The greatest news story ever written

Pax Arcana

Ahem..

[taps the microphone]

May I have your attention, please?

Pax Arcana regrets to inform you that the 2009 Pulitzer Prizes have been canceled. While the committee is certain that your submissions would have been sterling examples of journalism, the decision has been made that this New York Times story is the finest piece of writing to ever grace the pages of any periodical, and deserves the Pulitzer in every available category.

It is, quite simply, the greatest news story ever written.

Sorry, Fido, It’s Just a Guy Thing

by Abby Ellin

IF you ask Adam Fulrath who is the love of his life, he will barely blink an eye before responding: Parappa.

I tried to barely blink an eye just after reading this, and it hurt like a bitch. This is an amazing feat for any human being. Tell me more about this man with the superhuman eyelid control…

Mr. Fulrath, a 37-year-old design director at Time Out New York, keeps five photographs of Parappa, a shorthaired, bicolored, mixed-breed cat, on his desktop. He knows that it might be considered a little weird that a grown man would be so enamored with his kitty, but Mr. Fulrath, who is into video games and comic books and calls himself a “straight, geeky guy,” doesn’t care.

“She’s my primary relationship,” he said.

I’m not really sure what the cat has to do with this guy’s superior ocular manipulation skills, but I haven’t given up yet. I mean, it’s not like this story is going to be about men liking cats.

Mr. Fulrath is one of a growing number of single — and yes, heterosexual — men who seem to be coming out of the cat closet and unabashedly embracing their feline side. To that end, they are posting photographs and videos of their little buddies on YouTube and on Web sites like menandcats.com, and Twittering about them to anyone who will listen.

See, I told you. This story isn’t about men liking cats. It’s about men liking cats and then posting pictures of them on the Internet.

[pause]

[pause]

HOLY SHIT I NEVER KNEW THERE WAS A WHOLE WORLD OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO LIKE THEIR PETS AND ALSO PUT PICTURES OF THEM ON THE INTERNET!!!!11!!!!!

I just checked it out, and it’s true! There are men who like cats, and they do put pictures of them on the Internet!

If I were an idiot, I’d probably say that this was a “trend” and was evidence that cats were overtaking dogs as the pet of choice for penis-having humans. And I’d say something completely irrelevant about some dickhead killing a cat and try to shoehorn it into my ridiculous theory.

Indeed, it seems that man’s best friend is no longer a golden retriever, but a cuddly cat named Fluffy. This movement, such as it is, is in direct contrast to the most notable in the recent spate of reports about the relationship between a man and a cat, which were far darker; they focused on a young actor who was recently on trial in New York City for killing his girlfriend’s cat — he said it attacked him — only to have a jury decide after several days that it could not reach a verdict.

If it had been a little less violent, that case might have been more in line with what the world seems to expect of men and cats.

Of course, a story this profound just isn’t complete without expert commentary.

The image of the crazy spinster cat lady persists, and plenty of people do wonder about a guy with a cat. As a writer on adventuresofacitygirl.blogspot.com put it: “Single men and cats are like a burger and broccoli. Separately they are okay, but together it just seems off.”

[puts down broccoli burger, drops head in shame, hopes the next sentence is so convoluted it will need to be read twice]

But those who see a growing link between men and cats see that attitude (not to mention the cat slaying) as old-fashioned.

YES!

Clea Simon, who wrote “The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats,” said: “I do think it has become more acceptable for men to own cats — partly for practical reasons, like the growing realization that they’re better city pets, and partly the whole acceptance of our cross-gender traits that men crave intimacy, too.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. You see, according to someone who wrote what must be the most awesomest book ever on mysterious connections between humans of one gender and an entire species of domesticated animal, more men like cats now because they’re more accepting of their feminine sides. Wait — maybe she’s saying it’s because more men are willing to admit that they crave the kind of intimacy one can only achieve with a feline pet. Or maybe she just hacked up and expectorated a soggy snarl of words and hair that our writer included in the article despite the fact that it makes no fucking sense whatsoever but seems vaguely akin to something that would support the absurd thesis of this article.

Stacy Mantle, the founder of Petsweekly.com, a magazine for pet lovers, said that men are becoming more “cat literate” because they themselves are evolving.

“It’s the unevolved members of the species who tend toward abuse of cats — and oftentimes, women and children,” said Ms. Mantle, who owns 18 cats.

Stacy Mantle: Internet entrepreneur, cat lover, evolutionary psychologist.

Although there are no hard (or soft) statistics (it is rare to find an owner, man or woman, walking a cat in public), it seems that single, heterosexual male cat owners are on the rise. Over the last few years Sandra DeFeo, an executive director at the Humane Society of New York, said she had seen an increase in the number of single, straight men who are adopting cats.

Carole Wilbourn, a cat therapist (yes, really) in Manhattan, said that the number of her single, straight male clients has risen about 25 percent over the last five years.

This is the strategy that really blew the Pulitzer committee away. First you say there are no statistics to back up your farkakte theory, then you tap into a deep well of uncheckable facts. Then you spray them all over your readers like they were Kentucky college girls at a wet T-shirt contest.

But still, where are the online polls?

When the Web site PetPlace.com asked its readers, “Do Real Men Own Cats?” almost 84 percent of respondents said “yes.” “Only intelligent, aware, caring men love cats,” one reader said. And in a 2005 survey by Cats Protection, an animal welfare agency in the United Kingdom, the majority of the 790 people who responded said it was cool for a guy to own cats.

Who would ever have guessed that men who own cats and frequent pet-focused Web sites would say that it’s cool for men to own cats? I just did my own online survey, and it turns out a majority of Red Sox fans say Alex Rodriguez is gay. So case closed, I guess.

This line of thinking does not surprise cat lovers, many of whom believe that only pillars of virility and masculinity would dare to own one. They are quick to point out other well-known macho cat owners: Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo and Marlon Brando, who reportedly found a stray cat on the set of “The Godfather” and incorporated it into a scene.

John Scalzi, 39, an author in Bradford, Ohio, has been a cat guy his entire life. In September 2006, he posted a picture of a piece of bacon taped to his cat, Ghlaghghee (pronounced Fluffy — an ode to George Bernard Shaw), on his Web site http://www.scalzi.com/whatever. Thousands of viewers apparently found this hilarious.

This just in — there are thousands of people who desperately need to rent season one of “Arrested Development.” Won’t someone pleeeease help them?

Mr. Scalzi, who is now married and has a daughter, blames Hollywood for the continual bad rap that has befallen the male cat owner. Originally, he said, only strong men like Don Corleone, or the villains in a James Bond film, had cats.

“But then in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, Hollywood decided that we need to have the token gay man as the witty sidekick friend of the main female protagonist,” he said. “ ‘What kind of signature thing can we give him to convey that he is not an entirely masculine being? I know! We’ll give him a big fluffy cat!’ ”

For example, that one movie with the gay guy and the cat, and there was that other movie with a gay guy and a cat, and honestly, who could forget that other time they made a movie and there was this gay man and he also had a cat.

In fact, Mr. Scalzi thinks that dogs are for the weaker of spirit, since the dog is, in effect, “your wingman.”

“If you’re feeling insecure about your space in the world, you get a dog because he will always back you up,” he said. “He’s the insecure man’s best friend.”

A man with a cat, on the other hand, “is secure with himself,” he said. “He’s sharing his space with a predator.”

John Scalzi eats cats? Is that what the bacon was for?

Many women agree that guys with cats are extra special.

Oh for fuck’s sake we’re still talking about this shit?

“They make the best boyfriends because they’re totally cool with staying home and watching a movie,” said Elizabeth Daza, 28, a video producer in Manhattan, who dated a cat-owning man for eight years. “Straight men with cats seem to be really secure and stable. They don’t need to be running around the park and proving their masculinity like the dog guys.”

She has a point. If I were single and had a dog, I’d run around the park with him with my balls out while curling 25-pound weights in either hand. Then I’d eat a cat, just like John Scalzi does.

On a practical level, cats are easier, male owners say — especially if they (the men) travel a lot. They can leave the cat alone for days on end, and the cat will survive.

“I would feel guilty if I had a dog and was out of the country for three weeks,” said Mark Fletcher, 38, an entrepreneur in Redwood City, Calif. who has two cats, Einstein and Babe (as in Ruth).

Cats are better than dogs because they’re more adept at not dying when you neglect them.

What’s more, cats are relatively low maintenance.

“A dog is a lot of work,” said Nader Ali-Hassan, 29, an account executive with a digital marketing firm in Cleveland.

Cats: Perfect for people who hate having to think about things like feeding and caring for a pet.

SOME guys are even using their cats as vehicles to celebrity, like Paul Klusman, 39, a Wichita, Kan., engineer who catapulted to Internet fame after posting “An Engineer’s Guide to Cats” on YouTube in April.

The film, which features his three cats, Oscar, Ginger and Zoey, garnered about 3 million views. Mr. Klusman said he received about 300 marriage proposals from “lonely cat ladies from all over the world,” in addition to more risqué propositions.

“Any single, straight man who has the slightest bit of insecurity about his own sexuality will probably find it difficult to admit to owning or even appreciating cats” he said, echoing Mr. Scalzi’s sentiments.

I thought there was an echo in here. To me it sounds like this:

“DUUUURRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!…   DUUURRRGGHH!!…  DUUrrrgh!…   Durrgh!… durrgh…   durgh”

Of course, it can become tricky, like when the cat gets in the way of a relationship.

The Cats Protection study found that single male cat owners were more likely than their female counterparts to have made, or consider making, a sacrifice for their cat — including giving up a holiday or going into debt for their cat if necessary.

Single men were also almost as likely as single women to break a friendship rather than lose their cat, and would consider choosing their cat over their partner.

I don’t live in the real world, but if I did, I bet I’d know tons of guys that have had to choose between their cats and their women. I’m sure it happens all the time.

This happened to Mr. Fulrath, who dated a woman who was allergic to cats.

See?

“I thought, ‘This is never going to work,’ ” he recalled. “My cat takes priority over the new relationship. Realistically, unless there’s something absolutely amazing about her, he wins.”

I’m betting it’s that kind of realism and commitment to avoiding women that has made Mr. Fulrath the world’s most successful almost-blinker.

Sorry, Fido, It’s Just a Guy Thing [NYT]

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under journalism

3 responses to “The greatest news story ever written

  1. Pingback: Just Because We Don’t Post As Much Doesn’t Mean the Lowell Sun Is Less Stupid « Lucy the Blog

  2. Perry Ellis

    Pax Redundancy: A day late and a dollar short department: Jack Shafer jumps on the Pax Arcana bandwagon over at Slate: Bogus Trend of the Week: Dudes With Cats

  3. Pingback: Now that’s a trend story «

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s