18 April 2008

Life-like, animated

The cat is back from her operation. ‘Being fixed’ they call it, because the cat returns minus the fortnightly caterwauling that once signified a frantic, reproductive need – problem solved.

Except that now she crouches tightly, sorely, her neck gingerly extended inside the Elizabethan collar, and what tiny spirit that once encouraged her to venture bravely forth from under the bed to watch birds and eat dry kibble did not wake with her from that chemical sleep.

She has me pegged correctly now; I’m the person that sometimes comes at her with hands that deliver her into the most frightening situations unimaginable. Here kitty kitty with a gentle, calling voice – what a hypocrite.

So I’ve been moving tenderly, uncertainly around the flat like it’s me who’s had the operation, because that’s what I do: I over-empathise with others. I’m particularly bad at it too, because I’m often left to guess at what it is I’ve found empathy with.

The more out-of-touch and unfeeling the object, the harder I’ll try – I’d cradle the cold, inflexible limbs of pointy-toed dolls in my youth, imagining that they felt the chill of night without their clothes, which I would have lost. Imagining my caring could make any difference to their suffering. That all you need is love.

If just one of them had ever returned that concern, I would've screamed my head off.

Somehow I’d overcomplicated leaving the house today, tasking myself with the impossible purchase of a specific bar of soap – soap that I’d used only once in a hotel in Brussels, and which has become practically extinct. Thankfully I caught on to this self-sabotage and forced myself to take a walk to Sainsbury’s, to buy normal soap along with some much-needed items (bread, coffee, toilet paper).

I wouldn’t say I was heartened, but I was surprised as usual to see so many people - people who want nothing more to do with the impassive faces they encounter in grocery stores and on the streets and in their lives than I do. And decaffeinated coffee was one whole pound more than regular.

The service industry in Great Britain is unfriendly and inefficient - even in Muswell Hill. At least the Germans have efficiency. Don’t they?


Anonymous said...

The service industry in the US is surly and unhelpful. Perhaps it's a worldwide epidemic?

Anonymous said...

It's definitely worse here. Maybe Canadians just care too much about what others think of them. Our service industry back home is impeccable.

pk said...

Canada: no 9: