CHEAP EATS I was about halfway across the Golden Gate Bridge by the time I knew for sure: big mistake. Stoplight the cat was not happy. I was not happy. It was hot. No air conditioning. I required food. Occidental is an hour and 15 driving minutes beyond the bridge.
That's a lot of minutes to have to listen to a cute little kitten that you love screaming and screeching in horror. Not to mention how many minutes it is to have to be that kitten. But I was running late for an important rehearsal for this thing I'm in, so there was no turning back.
"The show must go on," I said to Stoplight.
"You mother fucking fucker," he said, in so many meows. "If I ever get big enough I'm going to shred you into confetti, eat your internal organs, and leave your tangled intestines on the bed so I can spend the rest of my little life playing with them."
"Oh," I said. "Really? Say, have you ever heard of people who throw their pets out of car windows on the freeway? I'm not saying I'm one of those people, but what makes you so certain that every one of those people who are one of those people wouldn't have said, 10 minutes before losing it, that they weren't one of those people.
"I'm just saying," I said, "that the human psyche is a fragile and funny thing."
"Yeah, well, you think those little kitty scratches on your arms are bad, and the tiny puncture wounds all over your legs?" my little kitty said, partially overlapping me because he doesn't yet have manners. "Wait until I pull your ears off your head, claw your eyeballs out, and swat them across the floor like ping pong balls until they roll under the refrigerator.
"I'm just saying," he said. "I wouldn't go to sleep tonight, if I were you, I'm saying," he said. In so many meows.
"Fuck you," I said.
"Fuck you," he said.
We were off to a great start in our little long-term committed relationship. And it was all my fault. I decided to get off at the next exit with visible food, and just ... eat. Something. Anything. Whatever. I just didn't want to go all-the-way crazy, not in my brother's stinking van. Not on an empty stomach. The first place I see, I said to myself.
The first place I saw was McDonalds. (What are the chances?) Luckily, I am not an honorable woman. I mean, technically, I keep my word where there are other people involved, but tend to break every single promise I make to myself. Including, to everyone's cheap eaterly relief, this one.
I continued down that road, meow meow meow, until I came to the second restaurant I saw, which was Strawberry Gourmet Deli in the Strawberry shopping center.
As soon as the car stopped rolling, I poured out of it like a beer commercial, opened the sliding side door, grabbed the cat carrier, put it on the floor in the wayback, behind the third seat, and left that door open too.
He could see me through his little caged door as I ran-walked into the deli. "Get back here," he shrieked, "you stinking bitch!"
Or maybe he said, "Get cat beer! A pink sandwich!"
Whatever, it was loud, and it looped. You could still hear him at the counter.
"Can I help you?"
"The vet said it was okay," I said. "For a kitten. If you travel with them while they're young, they get used to it. I want to die."
I wish I could have got a salad or baked thing, such as lasagna, because it's hard to drown your sorrows in a sandwich. But I needed something I could eat in the car. "Turkey sandwich," I said.
Opened it up on my lap in the drivers seat, cranked Green Day, and got back on the freeway. What a lame lunch. Not enough meat. Not enough anything, except bread. All of us, we drive like maniacs, and are lucky to be alive.