio started motioning for one of us to take a picture. Unfortunately, the camera was in the front seat.

She stopped what she was doing, and looked up. Reg and I were already hidden behind two trees. She looked back at the bench and when she didn't see us, asked Antonio where we went. Antonio snapped his fingers, and Reg and I stepped out from where we were hiding.

She was shocked. Antonio just shrugged and said, "Secret service."

She offered to take the three of us on, and I was so happy she thought I was gay. For a minute anyway. She offered to convert me. I was about to run onto the highway, when she turned her affections to Reg. He was of like mind and basically just kept walking away from her also.

By 7 a.m. we were a little tired of running away from this girl and decided it was time to take her home. We got in the car, and she started going on about the foursome again. Then she offered to come with us wherever we were going. We told her that we didn't know where we might end up. Today we're in Florida, tomorrow might be Alaska. We never know. She still wanted to come. We tried everything to talk her out of it and finally just had to stop discussing it.

I kept driving and pretty much ignored the conversation, as did Reg. When I did check the mirror again, she was giving to put it? Oral affections? Sounds good.

Remember, it's 7:30 in the morning on a Wednesday. We're in a convertible with the top down, and we're driving in rush hour traffic.

This time, Reg was in the front seat with the camera.

The camera that we were using was an underwater camera. So it needs to be six feet from the target to focus properly. In a small car like this, six feet is just not possible. So Reg had to hold the camera near the windshield, and point it at Antonio that way. Antonio sat there smiling, and with his hand, directed the angle that Reg was holding the camera. A little higher, more to the left, etc.

When it was right, Antonio gave Reg the thumbs up, and Reg snapped the picture.

We dropped her off, went home, and went to sleep. It was 9 a.m.

That was one long night.

We actually joked around about calling her up a few days later and telling her we were in Arizona, or Brazil, or someplace, but never got around to it. Or maybe call her and tell her that Antonio had been killed by a spy in some exotic locale.

When we developed the pictures, the only one that came out was one of Antonio's smiling face. You couldn't tell what was going on, but we thought it was funny just because we knew the story.

I know that what we did wasn't very nice, and it's definitely not something I would do again (except for the fact that that night we went to a bar and told everyone that Reg's father was on trial in New York, and Antonio and I are his body guards trying to keep him safe and out of the way until the whole thing blows over), but no one got hurt. It was good clean fun. Believe me, we could have done a lot of things to that girl had we been meaner people; she should be happy that we're nice guys. We did joke around briefly about taking her clothes and leaving her naked on the beach, but just couldn't do it. I bet she still tells the story to her friends about the spy and his bodyguards that she almost ran away with.


-Spat 4/11/97


If you have any questions, E-Mail me.