Friday, December 9, 2011

Kurt Cobain's Ghost Is Seeing A Psychiatrist!

Of all my deceased celebrity patients, perhaps the most unpretentious is Kurt Cobain, former lead warbler of the 90s rap group rock combo Nirvana. In fact, the first time he entered my office, I thought he was there to repair the window unit air conditioner.
 “Thank god you’re here. It’s been driving me out of my mind,” I said.
“The A/C. It rattles. And it’s a diabolical rattle. Sometimes one sharp strike will stop it.” I demonstrated with my cane. “Other times, several–even many wicked blows are required before the infernal noise comes to an end.” Again, I demonstrated, working up a sweat. “I swear this air conditioner is one of B.F. Skinner’s creations. It’s an intermittent reinforcement machine.” To
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emphasize my point, I gave the unit a swift kick, ending the rattle. “See?”
Kurt Cobain knelt down before the now smoothly humming unit. “Actually, it’s a Westinghouse, not a Skinner,” he said, peering at me through a curtain of uncombed blond hair. I had to restrain myself from caning his plaid flannel clad shoulders on the spot.
“B.F. Skinner is a legendary behavioral psychologist. While I don’t fully embrace his theories, any repairman who enters my office should at least be aware of his existence.  Time and time again, I’ve told the management of this building that anyone in their employ who comes here–from the cleaning gal to the mail man– must be a well-rounded, educated individual who understands my analogies.”
“I’m a writer. That qualify?” Kurt Cobain asked. When he stood up, I noticed that his dungarees, while sporting holes in each knee, were neatly pressed.
“Pop songs.”  
“Punk rock.”
“I’m not familiar with that.”
“It’s–you know–songs about Lithium and cancer. At least that’s what I do.”
“I see. Top of the Pops stuff.”
“Yeah, we did have some hits. In the 90s. Until I, you know–”
“Please. Please. Don’t tell me yet. It’ll ruin the story arc of the analysis. Sit down. Better yet, lie down.”                   
Kurt Cobain began to stretch out on the floor.
“No. No. The couch. That’s right. Take a few deep breaths while I fetch my notebook. By the way, sorry about mistaking you for the A/C man. Most of my clients have faces I recognize. Or show up in a tux or sequined bikini. You know, show biz pizazz.”
And thus began Kurt Cobain’s thus far fruitful therapy. Each week he arrives wearing in the same shirt and jeans, fidgeting as he struggles out loud to compose the next verse of his sordid life tale.
That’s right. In order to make him comfortable enough to confront his fears head on, I am allowing Kurt Cobain to “unload” in the form confessional pop songs.
In nine months of therapy, he has composed five tunes I consider keepers. Only seven more and he’ll have an album’s worth of solid material, two or three of which would have potential as singles were Nirvana still active, according to a deceased A&R man–another client–to whom I leaked the demo.
Arguably, I should receive a co-writing credit on several numbers for having drawn the lyrics out of him during therapy sessions. Not only that, the rhythm on one rocker mimics the rattle of my A/C. But the issue is moot for obvious reasons.
I have also been successful in prodding the introverted punk star to take up an athletic activity, which he has done with encouraging gusto, bordering on obsession. Using the same shotgun he clutched to his breast during one bizarre session, Kurt Cobain has become an accomplished skeet shooter, which happens to be my own relaxing hobby.
In fact, on two occasions we mutually blew off our frustrations on several cartons of clay pigeons. Kurt’s aim–and mood–improved when he taped photocopies of his former wife’s visage to the flying targets, mimicking a technique of mine that employs my second from last spouse.
Not only that, he’s begun to make new friends here in the Afterlife. In fact, just the other day, he entered a shooting competition with author Ernest Hemmingway and silent film star Mabel Norman, finishing a strong third.
Kurt Cobain’s skeet-shooting obsession allows him to target the true source of his frustration while avoiding grievous self-inflicted wounds. His prognosis as of this report: an uplifting ***1/2 stars out of 4.
Abraham Tribesky
(cross-posted from his blog)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How I Make Love To My Cats

 My cats enjoy making love in a variety of ways. But each has a special “move” or two they prefer over others. Patient lovers, they have shown me the correct techniques. As they have taught me the proper way to pop a can, open the back door and drag a string across the carpet in a manner that resembles an injured gazelle on the veldt.

Here, for your amusement, is how I have been trained to pleasure my five cats.


A pint-size mix of Japanese bobtail and whatever was prowling the yard the day of her conception, Cookie likes it first thing in the morning on the kitchen table—brimming orange juice glass, milk-filled cereal bowl and dusty paws be damned. Easily frustrated, Cookie will chew the sports section and claw napkins until she gets what she wants, which is approximately five minutes of rubbing each cheek with my knuckles.

I’m talking hard, saliva-drawing fist bumps.

Cookie’s purrs begin immediately and grow ever louder, adding exotic, far-eastern trills and snorts, until ceasing suddenly when she jumps off the table and races through two rooms to the living room balcony.

Once arrived, Cookie paws at the French doors until I open them, toss circus peanuts on onto the cedar balcony and exit, leaving the doors cracked hot or cold, rain or shine, lest I upset her daily attempt to hunt fat gray squirrels as big as she is. Typically, Cookie falls asleep after an engaging in an hour or so of charade. She doesn’t require further romantic attention—but for a few passing rubs—prior to her official bed time that evening.
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Hannah is like a film noir mystery woman who darts in and out of my life, sticking around only long enough for a quick burst of rough affection. A girl of the streets, Hannah jumped into my car one rainy night when I opened the door in the dimly lit parking lot outside a convenience store. Like any decent person would, I drove her home, toweled her off and took her immediately to bed. We remained in the spoon position until dawn, whereupon, free spirit that she is, Hannah, snuck out the window and climbed to the top of our steeply-raked roof, remaining there for 24 hours.

Two years later, our relationship remains passionate and unpredictable. Heeding the siren call of streets, Hannah will vanish for worrisome chunks of time only to reappear with studied nonchalance as I return in the car after a fruitless search of the neighborhood. Leaping onto the hood, Hannah will demand that I power down the driver’s side window. She’ll then squeeze beneath the steering wheel, knead my thigh thoroughly and nestle in my lap, occasionally lifting her sleek black snout to accept soft caresses or bite my nose in tender, if painful fashion. The lengthy session continues until my butt turns numb, I shift my position, Hannah squalls, scratches and vanishes again, not to return until the wee hours of the night, when she sneaks beneath the covers with such stealth that I often don’t notice until morning. Unless I roll on top of her and all hell breaks loose.


At fourteen years of age, Happy is the matriarch of our clan. Our day of lovemaking begins after breakfast on my office floor. After completing her morning ablutions beneath our front porch, Happy enters my 3rd floor quarters with sweet but persistent meows. This is my cue to lie prone on the carpet, allowing Happy to meander from one side of my body to the other, earning scratches on her left and then right cheek. Two or three rounds of this later, Happy mounts my chest—my signal to start scratching both cheeks simultaneously. She will then fall asleep or bolt, depending on whether another cat has entered the room.

During the day, Happy stations herself in a faux-sheepskin ring on a nearby bureau, descending when the mood strikes her to demand a place on my lap as I type. This requires me to turn sideways, lift Happy off the floor by the nape of the neck, plop her down and attempt to continue operating the keyboard and mouse with one hand while stroking her neck with the other.

Our next and final go-round takes place in bed when Happy once again climbs atop my chest, the signal to massage her forehead as I read, an awkward assignment, particularly when I’m reading a hardcover book of over 500 pages.


Orange-Y is the gentleman caller who upset the equilibrium of our previously harmonious four-female cat household. He arrived on our front porch one sweltering afternoon, not that he was a physically intimidating presence: Orange-Y’s ribs showed through his matted fur and he limped, thanks to three ugly, open sores under his grease-streaked chest. His ears were freshly torn, he suffered from ringworm and he was—amazingly, since he was about age five—unfixed.

He evoked boundless empathy, resulting in my first attempt to seduce a male cat since the death of our beloved Jeb a decade prior. Both Orange-Y and I struggled with this. Yet after a week of cajoling and cat treats he at last succumbed to the warm temptations of my lap.

I immediately betrayed Orange-Y’s confidence, cramming him into a carrier, hustling him to the vet, where he endured four separate surgeries and multiple injections. The ordeal culminated in a return to bed, which he refused to leave for three weeks but for brief bathroom breaks. During this time, Orange-Y was insatiable, demanding near constant rubbing and kneading to the point where my romantic relationship with the girls began to suffer.

Only now, some six months after Orange-Y’s portentous arrival, is our household returning to some semblance of normalcy. Orange-Y allows me to integrate our petting sessions with those of the ladies. My chest has a turnover in clientele that rivals a hot-sheet motel. However, even half-asleep, it’s not hard to know when I’ve been mounted by Orange-Y: he’s now a strapping 20 pounds.


Matta likes it all day long, in brief but passionate sessions. Full-furred and high strung, Matta spends the majority of her waking hours between the sheets or atop an ironing board festooned with blankets. From here, Matta has a sweeping, 180-degree view, allowing her to spy troublemakers early, like the next-door neighbors’ cat, joggers with leashed dogs, singing children and the garbage man and his cacophonous truck.

A scratch on the cheek every fifteen minutes or so keeps Matta from bolting—greater frequency earns me a love bite. Truth be told, Matta is much more comfortable taking the initiative; if I bend down, she’ll lick my face until her tongue goes dry.

An inveterate night prowler, Matta roused me from sleep with gentle nose kisses for five years until I got religion and installed a cat door. Now Matta can explore the hostile outside world when it is relatively quiet and calm, returning to the safe confines of the sheets and the crook of my legs.

But I don’t want to leave the impression that Matta is stand-offish prig. She enjoys chest time too, although the machinations she goes through in order to arrange herself in the exact right position would require someone with an advanced engineering degree to describe.

No wonder I’m so exhausted.