Every morning on my way to work I walk past my neighbor’s apartment. As I move past their window I lock eyes with their scrawny black cat perched pompously on the top of their couch – his nose pressed against the black screen, his head turning to track my every move. And everyday I imagine the tremendous joy it would bring to swiftly punch him right in the face.
No cat dare stares at me with such annoying confidence and gets away with it. Especially that early in the morning.
There are certain friends we have whose homes also contain cats. I have them memorized but not on purpose. The human mind tends to remember events that result in severe anxiety or expose you to psychological trauma. Events that involve the threat to your own life. I see flashbacks. I have nightmares…
One evening we went over to a friend’s. Her name is Tasha. Through the course of the night I would see Tasha’s fat, long-haired gray cat scamper through the living room -nesting on arm rests and under chairs. It’s hair and dander floated through the air. It took about an hour after continuously inhaling these cat particles into my lungs for the transformation to begin. Like a deadly Ebola Zaire virus sickness began blanketing every part of my body in what would evolve into a blinding attack to my system.
First a sneeze. No big deal if it hadn’t led to hundreds more. “Wow, what’s wrong with you?” people asked. “I have no idea…”.
You see, through the years I have actually developed a massive cat allergy that once never existed. I suppose it’s God’s personal guarantee that I will forever hate cats with a fiery passion.
After the sneeze came non-stop nose-blowing. I had a red chafing nose, dripping and tingly. My sinuses throbbed, hyper sensitive and irritated. Flowing rivers of mucus were mass-produced for literally hours on end which created a seemingly impossible amount of fluid filling every trashcan and pocket to the brim with disgusting Kleenex.
My eyes were next. Imagine the very corner of your eye, the tear duct near the nose, being tickled ever so slightly with a single hair tipped with the poison of a bee-sting. I wanted to claw my eyes out of my head. I rubbed them because it felt so damn good (it provided a momentary and confusing feeling of euphoria in a sea of despair) but turned them red and veiny, puffed and swollen.
Thus I became immobilized; a social outcast at the party. A leper. I sat alone on the couch with my hands over my eyes, head leaned back in absolute agony. People would walk by to stop and stare – confused and perplexed at my behavior and the noises I continued to produce. “Is he alright?” they would ask my wife. She’s been down this road before. “Oh, he’s just allergic to cats. Silly Willy.” she would reply. “Oh, haha. Poor guy!” And that was the extent of most conversations.
For the sake of time I’ll fast-forward a few hours. I haven’t moved much. The double dose of Benadryl has made staying awake close to impossible. It’s finally time to leave Tasha’s. To leave this hell house.
The next morning I woke up. I lay in a sea of used Kleenex. Some littered the bedside, others rested on top of my chest. My mind in a haze from the events that had taken place. “What just happened, was it all a dream?” I thought to myself. Exhausted from my body’s efforts to eradicate all remaining cat that coursed within me I now lay awake, rattled and confused.
This is the story of my life whenever I find myself in the presence of a furry feline.
What’s sad is I am not alone – 15% of Americans share my pain with this allergy. The decision to have a cat is also the decision to shun those friends who cannot stay in a cat-infested house. It’s selfish. Know that.
There’s plenty to hate. Their disgusting poop-filled litter boxes, like the holy-grail of these deadly allergens. Their musk and dander being rubbed all over couch cushions and table legs. But perhaps most frustrating is their cocky attitudes that subtly whisper (or meow) into your ear: “I’m better than you are.”