As most of you know, Stuart is our cat. There are days when I find myself recounting stories of Stuart while simultaneously ignoring the innner voice that’s chanting, “No one fucking cares. In fact, you’re actually freaking people out, cat girl.”
As you can see, I ignore that inner voice. If I had something better to talk about, I’d be talking about it. As it stands, though, I ain’t got shit. Except Stuart, of course.
Stuart George Wayne Edward Beaulieu, Cat Elite.
But the thing about Stuart is that he is more than a cat. I don’t mean that he is a soul, or that his eyes tell me things about the state of humanity that only God could know– because those sorts of things are truly the statements of lonely cat women, but I mean that he is something else entirely to hubs and me: He is a mediator.
Some people have open lines of communication. Some couples turn off the TV, put away their dinner plates and excessive work loads, and have intimate conversations about the state of affairs within their family. Hubs and I use Stuart as a tool of passive-aggressive puppetry, a highlighter for the deeper dysfunction within our unity.
Overtime (I think), you learn that there are things that you can’t say to your spouse. Marriage can make you forget it, but everyone has feelings and perserving those feelings is 90% of the battle. Telling hubs he is a useless sack of laziness? Not adviseable. Having Stuart mention to him that he is ashamed to call him “father”? Completely acceptable. In fact, downright constructive.
In the days of Milo, hubs and I could have entire conversations abot how much we loathed each other through him. Milo would tell hubs that he was scared of him, that the way he spoke to his mother (that would be me) make him scared that he would end up splitting holidays and having to spend Thursdays and every other weekend at a converted frat house in Allston. In turn, Milo would tell me that as a mother I was dispicable, that my housekeeping tendencies make him feel awkward about inviting friends over, that he was nervous the tabby from upstairs would come over, see the kitchen, and tell everyone in the building that Milo’s parents didn’t own any soap.
And there you had it. We would each apologize to Milo and walk away with a broad marital perspective. Put that in your marriage rules pipe and smoke it.
Milo was different, though. He didn’t lend himself to impromptu corrections about minutia. He truly shone in crisis situations. When anger was lurking at the surface–late at night, dishes undone, nothing on TV, hubs tapping his pen, watching TED– there was Milo, ready to tell dad how disappointed he was in how everything had turned about. Give him the eyes that only a child can, and plead with him to do better, to try harder, and goddammit get up and do the fucking dishes.
Not so with Stuart. He seizes at the climax, the pressure of picking sides between the man who feeds him and the woman who purchases the food is too much. Trivial, frivolous arguments– those are where Stuart finds his sweet spot. Recently, his position has morphed into something else: he is the cruel voice of all things painfully obvious, but never mentioned.
(Sitting on the bed, mom and Stuart watching TV, dad walks in wearing a towel. Stuart looks up and speaks.)
“Gee, dad. Where’d you get that belly? How are we ever going to play in the father/son softball game with you looking like a slugging monkey.”
Then hubs stands there, torn between whether to beat me within an inch of my life, or simply play the game.
“Oh, buddy. Don’t worry. Haven’t you seen mom lately? She’s been working out so much she looks like a big, butch lesbian. And you know how much they love softball.”
Translation: Hubs, you may need to pay attention to the weight that may or may not have added to your midsection. It’s becoming obvious and I’m slightly embarrassed by it and definitely less attracted to you. Caroline, your working out is not only making me resent you slightly, but your barrel arms are making me feel like less of a man, and with this recent weight gain I’m feeling vulnerable.
Now, you tell me if you’ve gotten that much out of thousands of dollars and hours of couples therapy.
You need a Stuart.