Marie Antoinette, Marie Osmond, Marie Claire magazine, ad infinitum
I should have known Marie was trouble by the way my cat Isabel glared menacingly at her.
(Disclaimer: Marie’s not her real name, but in my 29 years, I’ve rarely met a Marie whom I could stomach. If I’m forgetting someone, or you’re reading this post and your name happens to be Marie, even though your parents chose poorly, it’s not your fault and I’m sure you’re lovely.)
I failed to heed Isabel’s numerous warnings – her steely-eyed grimace, the way she sacrificed her roly-poly body as a barrier between us, how she repeatedly sought to suffocate Marie while she lay asleep in bed next to me. Isabel had half-heartedly sounded the alarm about Vicky, too, prompting me to affectionately refer to her as “The Bad Lady.” Yet over the years, my cat and my girlfriend made their peace (the nickname stuck, however). I chalked up Isabel’s disdain for the women in my life to jealousy, and figured she’d eventually come around to the idea of my dating someone new. Until then, I’d resigned myself to spending many a restless night trying desperately to keep unrelenting Isabel off of Marie’s throat and away from her airways.
As it turned out, Isabel was right about Marie from the start. She sniffed insanity all over her, emanating from every pore, as if she’d bathed in Calvin Klein’s Obsession or received a blood transfusion from Anne Heche and now had unbridled craziness and an alter ego named Celestia coursing through her veins. Like Rhode Island’s Oscar the death cat, who cuddles up to nursing home patients only in their final hours, Isabel played grim reaper in this brief courtship, predicting its demise before it even began as well as the subsequent stalking.
Stalking is probably too strong of a word; Marie uses a return address (but also delivery confirmation, which is stalkery). What’s the opposite of secret admirer? Overt hater, probably. So let’s say that’s what I have, an overt hater. By the end of our short-lived stint, it felt as if I’d stepped in shit. And no matter how hard I tried to stamp my foot to scrape it off my shoe, it just became wedged deeper into the tread. To this day, almost five months later, she still sends me letters damning my “ice cold” heart. Although I’ve thrown out the shoes, the stench lingers.
“She’s the best thing that ever happened to you!” my friend/co-worker Melanie happily declared recently as she handed me a piece of notebook paper folded in half with a tissue tucked inside.
Not quite the best. High on the list is adopting two sister kittens, one of whom would later prove to be the barometer by which I gauge all future love interests. When I first brought them home, I thought the stripe down Isabel’s nose and white tip at the end of her tail were her best attributes. The shelter had named her Tail-Light, which I found preposterous. But all these years later, she has lived up to that name, because I will slam on the brakes if she so much as gives one suspicious glance to the next suitor who comes along.
But as far as overt haters go, Marie’s been good to me in a manner she couldn’t possibly imagine or have intended. The stories of our torturous time together have become the stuff of legend. My co-workers serenade me nightly with Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice,” and constantly hurl around her bizarre insults and rants as if reading aloud entries from a lexicon chronicling the hilarity of my misfortune. She also has inspired gut-busting laughter, the sort of which can be achieved only upon realizing the lone person in nearly two years who has wanted to get in my pants has been completely and utterly out of her mind. And if it’s true that imitation is the highest form of flattery, it’s a shame Marie never will see this (at least I hope she won’t, because it’s probably not wise to provoke one’s hater):