Beetroot & I #2

February 2, 2011

Beetroot & I is a weekly column/diary piece that I write for entertainment.ie.
February 2nd 2011

The Cat brought a man home with him today.
“This is my new friend Gary. I met him outside the bookies… jealous?” he said.
I think he was trying to make me jealous. Beetroot had done many things over the years to make me jealous, such as last week when he kicked me to make me jealous. Over the number of years that we’ve lived together, he’s certainly learned how to push my buttons.

Gary grunted something resembling the noise that “Hello” makes and the Cat showed him into the sitting room. I made some tea, arranged some biscuits and carried it in on our fanciest tray (i.e. the one that isn’t the lid of the bread bin). There he was, sitting in my chair, stroking my cat and making him purr like I’ve never heard him purr before. Oh yes, this was quite a show Beetroot was putting on. But I wasn’t going to rise to it. I knew that if I reacted, he would win. So I decided to go on the charm offensive.

“How do you like your tea, Gary?” I asked as breezily and friendly(ily?) as I could.
“Do you have Sky Sports News?” he mumbled, flicking through the channels.
“I don’t know, actually. Why?” Gary then looked at me as if I had just asked him what a shoe was*.
“It’s transfer deadline day!”
“Oh, right.”

Gary was bigger than me, hairier than me, he petted Beetroot harder and faster than me and he liked football. He made me feel very small. The Cat just stared at me as an ugly man and a beautiful woman on the television told us that a man was in a helicopter trying to get from one football stadium to another before a big yellow count-down clock ran out. Then another cold man, surrounded by a lot of other men in the same colour jerseys, standing outside a big gate, told me not to go anywhere because he had “a feeling” something was about to happen. Gary petted harder and harder and shouted at the television. Beetroot just stared at me and purred louder and louder. It went on for hours.

At a quarter to eleven, I could take no more. I had sat silently and watched this brute of a man “eat” my biscuits and slurp my tea and pet my cat within an inch of his life for long enough. As I stood up, I knew well that this was exactly what Beetroot had hoped for all along, but I didn’t care. I’m a man, God flip it! And I was ticked off.

“Right! That’s it! I’ve had enough of this! Get out!” I yelled, as best I could.
“Why?! What did I do?”
“Who the flip do you think you are, Sir?! You walk in here fresh from the gutter, and stinking of cider. You drink my tea, watch my television, grope my cat and you have the nerve to ask me ‘what did I do?'”

A tense silence followed. I had never told anyone off in my life before this. I wasn’t sure if I had done it well or not. Gary’s face was red. Initially, I thought it was rage-red and I remembered the article I read on the Internet that explained the best way to take a punch. I angled my body and tried to remember which muscles I was supposed to relax and which I was supposed to tense. No punch came though. It wasn’t red-rage. It was something much more submissive, something much more innocent, something much more… familiar.

I suddenly realized that Gary and I were the same. Sure, he was hairier and bigger and liked football and was a rough and tough cat-petter, but he was only there because Beetroot wanted him to be there. Gary, just like me, was dancing to the Cat’s beat. Sure, he was doing a more masculine dance than me, but we were both definitely dancing.**

“But…” he limply pointed at the television “…the transfer window shuts in fifteen minutes. Can I stay for fifteen more minutes?”

Gary left our flat at a quarter past eleven. Apparently it takes a few extra minutes for the final transfers to be announced after the deadline passes. I never saw him again. Beetroot sat in the corner of the room for the rest of the night, looking at me with a faint smile on his face. I had clearly faced some sort of test tonight. But had I passed or failed? I had absolutely no idea. I was just glad it was only the two of us once more.

Shane.

*come back to this, see if you can improve on it.
**reconsider this metaphor, I feel as if it’s become overly-complicated and confusing.

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