Pub date December 16, 2009
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink

CHEAP EATS Weirdo the Cat, in an act of life-defying cantankerousness, has died. She got wind of my own impending crossing and timed her tumor accordingly, missing by only one day. No, not missing. While it would have been more operatic of her to die in my arms while I was tearfully kissing her goodbye, she let me get to the airport, on the plane, over the continent, over the ocean, up to the terminal, past customs, into the arms of my lover, onto the train, into the taxi, up two flights of stairs with three heavy suitcases, in and out of the bathtub, under the covers and over the rainbow. Then, while the kids were just settling to sleep in the next room, California … then did Weirdo the Cat breathe her last little stinky breath.

That way it would be clear to anyone with a brain bigger than a walnut that I had killed her. Poetically speaking. Ah, but Weirdo the Cat was ever the furry little poet. Only a little bit bitterer. She blamed me (me!) for not drawing her immortal, like other famous felines, with whom she was obsessed — especially Sylvester. I argued that I was a journalist, not a cartoonist, and she produced an eight-pound sledgehammer from behind her back and chased me around the room with it.

It’s true that she mellowed some in her elderly years, just like Grandma Rubino. In the end, she even actually seemed to kind of almost like children, and while they were away would curl up on the floor in their room and purr. I speak here of Weirdo the Cat, not Grandma Rubino.

Anyway, although any lap but mine or Crawdad’s was always strictly out of the question, by the time she had head-butted her last table leg she had socially matured to the point of sometimes actually sniffing strangers before biting them. I speak here of Grandma Rubino, not Weirdo the Cat.

Those three of my readers who have had the pleasure of knowing both these colorful cranks in their more corporal days will understand the confusion. One cursed in Italian, the other in hairballs and half-digested cat food. Other than that they were pretty much the same animal, may they rest in peace.

And in fact may we all get a little bit of sleep tonight. Jet lag — why didn’t I think of it earlier? I write three-act plays and astounding symphonies in my sleep, and then when I’m awake I walk around bumping into things, drooling, and forgetting my hat and purse everywhere. People tell me in Bavarian German that I’ll get over it after a week or so, and I don’t have the heart, or the vocabulary, to explain that, no, this is the way I’ve been since 1992.

There are other advantages to being where I am. For example, I find myself very literally surrounded by sausage, churches, and Christmas. I’ll let you guess which of those represents my idea of heaven.

Hint: some people like mustard on it. I prefer sauerkraut, to my Romea’s dismay, as I also tend to wear her coats and leave my napkins in her coat pockets.

The Stone Age Catholic churches, while pretty to look at, are pure hell on Sunday mornings when they call their faithful to breakfast with gigantic Iron Age dinner bells. It’s enough of a racket to weird out the dead, and to levitate the merely sleeping — in my case before I had quite finished my opus in F-Minor. Romea had to scrape me off the ceiling with a vacuum cleaner attachment.

Christmas itself, I predict, will be more likely to reclaim me here than Catholicism. For starters, it lets you sleep. Then too they celebrate it outdoors, in crowded open-air Christmas markets, featuring not only rampant commercialism but sausage stands! With bockwursts and bratwursts and meter-long sausages.

Whereas church offers warmth. But hey, I can get that at home. Do you know how long a meter is?

While you’re looking it up, lemme tell you where even you can find great bock- and bratwursts and even kielbasa and Italian hot sausages for real cheap: Longs Drugs. Yep, I became addicted when I lived in Rockridge. Trust me …


(and four other East Bay locations)

Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

5100 Broadway, Oakl.

(510) 601-1187

No alcohol

Cash only

L.E. Leone’s new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.