Beetroot & I #4

February 16, 2011

Beetroot & I is a weekly column/diary piece that I write for entertainment.ie.
February 16th, 2011

I’m apprehensive about St. Valentine’s Day at the best of times. Beetroot expects a fair amount of attention every day, but he demands to be the absolute centre of my universe on February 14th. It’s not that he’s much of a romantic. Cats generally aren’t. But I think he just likes to know that he’s still my number one priority. Which is fair enough, I suppose.

This year, Valentine’s Day posed a unique problem. I have been casually seeing Christine ever since she accidentally concussed me with her prosthetic leg over a week ago. And now, she had asked me to dinner in her favourite Belgian restaurant for the “big night”. Without thinking about my plans with Beetroot, I agreed.

It’s not that I’m afraid of how Beetroot would react if he found out that I have a “girlfriend”, but he is very prone to… worrying about me. And with his annual trip to the vet coming up in a few months time, I didn’t want to give him any undue cause for anxiety of any sort.

“Are you OK?” asked Christine. She seemed genuinely concerned. I turned back towards her.
“Yeah! Fine. Why do you ask?” I prodded at my Tomate Crevette (shrimp and mayonnaise stuffed in a hollow raw tomato).
“You keep looking over your shoulder.”
“Do I?” I batted away her concern away with a nonchalance I had practiced the night before in front of the bathroom mirror.
“Yes. You do.”

Every Valentine’s Day, I cook Beetroot his favourite dish of fish-pie. This time however, I crushed up a cat-sleeping pill (available from the internet) and mixed it in with the fish. Then I told him that I was nipping out for some milk. Now, I was sitting across from Christine, feeling on edge and very guilty indeed. I knew he would be out for the count by now, but I couldn’t relax. Every time the door of the restaurant opened, I expected the cat to stroll in.

As our Vlaamse Stoofkarbonadens* arrived, I could tell Christine wasn’t having a great time. All the drug induced bravery of my hospital bed asking of her out, had since passed and I was back to being my quiet, inarticulate self. Add to that, my fear that my cat would catch us and I wasn’t proving the most illuminating company. She was staring out the window beside our table at the happy couples strolling by, arms entwined.

“Shane” she finally blurted. “Do you not like me?”
“Of course I do.”
“You seem very distant. If you don’t like me anymore, I’d rather if you just told me now.”
“I do like you. I like you a lot. I like you really… loads.” I blathered.
“Well… OK then.” She smiled. “Why don’t we get our waffles to go and we can head back to mine for some wine?” That sounded really great.
“Well, that sounds really BEETROOT!” I dove under the table. The cat was outside and I think he saw me. I peered out from under the tablecloth. He had seen me. There he was, standing right up at the window, peering in at our table. His breath made a misty haze on the glass. He glared at me.
“Shane, are you hiding from that cat?” Christine asked.
“Would you excuse me for a moment, Christine?” I rose and walked towards the door.

I hurried around to where Beetroot was. Christine watched, from two feet away on the other side of the glass as Beetroot hissed and spat and mewed and coughed at me. All the while, I smiled and nodded and cast reassuring glances at Christine. Beetroot finished telling me off, gave Christine a toxic glare, turned on his paws and strode away. I returned to my seat. Christine just looked at me. I took from this that she thought that it was my turn to speak…
“This was great. We should do it again some time.” And I called for the bill.

Shane

*a rather delicious Flemish Beef Bourguignon.

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