Karla Keffer

Hades, the Bad Little Gray Cat 1995-2009

In Uncategorized on October 6, 2009 at 9:58 pm

sleeping in the rain helps me forget things like I am going to die and you are going to die and the cats are going to die but it’s still good to stretch out and know you have arms and feet and a head, hands, all the parts, even eyes to close once more, it really helps to know these things, to know your extensions and your limitations, but why do the cats have to die, I think that the world should be full of cats and full of rain, that’s all, just cats and rain, rain and cats, very nice, goodnight.
–“Storm,” Charles Bukowski

My cat Hades died of a heart attack this morning in the vet’s waiting room. She’d been having trouble keeping food down for quite some time, so my dad brought her in for an X-ray. She was curled up on a chair next to my dad, hissing at the other animals, when she rolled onto her back as if she wanted my dad to rub her belly. When she started to slip between the two chairs, my dad suspected the worst. The vet tried to revive her for over an hour, but he couldn’t – she may well have been dead the moment she rolled over onto her back. My dad and I are still stunned – just last night, Hades was frolicking around, mewing for ice cream and whatever else she wasn’t allowed to eat.

An old friend of mine likes to trot this poem out when cats of his acquaintance die. This is, thus far, the only Bukowski poem I’ve ever liked, perhaps because my back brain recognized its pertinence before my front brain did. Hades was a kitten when a college housemate “plucked her out of the rain,” as my friend Deb so beautifully put it, and introduced her to our midst. A security guard discovered her and nicknamed her Storm, and shortly thereafter we had to find her another place to live. So she went to live with the friend of another housemate and was returned to us when she peed in the friend’s dad’s suitcase. We hid her in the attic for two months until spring break, when I brought her home to my dad. What was supposed to be a temporary stay ended up lasting over thirteen years, during the course of which she terrorized our declawed cat Cecile, knocked an Entenmann’s cake off the top of the refrigerator, kidnapped a cheap stuffed bird of mine and chewed off its wings, bit and scratched any number of humans who wanted to show the big, beautiful gray cat some love, and, yes, peed in my dad’s suitcase. (It was a cheap suitcase; there weren’t any clothes in it, and my dad doesn’t believe in returning cats to from whence they came.) But she also snuggled up with our diabetic cat Sally the night before she died, and with her humans when we were sick, and she liked to roll around on her back and down the stairs to the rec room, and she meowed like a cat in a picture book, so articulately you could almost see the word balloon coming out of her little cat maw.

Rest in peace, dear little gray Hades. You were long among us, and yet it’s never enough. May you have all the salmon Fancy Feast and toy mousies you ever wanted. We miss you terribly already.

A ten-minute cease fire between Hades and Cecile, c. 2002

A ten-minute cease fire between Hades and Cecile, c. 2002


On Roman Polanski

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm

He drugged and raped a thirteen-year-old girl, pleaded guilty, and then fled the country for thirty years. I like and admire his work, but I think anyone who rapes anyone, let alone a thirteen-year-old girl, should go to prison, and I don’t care if that person directed Chinatown or makes a living picking cigarette butts off the street. I harbor no particular animosity toward Polanski, so I don’t consider my opinion on this matter calling for his blood. That said, I did harbor a great deal of animosity toward Elia Kazan for the admittedly lesser crime of becoming a “friendly witness” during the McCarthy era because he wanted to work, and I was not pleased when he won a Lifetime Achievement Oscar, and it disturbs me that I should be so outraged at Kazan and not Polanski, who committed a crime I frequently think is worse than murder. The people in the Hollywood film community who are using Polanski’s artistry as a defense for his crime are being idiotic, although I don’t know how I would react if a close friend of mine were in the same situation, and maybe I would use a similar defense. Having the Manson family kill and gut your pregnant wife is a horrific event that will fuck you up for the rest of your life, and while I do think its effect on Polanski’s mental state at the time of the rape should be taken into consideration, I don’t think it should let him off the hook. And finally, the victim has long since forgiven him, and considers the media’s badgering more traumatic than the crime itself. Having undergone therapy that ended up being more destructive than the trauma that precipitated it, I tend to believe her. The victim would like to see the case closed. Perhaps we should heed her wishes. Perhaps we should make the victim’s wishes a vital part in deciding all cases, not just death penalty cases, and for all people, including those who make their living cleaning up cigarette butts. And for good measure, we might also want to rethink the tactical strategy of sentencing a person to forty-two days in jail, deciding on a plea agreement, and reneging on it. Of course a person is going to run. Then again, I’m not sure I would, and I don’t think that’s as much about a sense of honor as it is about being terrified I’d get caught.

Women Are Stupid, Uptight Drunk Sluts, Take #47,810

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Well, perhaps that’s just my interpretation of it, and what do I know? I’m a stupid uptight drunk slut!

Seriously, what is the purpose of these studies about women and sexuality? It’s hardly news that some women (and, omigod, some MEN, even!) like to hit the sauce before hitting the sheets. And it’s always presented in this way that implies women are “bad” for needing to get a little lit before fucking, and it’s “all our fault” for not being able to relax on our own. It’s never because the guy is a crappy lay; it’s never because we’re toting around some pretty damn crushing emotional baggage about sex – emotional baggage that other people thrust upon us, mind you, but it’s all our fault for carrying it around in the first place – and it’s certainly not because guys play on our insecurities about not being thin enough or pretty enough or whatfuckingever enough. Nope, we’re just stupid uptight sluts who fuck too much and are frigid bitches because we need booze or pot to enjoy sex and we need to lower our standards yammer yammer yammer.

I don’t want to fall into the trap of blaming all men for this crap, because I do happen to know some decent fellows who, for the most part, don’t buy into it, and when they do, are pretty good at giving themselves a slap upside the head and realizing they’re being kind of piggish. And I do think women, myself included, have become very, very good at playing the male chauvinist game, and we need to stop being complicit in destroying ourselves to keep it going. So, yeah, it takes two to tango and other related truisms, but goddammit, it’s becoming more and more impossible for me to remain calm and logical in the face of the increasingly Sisyphean task of bearing the responsibility for all things dull and ugly while taking none of the credit for their opposite.

So I will end this post, calmly, with the following: If booze helps you enjoy The Sex, aces. Use it judiciously. If it doesn’t, then don’t. And gentlemen, “Let’s have sex” does not constitute foreplay. If you continue to insist that it does, then you have no right to get angry when we consume an entire gallon of vodka in order to endure your “lovemaking” or, gods forbid, refuse to fuck you in the first place. You’re welcome.

Oh, yes, and please don’t tell me to lower my standards. If I hear that phrase one more time, I will be forced to blow my brains out with a nine-millimeter. I say this calmly and logically.

So many uses for it...

So many uses for it...